Tuesday, November 13, 2007

A river runs through it

The Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, also known as the Nazi-Soviet pact, divided up Poland between the Germans and the Russians. In the southeast, the line ran down the San River, splitting Przemysl in half - the Nazis on the Zasanie shore and the Reds on the Przemysl side.

Signed in August, 1939, the division of Przemysl would last until June 22, 1941 when Nazi Germany invaded the Soviet Union in Operation Barbarossa.

The photo above shows Russian Przemysl from the German Zasanie side. The three posters, from left to right are: Soviet Foreign Minister Vyacheslav Molotov, Western Army head Kliment Voroshilov, and, of course, "Uncle" Joseph Stalin. Below Stalin are the words "Workers of the World Unite!" written in Ukrainian. (photo from the collection of L. Beidka. All rights reserved)

Many Jews joined the Red army on that day in June, including my great uncles Elia Silberman and Isaac Metzger. Isaac, also known as Edward, made it back to Przemysl after the war to find his wife and three children murdered. Elia, his wife and two children were never heard from again.

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You gotta have HEART

Holocaust Education & Archive Research Team

This site contains an excellent collection of holocaust histories of Polish towns, including Przemysl.


Przemysl is a city in Poland, situated on the San River, in the Lvov district, Eastern Galicia and before the Second World War approximately 24,000 Jews lived in Przemysl.

The Germans bombed Przemysl on 7 September 1939 and the following day the bombing continued setting fire to the shopping centre Pasaz Gansa.

Many of Przemysl inhabitants fled the city, to escape the bombings, and the Germans entered the city for the first time on 15 September 1939, approximately 20, 000 Jews lived in Przemysl, including refugees from western Poland.

The Germans immediately began to humiliate the Jewish inhabitants and started to arrest members of the Jewish intelligentsia, physicians, lawyers, industrialists and Jewish political activists. Forty-three leading Jewish citizens were arrested, taken for forced labour, savagely beaten and then shot. Among the forty-three was Asscher Gitter, whose son had emigrated to the United States in 1938, hoping that one day his father would join him.


I urge you to read the whole account. (Copyright Lukasz Biedka, and Chris Webb H.E.A.R.T 2007)

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