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Lviv and the Janowski Concentration Camp

The following post is by Ryan Moore, a cartographic specialist in the Geography and Map Division.

The city of Lviv, in what is now western Ukraine, was greatly impacted by the Second World War and the Holocaust. Prior to the outbreak of fighting, it was part of Poland and known as Lwów. It was then a diverse, multi-ethnic city, and its inhabitants included large communities of Jews, Poles, Ukrainians, and others. The Nazi genocide sought to erase the presence of entire peoples through forced relocation and mass murder. These acts of evil were brought to an end by the victory of the Soviet Union, and Lviv remained under Communist control until 1991.

Ethnographic map of Ukraine (pre-World War II). Original map by Wolodymyr Kubijowytsch, 1938; redrawn by Stephen Rapawy and Robert Shlanta, U.S. Census Bureau, 1992. Geography and Maps Division, Library of Congress.

Ethnographic map of Ukraine (pre-World War II). Original map by Wolodymyr Kubijowytsch, 1938; redrawn by Stephen Rapawy and Robert Shlanta, U.S. Census Bureau, 1992. Geography and Map Division, Library of Congress.

In 1939, the Germans invaded and occupied most of Poland. The remainder of Poland, including Lviv, fell under the control of the Soviet Union. In 1941, the Germans broke the Molotov-Ribbentrop non-aggression pact and attacked the Soviets. The Germans seized Lviv and renamed it Lemberg. The Nazis appropriated a 1922 map of the city created by the famous Polish cartographer Eugeniusz Romer (1871-1954) and used it to plan their “Nazification” of the city. To that end, streets were renamed to celebrate the occupation. New names included Wehrmacht Strasse (“Armed Forces Street”), Siegfried Strasse (after the Germanic literary hero) and Adolf Hitler Ring.

Lemberg. Created by German military, Berlin, 194-. Geography and Map Division, Library of Congress.

Lemberg. Created by German military, Berlin, 194-. Geography and Maps Division, Library of Congress.

In 1941, a labor camp known as Janowska was established in the northwest corner of the city, where more than 100,000 people were interned and forced to build arms for the Nazis. Camps like Janowska were state secrets and omitted from official maps, as shown in the German military map below.

Portion of Stadtplan von Lemberg (Lwowa). Created by German military, Berlin, 1941. Geography and Maps Division, Library of Congress.

Portion of Stadtplan von Lemberg (Lwowa).Created by German military, Berlin, 1941. Geography and Map Division, Library of Congress. [The arrow in the map above points to the location of the camp.]

Elsewhere in Lviv, the Nazis held Soviet prisoners of war in squalid conditions in the city’s old fortress, known as the Citadel.

Portion of Stadtplan von Lemberg (Lwowa). Created by German military, Berlin, 1941. Geography and Map Division, Library of Congress.

Portion of Stadtplan von Lemberg (Lwowa). Created by German military, Berlin, 1941. Geography and Maps Division, Library of Congress.

By extreme contrast, the Nazis lived comfortably. Spas were built for both the army and the SS guards. Elsewhere, the city was used for garrisoning troops and as a place where soldiers took temporary leave from official duties.

Lemberg. Created by German military, Berlin, 1944. Geography and Map Division, Library of Congress.

Lemberg. Created by German military, Berlin, 1944. Geography and Map Division, Library of Congress.

In July 1944, the Red Army forced the Germans out the city and liberated those who were imprisoned, including among them the famous postwar Nazi hunter Simon Wiesenthal. The Soviets unearthed atrocities committed at the camp and on the fields behind it. The city was again renamed Lviv and incorporated into the Soviet Union. Today, the city is part of Ukraine and the population is predominantly Ukrainian along with small Russian and Jewish communities.

Russians crack German strongpoint near Lwow. Photo by Associated Press, 1944. Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress.

Russians crack German strongpoint near Lwow. Photo by Associated Press, 1944. Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress.

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