Lublin Jews remembered the 76th anniversary of the liquidation of the ghetto there

Residents of the eastern Polish city of Lublin commemorated the 1942 liquidation of its Jewish ghetto on Saturday by walking the route along which the Germans led Jews to a local railway siding, from where they were deported to the Belzec German death camp.

The liquidation of the Lublin ghetto marked the start of Operation Reinhardt - the Nazi German plan to eradicate Jews from the entire territory of the General Government district of German-occupied Poland during World War II. The first transport of Lublin's Jews to the Belzec extermination camp left on the night of March 16, 1942.

On Saturday, a group of local residents walked the memorial route to the Lublin Jews, which was ceremonially opened last year. "We're walking exactly the route the Lublin Jews travelled - from the site of the Synagogue, to the so-called Lublin Umschlagplatz. We are stopping at several sites associated with witness accounts, thanks to which we know which way the road led," said Joanna Zetar from Lublin's Brama Grodzka Theatre Centre, which organised the march.

The two-kilometre route starts at Lublin Castle, at the site where the Maharshal synagogue once stood (in the former grounds of the Jewish district) and then leads through the streets of the city to the former site of the railway siding, from which Jews were transported to Belzec.

The Lublin ghetto liquidation started with the so-called large ghetto, in the Jewish district, on the night of March 16. The Germans expelled people from their homes, killing the sick and infirm on site. The first transport of Jews from the railway siding numbered about 1,500 people. By mid-April, 1942, around 28,000 Jews had been transported from the Umschlagplatz to Belzec as part of Operation Reinhardt.

At the Belzec death camp, which functioned from March till December 1942, the occupying German forces murdered approximately 450,000 Jews, mostly from Poland but also from Germany, Austria, the Czech Republic and Slovakia. It was one of the three main sites of Jewish extermination under Operation Reinhardt along with Treblinka, where around 900,000 were killed, and Sobibor, the site of 170,000 murders. Operation Reinhardt accounted for the deaths of around two million Jews between March 1942 and November 1943.