The German Nazi labour and concentration camp Plaszow was created by the Germans in October 1942 in Kraków on the site of two former Jewish cemeteries in the Wola Duchacka district. It was established as a labour camp (Zwangsarbeitslager – ZAL) and was intended for Jews from the Kraków ghetto liquidated in March 1943. In 1943-1944, also the Jews who survived the closing of the ghettos in Bochnia, Tarnów, Wieliczka, Rzeszów, Przemyśl and the Szebnia labour camp where deported to KL Plaszow. Other inmates were residents of Kraków and its vicinity.
In January 1944, the labour camp was transformed into a concentration camp (Konzentrationslager Plaszow bei Krakau – KL Plaszow). In 1944, KL Plaszow also served as a transitional camp for Jews from Hungary, deported to KL Auschwitz. From the spring of 1944, trainloads of prisoners evacuated from the camps in the Lublin and Radom districtes were transported to KL Plaszow. Prisoners were taken from KL Plaszow to other labour camps and concentration camps.
It is estimated that over the period of operation of the camp, more than 35,000 people were imprisoned there, and the number of victims murdered in the camp was about 6,000. The largest group were Jews – victims of the liquidation of the Krakow ghetto and those caught with so-called Aryan documents, sent to death through the selection process in the camp. Inmates from the Montelupi Street prison in Krakow – Poles, Jews and other nationalities – were also shot dead in the camp. Executions and burials took place in three sites: next to an old cemetery and at two former artillery positions, called H górka and C Dołek.
At the peak of the camp’s development (mid-1944), the number of prisoners was more than 20,000 with about 200 buildings within its perimeter: prisoner and production barracks, utility buildings, camp infrastructure,houses and flats occupied by the camp’s personnel.
The area of the camp covered 80 ha. In August 1944 the liquidation of KL Plaszow began. The Germans started the removal of prisoners and camp infrastructure (some barracks, workshop equipment, etc.). On January 14, 1945, the last group of approximately six hundred KL Plaszow inmates set off on foot for KL Auschwitz. Between 19 January and the end of 1945, the Red Army was stationed in the camp, destroying the camp grounds. After the Soviets’ departure the camp became accessible to anyone and the process of devastation progressed.