One third of the Polish city of Lublin’s 120,000 inhabitants were Jewish. In 1940, the SS and Police commander of the Lublin district Odilo Globocnik forced the Jews from the rest of the city to move from their homes into an exclusively Jewish section of town.  Jews were required to wear a yellow star on their clothing.  Thousands of Jews from other towns in the area were required to move into quarters designated for Jews in Lublin.  In March 1941, the Jewish district became a ghetto. 

The Lublin ghetto was not strictly closed off like other ghettos in Warsaw and Lodz. Jews had access to more food than in other ghettos and were able to engage in some illegal trade with people outside the ghetto.  Nevertheless, although conditions were milder, the end result was the same.

In December 1941, Jewish workers were taken from Lublin to help build the camp at Majdanek. In 1942 the ghetto was divided into two parts. In March 1942, deportations began to Belzec extermination camp.  A young boy escaped and went back to Lublin to warn the others, but no one believed him. The deportations continued, with about 26,000 Jews deported in one month.  At the time of the liquidation of the ghetto, the German propaganda minister, Joseph Goebbels wrote in his diary: “The procedure is pretty barbaric, and not to be described here more definitely.  Not much will remain of the Jews.”

About 200 orphan children were taken with their teachers outside the city and shot. Several hundred patients from the hospital were executed in the forest along with their doctors and nurses. Deportations to the camps in Majdanek and Belzec continued through the end of the year until no more Jews remained. In the final round-up, almost 200 Jews found hiding in the ghetto, many of them children, were shot.

The Jews sent to Belzec were generally killed upon arrival at the camp. Those sent to Majdanek were either gassed to death or selected for work details. The surviving Lublin Jews were among the 18,000 enslaved workers executed on November 3, 1943. The last remaining 400-500 Lublin Jews, who had been selected to work for Nazi officers, were murdered on July 21-22, 1944, just hours before the Soviet Army liberated the city.

Of the 40,000 Jews of Lublin living in 1939, about 1,000 escaped to the Soviet Union and only 200 survived in hiding or were liberated from the camps.