The Lviv ghetto was set up on the 6th of November 1941 according to the order of the police major-general of SS district “Halychyna” Friz Kazman in Lviv.
Ghetto was founded in the poorest Lviv district and it occupied the territory of Klepariv and Zamarstyniv districts, protected from south by railway mound, from east - Zamarstynivska street, from west - Varshavska street, and from north by Poltva river.
Special Jewish district organization in the city was authorized by governor of the district Hans Frank on November 8th, 1941. In the period from November 16th up till December 14th 1941 more than 136 thousand Jews were forced by the occupational government to move into the ghetto. Ukrainians and Poles who lived on that territory at that time had to move out to other city districts by December 14th, 1941.
By the end of 1941 the majority of Jewish inhabitants from Lviv and nearby regions were centered in the ghetto. Due to the fact that in the decided time resettling did not end, a new deadline was set up by occupational government – February 28th, 1942.
In general during the whole occupation period about 138 700 Jews were kept in the ghetto. Its territory was surrounded by the fence and barbed wire to isolate it from the city.
Starting from the very first days of Lviv occupation by Nazis, parts of Gestapo, SS and police started making ambushes on the streets, organize arrests and massacres. Thus, during the transportation of Jews to the ghetto in November 1941, German police also began a series of "selections" in an operation called "Action under the bridge" - 5,000 elderly and sick Jews were selected and shot as they crossed under the rail bridge.
The ghetto was governed through the European Council (“Judenrat”), which was providing it with all the products needed, collecting indemnity, and selecting candidates for the work camps, carried out orders of city administration. Jewish council until the beginning of 1942 was headed by Ph.D. Józef Parnas, and later until August 1942 by Ph.D. Henrik Landesberg.
Nazis divided Jews in the ghetto into “useful” and “worthless”. Specialists in the sphere of technology, handicraft and medicine were considered to be privileged, as well as workers of military and civil enterprises, and “Judenrat” officials.
There was not enough water and provision, medical supplies, dwellings in the ghetto. Official norms of supplying the Lviv ghetto in winter 1941-1942 per one adult were: 700 grams of bread per week, 400 grams of flour and 100 grams of sugar per month. This caused massive famine and exhaustion among prisoners. In the autumn 1942 the epidemic of typhus spread out, causing the decease of many exhausted and weak Jews. Those Jews who were capable of working, carried out civilian duty in Yanowska concentration camp (there they worked at German industrial enterprises, were building the railroad etc.), incapable of working Jews were systematically exterminated.
January 20th 1941 administration of the Third Reich made a decision “The Final Solution” (from German: Endlösung der Judenfrage). In winter-spring 1942 in Lviv Nazis started preparing for the massive destruction of Jews in the ghetto.
In March 1942 the first deportation of Jews form the Lviv ghetto to the extermination camp Belzec (Polish spelling Bełżec) took place. The victims were 15 thousand Jews, who were unable to work (elderly people, women, and children). The official name of the deportation was “actions against anti-social elements”.
Transportation of Jews from the Lviv ghetto to the concentration camp Belzec marked the beginning of “Operation Reinhard” (German: Aktion Reinhard or Einsatz Reinhard) – Nazi plan to murder Polish Jews in the General Government, and marked the most deadly phase of the Holocaust, the use of extermination camps. During the operation, as many as two million people were murdered in Bełżec, Sobibor and Treblinka. In order to do this SS army and police of Lublin and Warsaw districts were involved, as well as subsidiary apparatus, that included former Soviet military men who were trained in the training camp in Travniki.
During the big raid carried out in the Lviv ghetto, which took place in the night between the 24th and 25th of June, 1942, more than 2 thousand Jews were deported to Yanowska concentration camp. A small number of people (about 120) were left in Yanowska concentration camp, the rest were shot in Pyasky near the camp. Apart from this 6 thousand prisoners were shot in the very ghetto.
Before the arrival of Reichsführer-SS Heinrich Himmler in August 1942, the "Great Aktion" was carried out, the biggest among all the Holocaust operations. About 55 thousand Jews were rounded up, gathered at transit point placed in Janowska camp and then deported to Belzec. Those Jews who were capable of working, about 1,6 thousand men, were forced to stay in Yanowska camp. Many, who were not deported, including local orphans and hospital inpatients, were shot. The Gestapo hanged the head of Lviv Judenrat, the Jewish Council was liquidated.
In the early September 1942 about 65 thousand Jews were still located in the Lviv ghetto, among them – 15 thousand were so called “illegal Jews”. Since then the territory of ghetto was reduced to a few little streets and surrounded by the wall.
In the early November 1942 Germans carried out another selection of prisoners according to their professional capabilities. On November 18th 1942 a new set of so called “not capable of working elements” (5 thousand people) was arrested and deported to Belzec. At the same time the Jewish hospital was liquidated, and its director doctor Kurzrok was sent to Yanowska concentration camp. During this time the ghetto was announced to be “a closed Jewish camp” and was handed over to the direct authority of SS. In the end of 1942 more than 6 thousand Jews were transferred to the Yanowska concentration camp, where everybody was killed. During the “December campaign” in 1942 another 7 thousand Jews were exterminated.
January 5–7, 1943, another 15,000-20,000 Jews, including the last members of the Judenrat, were shot outside of the town. After this action in January 1943 Judenrat was dissolved, that what remained of the ghetto was renamed Judenlager Lemberg (Jewish Camp Lviv), thus formally redesigned as labor camp with only those Jews, who were able to work in German war industry.
The liquidation of the Lviv ghetto was continuing up till the 16th of June 1943. During its final liquidation the last prisoners organized armed riot, having killed and wounded a few police officers. As a result - the Nazis murdered them. After the final liquidation of ghetto the last 4 thousand prisoners were transferred to the Yanowska concentration camp, and later on they were killed in the town nearby. 3 thousand Jews committed suicide. After this, Lviv was proclaimed by the Nazis to be free from the Jews (“Judenfrei”).
Over 250 thousand Jews died in the Lviv ghetto and the Yanowska concentration camp during the 2 years of German occupation.
During the period of German occupation other locations of massive execution of Jews in Lviv were forest in Kryvchytsi, forest in Lysynychi (Lysynychi – a village, situated near Lviv, in the direction of Vynnyky and Ternopil), camp vicinities on the Yanivska street and the territory of the very camp.