Mielec, Poland: The Shtetl That Became a Nazi Con­cen­tra­tion Camp

Rochelle G. Saidel
  • Review
By – June 21, 2012

A Jew­ish com­mu­ni­ty in south­ern Poland, insti­tut­ed in the six­teenth cen­tu­ry, Mielec had flour­ished until the Holo­caust. Saidel pro­vides its past his­to­ry of accom­plish­ments and hard­ships, pho­tographs of its for­mer inhab­i­tants, inter­views with descen­dants of its cit­i­zens, and writ­ten accounts by some of those who had lived there. It was total­ly destroyed by the Nazis in one day, March 9, 1942. It went quick­ly from being a shtetl to a Nazi con­cen­tra­tion camp. The Nazis appro­pri­at­ed it because near­by, an air­plane fac­to­ry already exist­ed, which the Nazis could use to make their own planes. Some of its sur­viv­ing inhab­i­tants lived for months under ter­ri­ble con­di­tions around oth­er small Pol­ish towns. Coin­ci­den­tal­ly, Saidel’s child­hood Jew­ish teacher had come from there and as time went on, she came across more peo­ple now liv­ing in Israel who had come from there, or who were descend­ed from its for­mer cit­i­zens. Today, noth­ing and no one Jew­ish remains in Miel­ic. What Saidel pro­vides, after much research, are per­son­al tes­ti­monies from peo­ple whose fam­i­lies or friends came from that belea­guered shtetl and a pho­to­graph­ic gallery of Exile in the Lublin Dis­trict, Slave Labor in Mielec, and Mielec Today.” This is an infor­mal, albeit defin­i­tive his­to­ry of a Jew­ish town that was mur­dered in one day, and pro­vides addi­tion­al infor­ma­tion to the trag­ic his­to­ry of the Shoah. Index, notes, references.

Mar­cia W. Pos­ner, Ph.D., of the Holo­caust Memo­r­i­al and Tol­er­ance Cen­ter of Nas­sau Coun­ty, is the library and pro­gram direc­tor. An author and play­wright her­self, she loves review­ing for JBW and read­ing all the oth­er reviews and arti­cles in this mar­velous periodical.

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