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  Timeline of the Holocaust in Piotrkow
by Shirley Rotbein Flaum

September 1, 1939
Germany invades Poland. Photo.
September 4, 1939
One thousand Piotrkow Jews fleeing the German invasion are killed in nearby Sulejow by German planes strafing the town and dropping bombs.
September  5, 1939
Germans invade Piotrkow Trybunalski.
September 1939
About 2,000 Piotrkow Jews escape to the Soviet Union.
October 1939
The Gestapo establishes a Judenrat, headed by former vice president of the Jewish Council, Zalman Tenenberg, a member of the Jewish socialist Bund organization. Tenenberg surrounds himself with twenty-three co-workers, mostly party members, some of whom had served on the Council before the war.
October 8, 1939
German Civil Commissar Hans Drexel orders the establishment of a ghetto, the first in German-occupied Poland.
October 28, 1939
The ghetto is established. Jews are forced to leave their homes and move into the ghetto.
November 7, 1939
Jews from the Warthegau are expelled to Piotrkow, among other cities.
November 29, 1939
Hans Drexel presents the Judenrat with a decree demanding 350,000 zlotys. Three hostages are held until payment is made. Later, more money and goods are demanded, impoverishing Piotrkow's Jews.
December 13, 1939
Sixty-five Jews from Gniezno, probably the last of the community, arrived in Piotrkow Trybunalski.
About 8,000 Jewish refugees from neighboring towns and villages arrive, many from Warsaw, Lodz and its vicinity, Belchatow and Kalisz, in addition to those exiled to Piotrkow by the Germans from the villages of Pomerania, Plock and Gniezno and their vicinities.
February 18, 1940
Two German sergeants seize and rape two Jewish girls at the Jewish cemetery.
July 1940
Some Jews are taken to two nearby swamps and forced to dig ditches and canals. Many die of pneumonia or tuberculosis. A census of the ghetto was taken. Nearly a thousand men are gathered and sent to the Hrubieszow, Belzec, Dzikow, Cieszanow and Plaszow labor camps. 
September 1940
A ransom is collected by the Jewish community in exchange for the return of Piotrkow men in brutal Lublin camps.
March 14, 1941
On March 4, 1941, 600 Jews from Drobin are deported via Dzialdowo, arriving in Piotrkow Trybunalski ten days later. Of the 600 Drobniner Jews who were brought to Piotrkow, only six were alive at war's end.
June and July 1941
A Polish courier traveling on behalf of the Bund's Central Committee is arrested. Underground activities of the Bund are uncovered and members go into hiding. The Gestapo arrests many Bund members and the Judenrat chairman, Zalman Tenenberg, who is sent to Auschwitz and murdered. Szymon Warszawski subsequently becomes Judenrat chairman.
September 13, 1941
Eleven members of the Judenrat reach the end of two months of torture. One of them is Jacob Berliner, who gives himself up after eluding capture.
November 17, 1941
Eight Jews are shot for smuggling food into the ghetto.
A typhus epidemic sweeps through the ghetto.
October 14, 1942
The Piotrkow "action" begins: at 2:00 in the morning, the ghetto is surrounded by SS men and Ukrainians.
October 14-21, 1942
Liquidation of the ghetto is begun: about 1,000 Jews (including the sick) are shot and 22,000 Jews are deported from the ghetto to Treblinka death camp and gassed, including Rabbi Lau, the last rabbi of Piotrkow; 500 escape to forest nearby.
October 21, 1942
About 4,000 Jews remain in the ghetto, about half of those illegally.
October-November, 1942
The Gestapo brings "illegals" found in cellars and hiding places to the synagogue. They are sent to Tomaszów Mazowiecki and deported to Treblinka together with the Jews of Tomaszów.
November 19, 1942
One hundred "illegals," mostly old people, are brought to the synagogue, then led away and shot in the nearby Raków forest.
November 25, 1942
The Judenrat chairman orders the "illegals" to register. A few days later, they are picked up by the Jewish police, jailed in the synagogue and held without food or water.
November 1942
Yeshayahu and Tova Weinstock give themselves up at the synagogue to exchange places with their children, who are saved. Other acts of heroism occur to attempt to save Jews held in the synagogue.
December 19, 1942
Forty-two men are taken from the synagogue and led to the Rakow forest. They are given spades and shovels and ordered to dig five long ditches. The men are shot after a struggle with the Germans, with a few escaping.
December 19-20, 1942
The Gestapo take Jews from the synagogue to the Rakow forest in groups of fifty to be shot. Many are killed near the synagogue attempting to escape. In the Rakow forest, a total of 560 Jews are shot. The dead are buried in a mass grave together with the wounded, a few of whom manage to dig themselves out.
March 21, 1943
(Purim 5703)
A "Purim Massacre"  to avenge the ten sons of Haman occurs in Piotrkow. Jews living legally in the ghetto are told that ten volunteers with university degrees are needed for an exchange with German citizens living in the settlement of Sarona, in Palestine. The chosen include: the lawyer Zilberstein (then Jewish Police Commander) with his wife; pediatrician Dr. Maurycy Brams with his wife, 16-year-old daughter (Hannah/Ania) and his sister-in-law; young lawyer Szymon Stein; psychiatrist Dr. Leon Glatter. They are driven around the city until nightfall, then taken to the cemetery. SS officers and gendarmes hold derisive speeches, before ordering the Jews to undress and be shot.
end of July, 1943
The Nazis agree to permit 1,720 Jews to remain in the ghetto -- 1,000 of the near Bugaj and the rest in the glass factories. They deport 1,500 "excess" Jews from the small ghetto to camps in Bilzin, Pionki and Starachowice. The Nazis separate children from their parents who are being sent to Bilzin; the children are murdered with great cruelty.
August 1, 1943
Glass workers (about 720) are quartered near the glass works Kara and Hortensja and  woodworkers of the Bugaj camp (about 1,100) are housed in their barracks. The workers of the "Shop"(needle trade) are shipped out to Blyzin. The "illegals" are executed.
September, 1943
The Nazis discover that more than agreed number of Jews remain in Piotrkow. One hundred workers -- 91 men and 9 women -- are selected from the Bugaj and the glass factories and deported to the Dietrich-Fischer wood factories in Tropau, Sudetenland. None of the men survive and are last seen at the Berlin railroad station, just before the collapse of the Nazi regime. 
November 24, 1944
The last Jews in Piotrkow are deported: some to Buchenwald, Bergen-Belsen and Mauthausen camps. Some inmates from the Bugaj were directly evacuated to Buchenwald. Some prisoners are taken to Czestochowa and unloaded. Of these, some male prisoners are taken to Buchenwald or remain in Czestochowa, and women prisoners, with a some young girls, are taken to Ravensbrück.
January 16, 1945
Piotrkow is liberated by the Soviet Army. Jews who survive in Auschwitz, Czestochowa, on the Aryan side, return and register in the Gmina; most leave shortly after.
After liberation, Poles murder three Jews who return to Piotrkow: the engaged couple, Sala Uszerowicz and Lajzer Malc, and Mrs. Rachel Rolnik.


  • Dawidowicz, Lucy S. The War Against the Jews 1933-1945. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1975.
  • Giladi, Ben, ed. A Tale of One City: Piotrkow Trybunalski. New York: Shengold Publishers in cooperation with the Piotrkow Trybunalski Relief Association in New York, 1991.
  • Gilbert, Martin. Atlas of the Holocaust. New York: William Morrow and Co., 1988
  • Gilbert, Martin. The Holocaust: A History of the Jews of Europe During the Second World War. New York: Henry Holt and Co., 1985



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