Kraków District

Kraków District
Distrikt Krakau

Administrative map of the General Government in August 1941 following Barbarossa. District of Kraków, lower centre

Kraków District (German: Distrikt Krakau, Polish: Dystrykt krakowski) was one of the Nazi German administrative units of the semi-colonial General Government during World War II in occupied Poland. It was established on October 12, 1939 by Adolf Hitler, with the capital in occupied Kraków – the historic residence of Polish royalty. The Nazi Gauleiter Hans Frank became the Governor-General of the entire territory of General Government (German: Generalgouvernement).[1] He made his residence in Kraków at the heavily guarded Wawel castle. Frank was the former legal counsel to the Nazi Party.[2]


The first Governor of the Kraków District was SS Major General Otto Wächter (until 1942). He took over the neighbouring District of Galicia after the launch of Operation Barbarossa against the Soviet forces in eastern Poland. Wächter was replaced in Kraków by SS Major General Richard Wendler (Himmler's brother-in-law). He in turn was made the Governor of District Lublin in July 1943.[1] The first German SS-and-Police Leader for District Kraków was SS Lieutenant General Karl Zech (until 1940), replaced by SS Colonel Julian Scherner (from 1941 until February 1944), and finally the SS General Theobald Thier, until the German evacuation from the area in January 1945. The Commander of Security Police and SD for District Kraków was SS-Lieutenant Colonel Max Grosskopf.[1]

A little over two months after the invasion of Poland, the new Gestapo chief of Kraków SS-Obersturmbannführer Bruno Müller had launched his Sonderaktion Krakau, shutting down all universities and high schools, and arresting leading academics; eventually killing President of Kraków Dr. Stanisław Klimecki.[3][4]

Beginning 20 March 1941 the Kraków Ghetto was formally established among the first one hundred Jewish ghettos in German-occupied Poland with other ghettos outside Kraków formed later that year and in 1942.[5] District Kraków was the location of genocidal Kraków-Płaszów concentration camp commanded by Amon Goeth. It was built in a suburb of Kraków less than a hundred kilometres away from the Auschwitz-Birkenau extermination camp. Kraków became the headquarters of Security Police (SIPO) and the SD intelligence agency for Operation Reinhard which marked the most deadly phase of the Final Solution.[1]

For more details on this topic, see Jewish ghettos in German-occupied Poland.


  1. 1 2 3 4 Holocaust Encyclopedia. "German occupation". Krakow (Cracow). United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. Retrieved 11 July 2014.
  2. Yad Vashem. "Generalgouvernement" (PDF). Shoah Resource Center, The International School for Holocaust Studies. pp. 1/2. Retrieved 9 July 2014.
  3. Andrzej Roman Małecki (December 15, 2002). "Dr Stanisław Klimecki (1883–1942) – bohaterski prezydent wojennego Krakowa (The courageous President of war-torn Kraków)". Znani krakowianie. W 60. rocznicę śmierci. Tygodnik Salwatorski. Numer: 50/417. Retrieved May 15, 2012.
  4. "Stanisław Klimecki". Archiwum ofiar terroru nazistowskiego i komunistycznego w Krakowie 1939 – 1956 (in Polish). Muzeum Historyczne Miasta Krakowa. Retrieved May 15, 2012.
  5. Dan Michman (2011). The Emergence of Jewish Ghettos During the Holocaust. Translated by Lenn J. Schramm (illustrated ed.). Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press. p. 83. ISBN 9780521763714.
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