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Lublin Annexation - 18/09/39

Updated: Sep 18, 2023

This is the return from a KB41 Series we run (Last year 2022) to commemorate the start of WW2 with rare photographs from the collection of the invasion. This year we remember the event and the fallen again. 84 Years ago today. This photograph doesn't have a date but the reverse tells us its from Lublin, a region of Poland that was occupied on this day, 18th September 1939.


This photograph shows a group of Heer Soldaten on bicycles cycling through a welcoming point greeted by Polish civilians. The photograph depicts a road with large welcome archway made of wood, decorated with foliage and NSDAP sympathiser flags. This photograph likely taken by a Soldat of the Heer that are cycling through the archway or possibly a part of the supporting Aufklärungstruppe as seen in similar photographs from the collection of this period. The reverse information of this photograph reads as "Eine Deutsche Kolonie hinter Lublin" which translates to "A German colony in the near of Lublin (city in Poland)". Lublin (Lube-leen) is the 9th largest city in Poland and was the second largest city in lesser Poland and the largest city east of the Vistula river. Some 170 km by road south-east from Warsaw.

This photograph like many taken by Soldaten shows occupied territories of the Third Reich. This being the first occupied country the Axis forces invaded lead to many photographs of combat, occupation and scenes of welcome like this to document and show the war and show their service. Photographs to be sent home and their families proudly showcase their sons service and what they witnessed during the occupation of Poland.

The welcome archway, adorn with swastika banner and flags. These banners are unofficial NSDAP flags and banners that are made by sympathisers of the regime in Poland. This likely by ethnic Germans or "Volk Deutsche" people who support the party and the Third Reich in occupation. The writing underneath the welcome archway is illegible but is suggested to represent a patriotic or political message of welcome to the newly occupying axis forces. The banners seen hanging from the supporting columns appear to be Hitlerjugend variants of a banner, this possibly for Volk Deutsche Hitler youth in the area to show support. The Heer seen here are wearing M36 tunics with side caps cycling with military bicycles, Kar98ks across their shoulders and webbing belt orders can be seen. Bread bags packed out with mess tins and water bottles attached on the outside stalhelms and a zeltbahn rolled up and strapped to the bread bag. The Gas mask not seen worn in the early occupation is worn in the front of the Soldat as they ride. Also to note is the lack of Y-strap webbing in wear. Bicycles were commonly used as easy transport for the Wehrmacht forces.

The Region of Lublin housed a large population of Jews prior to World War 2. It is estimated that 40,000 Jews lived in this district. During the first few weeks of the war in 1939 many Jews fled to Lublin in refuge. As mentioned above and the suggested date in which this photograph, German forces occupied Lublin. The Germans immediately upon occupying the territory began to persecute the city's Jewish Population. Many of which were put to forced labour whilst some were attacked and executed by German forces. Jewish Property was damaged and confiscated by the new occupied German Forces.

Lublin in November 1939, Jews were forced to wear the Jewish badge. With this implemented came other restrictions and a curfew for Jews in Lublin, those who lived on the main street found themselves excited by German forces. Soon the NSDAP looked to deport all Jews from occupied Poland and territories of the Reich to the Lublin district which became known as the Nisko and Lublin, this plan was later scrapped but some 6,300 Jews were sent to the region in February 1940. Prior to this in January 1940, a "Judenrat" was implemented. The Judenrat set up welfare institutions such as soup kitchens, health services and orphanages within the Jewish occupied region of Lublin. The Judenrat was then ordered to provide lists of Jewish names as Germans added pressure to the organisation of the Jews in the district.

In the Spring of 1941, the Ghetto was established, some 10,000 Jews were deported to nearby towns as the Germans began to structure and organise the Ghetto. The Ghetto was instituted in March 1941 which housed 34,000 Jews.

Deportations of Jews to the Belzec Extermination Camp commenced on the 17th March 1942, seeing up to 1,400 Jews daily being deported to this Extermination camp. Belzec Extermination Camp was one of many extermination camps that were set up to help the German Reich implement Operation Reinhard, with this the plan to murder all of the Polish Jews as apart of the Final Solution. This Extermination camp like others within the Reich saw the use of Gaschambers to murder the prisoners. The deportation action from the Lublin Ghetto ended on April 20th 1942 after some 30,000 had been deported to their deaths. This left approximately some 4,000 Jews in the Ghetto. Over the coming months many were moved to the Lublin suburbs and from here were subject to Selecktion (Selection). Selecktion being a process in where Jews were selected for transport from their residence to a Konzentrationslager Kz (Concentration Camp) This of which was Majdanek, located on the outskirts of Lublin. The camp of Majdanek also held and Extermination Camp which saw the last Jews from Lublin murdered here in July 1944. The city of Lublin being liberated that same month by Soviet forces. This showing that from the years 1939-1944 approximately 34,000 Polish Jews living in Lublin were Murdered by the Third Reich.

This photograph showing an welcoming scene with a hidden ominous undertone for what would foreshadow not only the Jewish population of Lublin but also the many other Polish and other ethnicities living with Lublin and its suburbs. This was just the start of the occupation and would see the worst war crimes and crimes against humanity committed within the region and country. The civilians seen standing on the side of the road by their houses greeting their occupiers, some proud and joyous as they follow the regime as it occupies the district. The region to see combat of the attacking German Forces in 1939, possibly skirmishes on occasion by partisan forces and murders of Jews and others groups under the co-ordination of the sicherheitsdienst (SD) and later fighting in 1944 to the liberation saw the landscape and population decline with very few survivors from both occupations of those persecuted. There is some survivors, like that of Luba Elbaum, a Polish Jews. Who's stories like this photograph stand the test of time to remember and reflect on a period of the worst events in human history.

KB41 Collection Remembers and Reflects


Reference and Credits to Yad Vashem Museum, Israel for their information.

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