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German troops occupied Lviv at the end of June 1941. In September 1941, the Nazis set up an armaments factory using slave labor on Yanivska Street in a northwestern suburb of the city. A month later, a concentration camp was established adjacent to the factory. Officially named the Zwangsarbeitslager Lemberg-Janowska and classified as transit and forced labor camp, Janowska/Yanivsky was in effect a death camp. Killing by shooting usually took place at the Piaski ravine north of the camp near the Lysynychi forest, and at the so-called “Valley of Death” adjacent to the camp.
Many of the inmates were held in the camp for later transportation to Belzec extermination camp and were killed there. The number of those killed at the site of Yanivsky camp and its direct vicinity is difficult to establish, but estimates are from 100,000 to 120,000. The total number of prisoners, or of those taken to Belzec for extermination, is even more difficult to assess, and no reliable figures are as yet available.
The size of the camp was gradually reduced during the early months of 1943, and most of its remaining inmates were killed. In the summer of 1943, the Nazis began to destroy the evidence of their activities in Yanivsky camp as part of the operation “Aktion 1005”, which the Nazis carried out in Eastern Europe in an attempt to remove the traces of their extermination policies. To do this, they organized the remaining inmates into Sondercommandos, known as Death Brigades, which were to open the graves of the victims and burn or otherwise destroy their remains. The details of the operation in the Yanivsky camp are known from the testimony of Dr. Leon Wieliczkier-Wells who was a member of a camp Death Brigade, and who testified at the Eichmann trial in 1961, and published his memoirs. During the Soviet period, the site of “Death Valley” was used by the Ministry of the Interior for the training of dogs and part of the site of the camp has been used as a prison. After the political changes in Ukraine in 1991, numerous initiatives were launched to establish a memorial on the site, and in 2003 a memorial stone was placed at its entrance near to where mass shootings took place.

The competition site covers 2.26 hectares of the Kortumov Hill Nature Reserve located in a northwestern suburb of Lviv. A prison operated by the Ukrainian Ministry of the Interior is adjacent to the competition site, and occupies an area where the barracks of the Yanivsky concentration camp used to be. It is envisaged that in the future this area might become part of a larger memorial complex and contain a museum.

The site itself is an abandoned piece of land with a few rundown buildings, an overgrown pond and sprawling trees, all run to seed. Nothing more than a single commemorative stone at the entrance is there to mark the place where, under the Nazi regime during the Second World War, people were imprisoned and mass killings took place. Despite Nazi efforts to destroy the evidence of their crimes at the end of the war by, for example, burning the corpses of their victims, historians believe there are undiscovered graves on the site. 

 

Shoes of the victims of Yanivsky camp, 1944Bone-crushing machine at the site of mass graves at Yanivsky campVisit of Fritz Katzmann, SS and Police Leader (SS-und Polizeifuhrer) in the District of Galicia to Yanivsky campWire fence of the Yanivsky campView at the prison on the site of former Yanivsky camp, 1990sMemorial plaque