Transit stop for the murder of Slovak Jews
Rejowiec in the district of Chelm, acquired municipal rights during the 16th Century and became famous thanks to Mikolaj Rej, a distinguished poet of the Polish Renaissance.
At the end of the 16th Century Rejowiec was populated mostly by Jews, and by the 20th Century the Jews accounted for eighty percent of its population. Before the Second World War commenced in September 1939 there were approximately 2,000 Jews in Rejowiec.
These were mostly poor Orthodox and Hassidic Jews, and these witnessed the arrival of the German Army in Rejowiec, but this stay was short lived as the Soviet Army occupied the town. However, this occupation was only temporary and the Germans returned in October 1939.
In February 1941 the German Police committed a sacrilegious act in the local prayer house, ordering the Jews to take the Torah scrolls and holy books outside and setting them on fire. The Jews were ordered to dance around the flames.
Soon after the synagogue and the prayer house were destroyed and all the Jews were removed from the centre of the town to the outskirts, later also during 1941 the Germans deported 1300 Jews from Lublin and Krakow into already overcrowded accommodation.
On the 7 April 1942 the Nazis gathered about 2,000 Jews and drove them like cattle to the railway station. Many elderly people and children who could not keep up were murdered on the way to the station.
This transport went to the newly constructed death camp at Sobibor, which was some 70 kilometres from Rejowiec. Once the Polish Jews had been transported to certain death, over 5,000 Czech and Slovak Jews filled their place, thus turning Rejowiec into another transit ghetto in the Lublin Region.
One unknown survivor who was deported from Slovakia managed to write to their local Judenrat via the Polish Underground about one such deportation and this is covered in a separate article.
In the summer of 1942 German and Ukrainian policemen accused the local Jewish community of killing one of their officer’s, and in retaliation several dozen Jews were locked in their homes and massacred with grenades.
During the first week of October 1942, the camp authorities resume mass murder operations in the gas chambers of Sobibor with the arrival of more than 24,000 Slovak Jews between October 8 and October 20 from the transit camp-ghetto Izbica in the Lublin District of the Generalgouvernement.
The camp authorities kill virtually all of the deportees upon arrival in reconstructed and newly added gas chambers, completed during the two month lull in transports to Sobibor.
The improvements in capacity enable the camp authorities to kill up to 1,300 people at a time. Newly constructed as well was a narrow railway trolley from the reception platform to the burial pits in order to facilitate the transfer of the sick, the dead, and those unable to walk directly to the open ovens. Those still alive after this journey are shot by the SS staff or the Trawniki-trained guards.
Facts Reported by a Jew Deported from Slovakia to Poland – Who has since Escaped and Returned
Read more here: http://www.holocaustresearchproject.org/nazioccupation/rejowiec.html
The Holocaust Education & Archive Research Team
Copyright Carmelo Lisciotto H.E.A.R.T 2009