Collaboration or survival: Jewish Order Service

ID: 239
Was the Jewish Order Service a place of help for Jews, or a gathering place for bandits and scum. Co-existance of community and Jewish Order Service. 

This story elaborates on the theme Holocaust Topography, that was prepared as a part of the program The Complicated Pages of Common History: Telling About World War II in Lviv.

When I write about this institution, I feel great pain and deep shame. While the supply department was tasked with transferring Jewish property to the Germans, the Ordnungsdienst, the Ghetto Order Service, like the Jewish militia, was to sacrifice Jews to the German Moloch.

David Kahane

Diaries of the Lviv ghetto

The Jewish Order Service (Judischer Ordnungsdienst, JOD) was a police force in the General Government established to enforce orders from the German occupation authorities and to maintain order in Jewish residential districts.

Officially, the JOD began operating in Lviv in early November 1941, although the process of preparation for its formation started in August 1941: it is known about the existence of the law enforcement service at the Judenrat. To set up the new body, the Jewish police chief Józef Szeryński arrived from Warsaw.

The JOD consisted of four departments: 1. Order Service; 2. Jewish Criminal Police; 3. Special Service (engaged in the search for political suspects, such as the left-wing activists); 4. Jewish Police. David Kahane mentioned the existence of three commissariats, which were assigned certain parts of the Jewish ghetto:

Initially, the Jewish police department was located in the Judenrat building, on vul. Muliarska 2A (ul. Starotandetna). After the ghetto was created, it was divided into three commissariats. One of them was placed on vul. Sholom Aleikhema (ul. Bernsteina), in the house where the Yad Harutzim used to be located. The Criminal Police department (KriPo) was also located there. The second commissariat was located on vul. Zamarstynivska 132 and the third one on vul. Znesinnia.

While at first the police was joined by educated and intelligent people, later the police composition changed significantly. Rabbi David Kahane recalls how he became a "pseudo policeman":

One of my neighbours, a former lawyer, Dr. R., was the deputy chief of the Jewish police. On Thursday I went to see him, told him my story and asked him to "enroll" me in the police force during the action. The following morning he brought me a cap, a yellow police armband, and a service ID issued by the Jewish Ordnungs-Dienst, stating that I was assigned to the second commissariat, located on vul. Zamarstynivska 132, as an assistant police officer.

… This cap made me "invisible". It allowed me to see what I would have never seen otherwise and what would still be unknown to the world, had I continued to hide in my hiding place.

The orders given to the police faced them with difficult moral choices. It was the police that provided for assembling Jews to perform forced labour. JOD officers arrested people on the streets and took them from their homes. Failure to comply with such orders threatened death, so soon only those who were ready to comply with any demands of the occupying power remained in the police. However, this did not always save the policemen from death. A case is known when the Nazis executed twelve policemen together with the head of the Judenrat, Dr. Landsberg.

Police often took the opportunity to accept bribes from ordinary Jews for not taking them to forced labour. David Kahane wrote:

I know many policemen who risked their lives to save Jewish families from death. However, there also were others who demanded a reward for such a rescue. Among them, there were many professional extortioners as well who used this unworthy occupation to earn a good life for themselves.

Many will later write that the Jewish Order Service in Lviv was "a stain on the history of the Lviv ghetto."

After the ghetto was turned into the Julag, the entire JOD came under the control of the security police and the SD. Of course, even the service in the JOD could not save the Jews from death. The totality of the Holocaust did not presuppose that at least one Jew survived.

The Jewish Order Service worked not only in the ghetto or in the Julag, but also in the Janowska camp. David Kahane describes the actions of the service staff while he was in the camp:

Suddenly, Ormland and a group of Jewish police broke into the barracks. "Are you crazy?! So you wanted to sing?" They were striking left and right. They jumped on the bunks, beat the prisoners and threw them onto the floor.

In December 1943, after another reduction of the ghetto territory and its transformation into the Julag, only the headquarters of the JOD on ul. Hermana 15 and the prison for Jews on ul. Wierzbickiego (now vul. Balzaka) remained. Finally, JOD employees and their families were killed during the final liquidation of the Julag in May-June 1943.

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1. ДАЛО Р.35/155/2
2. Давид Кахане, Рабин, Щоденник Львівського гетто (Київ, Дух і літера, 2003), 267.
3. Элияху Йонес, Евреи Львова в годы Второй мировой войны и Катастрофы европейского еврейства 1939-1944 (Москва, Российская библиотека холокоста, 1999), 488.
4. Філіп Фрідман, Винищення львівських євреїв (Видання Центральної Єврейської Історичної Комісії при Центральному Комітеті Польських Євреїв № 4)

Cover photo: Ośrodek KARTA
Olena Andronatiy
Translated by Andriy Masliukh