Lwow Pogrom and the Death of the Jewish Community of Lwow

The history of the region of Eastern Galicia is one that has been shaped by a huge amount of ethnic conflict.  By the time the Austro-Hungarian Empire collapsed the region was in the borders of a new country called the West Ukrainian People’s Republic.  

The new country lasted just 9 months in the Polish-Ukrainian war, but it was a definitive time for the fate of Eastern European Jewry.  While we hear a lot about how brutal the Ukrainians were when Hitler finally came around, back in this day most of the political agitation was coming from the Poles.  The Polish and Jewish communities had a very serious rivalry and mistrust for one another, whereas this new West Ukrainian People’s Republic was actually being quite good to the Jews.  They had Yiddish school books; encouraged Jewish autonomy; and there were Jews in every post of government.  

This soon ended when the Polish-Ukrainian war was lost by the Ukrainians and they ended up living in Polish land now – Lwow included.  

Relations started out okay, but things quickly went south as they always do during impoverished times.  In addition to that, Ukrainian nationalism was only intensified by losing their short-lived country.  As Jews know all too well, patriotism is the start of trouble for anyone who doesn’t have a country to go back to.

The Discovery of bodies that the Soviets had left behind in the cellars is what triggered the initial propaganda for the uprising.  The Soviets had heard of Germans’ fast approach and decided to kill as many political prisoners as they could.  Despite popular belief that all communists were Jews, many of the murdered were Jews as well. Soviets discriminated based on ideology, Nazis by race or ethnicity.

The Video depicts grieving Ukrainian and Polish wives finding their husbands’ bloated and mutilated bodies.

The Lose-Lose

Both the Poles and the Ukrainians expected their long-time pawns (The Jews) to join their side.  While the official statement was that there was no side being taken, many could plainly tell that the Jews were much more sympathetic to the Ukrainian side.  When the Poles won, however, a series of tensions and mishaps brought age-old hatred to the surface between Jews and Ukrainians.  So, now they were hated by the Poles for fighitng against them in addition to being hated by the Ukrainians for being seen like capitulators for trying to be agreeable iwth the Poles.

Blame the Jew

The normal population of Jews was around 100,000 in 1932 – which still rendered Lwow as having the third largest Jewish population in all of Poland – but by the time the Soviets came it had doubled.  The population had swollen to over 200,000 people who were fleeing from behind the German line.  Unfortunately, due to the infamous conflation between Jews and Communism, the Soviets soon became strongly associated with Jewish citizens.  When the Germans betrayed the Russians during Operation Barbarossa, 1941, terror ensued and many people were murdered due to propaganda.

The Soviets did not help to ease any tension when they began murdering prisoners for 6 days as the Germans were attacking.  From June 22, 1941- June 28, 1941 over 4,000 prisoners died at the hands of the Soviets.  Some of them, however, were Jews as well – this dispels the myth of preferential treatment.  This, however, was used cleverly by invading German soldiers to stir up feelings of anti-Semitism that were already right below the surface.


Inhumane and Brutal acts of Rape; Robbery; Assault; Humiliation; Sexual Torture; and Murder follow.
Lviv Massacre 1941
Lviv Massacre 1941
Lviv Massacre 1941
Lviv Massacre 1941
Lviv Massacre 1941