The last Polish city before the Ukrainian border and former Austrian Fortress that fell to the Russians in the first World War, Przemysl is also a city with a strong Jewish community dating going as far back as the twelfth century, perhaps even the eleventh century. Before the Second World War, 20000 Jews lived here, or 40% of the population. In September 1939, after several days of German occupation, Przemysl was handed over to the Soviet-occupied zone. The Russians deported or evacuated 7000 Jews to the interior of the Soviet Union. In June 1941, the Germans occupied the city, created a ghetto, and then deported its inhabitants -first to Belzec, then to Auschwitz.
The Jewish quarter stretched across the slopes of “Castle Mountain”, between the San River, the marketplace, and Jagiellonska Street. The oldest synagogue in Przemysl, built in 1579 and designed by an Italian architect, was located at the intersection of Zydowska and Jagielonska streets. Another stood on the banks of the San; a third, the new Scheinbach Synagogue on Slowackiego Street, today serves as a library.
The synagogue in Unii Brzeskiej (Union of Brest) Square was built in the eighteenth century and reconstructed in 1963. Near the fortress, a monument commemorates the spot where the Jews of Przemysl’s “little ghetto” were executed.
In the cemetery on Slowackiego Street, a plaque has been mounted in remembrance of the mass executions that occured from 1941 to 1945.