The Zwangsarbeitslager-Lemberg (ZAL-L) or The Janowska Camp

ID: 2603

The Zwangsarbeitslager-Lemberg (ZAL-L) was established immediately adjacent to the Deutsche Ausrüstungswerke (DAW) in early 1942. In addition to forced labor, the camp operated as a dedicated killing site with thousands of Jews and the transit site to Bełżec and Sobibor extermination centers. It was liquidated in July 1944.


The Zwangsarbeitslager-Lemberg (ZAL-L) was established immediately adjacent to the Deutsche Ausrüstungswerke (DAW) in early 1942. Its first commandant was SS-Untersturmführer Gustav Willhaus, who had earlier served as the deputy to the DAW commandant, Fritz Gebauer. He was succeeded by SS-Hauptsturmführer Friedrich Warzok who took over the camp in June 1943 and was in charge through its final liquidation and the evacuation of the few surviving prisoners in July 1944.

Its location greatly improved its function as a slave labor camp providing Jewish labor to German firms and the military throughout the city and inside the camp. Janowska also served as a prison for short-term punishment for non-Jewish prisoners who had run afoul of German authorities. These prisoners, with set sentences and separate accommodations, were mostly petty criminals. (StAL: EL 317 III, Bü 1721, 17-18) Janowska also functioned as the transit camp for the deportations of Lwów’s Jews (as well as the surrounding district) to their deaths in the Bełżec and Sobibor extermination centers. In this way, it enabled the murder of the 160,000 Jews of Lwów and of many other nearby communities.

Janowska’s role as permanent transit camp is less common among camps in the East. At least 200,000 people probably passed through it during the war. (Sandkühler, 1996, 190-191) Wendy Lower has described the camp as "the biggest Jewish labor and transit camp in Ukraine." (Lower, 2013, 133)

Further, the Janowska camp operated as a dedicated killing site with thousands of Jews murdered in the sandy draws and ravines behind the camp. There were at least thirteen large-scale Aktions against the Jews of Lwów. Some of the victims were killed directly in the camp while others were deported to Bełżec or Sobibor. During some of these Aktions, all the killing was done at Janowska. However, these "peak" killing events accompanied routine killings, large and small. As in many camps, constant selections ensured that those not capable of work ended up in the Sands (Piaski). Groups of hundreds and sometimes thousands of Jews were also murdered as a matter of routine. After the Operation Reinhard camps (specifically Bełżec) ceased operation, Janowska became the primary Final Solution murder site for Lwów and the surrounding area. In addition to Jews, the SS also killed mentally ill patients there, they murdered foreign citizens from America, Britain, and Palestine there, and they killed Italian prisoners of war there after Italy’s surrender in 1943.

During its existence, it is most likely that the Janowska camp killed more Jews than Majdanek, sometimes considered an extermination camp itself. Records are incomplete but Thomas Sandkühler has proposed 80,000 victims. (Sandkühler, 1996, 190-191) Scholar Martin Winstone has written that "Although there were no gas chambers in Janowska, it is likely that more people were murdered there, mostly by shooting than at Majdanek." (Winstone, 2015, 189)

The guard force at Janowska likewise reflected the complexities of Holocaust perpetrators. Trawniki men (those selected from POWs and trained at Trawniki) and Ukrainian guards made up the majority of guards, while the SS men were a mixture of Reich Germans and Volksdeutsche recruited from Yugoslavia and Hungary and trained at the Trawniki camp which also provided guards to the extermination centers. The ZAL-L also served as a makeshift training center and hub of killing, sending its SS-men to manage and then liquidate nearby camps and ghettos in Distrikt Galizien from which they would return "home." In addition, Janowska participated in the massive expropriation of Jewish property, from collecting valuables before killing to sorting and repairing clothing from Bełżec for return to the Reich. Many prisoners successfully escaped. Its urban location and local prisoner population allowed close connections with the ghetto, linking the story of the camp closely with the Holocaust in Lwów.

Later, the camp served as the first major base of operations for the Sonderkommando 1005 after the extermination centers. The "Death Brigade" formed from Janowska prisoners also witnessed continuing mass executions at Janowska and another site in Lwów, behavior somewhat unusual for SK1005. It became a school for leadership of other SK1005 units, as their leaders came to observe as the Janowska Death Brigade unearthed thousands of bodies including Polish intelligentsia and Soviet prisoners of war from Stalag 328, located in the fortifications (The Citadel) in the city center, 4km from the camp. The SS from Janowska and Lwów murdered the remainder of the ghetto there before evacuating, bringing some of the camp survivors to Płaszów and even Auschwitz.

Related Stories

Related Places


Deutscheausrüstungswerke (DAW)

Both parts of the camp, ZAL-L and DAW, were closely connected.

Show full description

The Kleparów Station

Station played a central role as a deportation site as well as for delivering materials for construction.

Show full description


Sites of mass murder of Jews near Janowska camp.

Show full description


Gustav Willhaus — first commandant of the camp, who had earlier served as the deputy to the DAW commandant, Fritz Gebauer;
Friedrich Warzok — commandant of the camp since June 1943 through its final liquidation in July 1944.



1. AP, "700,000 Reported Slain in 3 Camps: Americans and Britons among Gestapo Victims in Lwow, Poland, Says Russian Body," New York Times, 24 December 1944, 10. "У звітах радянської Надзвичайної державної комісії запропоновано надзвичайно високу та необґрунтовану кількість 130 000 і 200 000".
2. "Drix, Samuel, Tagebuch, 1942-1943" (StAL: EL 317 III, Bü 1721), 17-18. Примітка: це документ, який у 1945 році написав д-р Дрікс за закликом Філіпа Фрідмана;
3. Wendy Lower, Hitler's Furies: German Women in the Nazi Killing Fields (New York: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2013), 133.
4. Thomas Sandkühler, "Endlösung" in Galizien: Der Judenmord in Ostpolen Und Die Rettungsinitativen Von Berthold Beitz, 1941-1944 (Bonn: Dietz, 1996), 190-191.
5. Martin Winstone, The Dark Heart of Hitler's Europe: Nazi Rule in Poland under the General Government (2015), 189.

Author – Waitman Wade Beorn
Editing – Andriy Usach, Taras Nazaruk