Lodz Ghetto

The ghetto of Lodz (in German , Litzmannstadt ) was established by the Nazis in Poland occupied, between 19 and 25 January 1940. [ citation needed ] It was created by Hans Frank , Governor General German for Poland. It was the second ghetto largest after that of Warsaw . It was created to bring together Jews and Gypsies . Located in the city of Lodz , 120 km southwest of Warsaw in central Poland , it was originally intended as a point of concentration of Jewish population, transformed over time into an important industrial center, providing supplies for the war machine German

Due to its extraordinary productivity, the ghetto managed to survive until August 1944 , when the remaining population was deported to Auschwitz , being the last ghetto in Poland . It closed the 19 of January of 1945 with the arrival of the Soviets.


When the forces German occupied Lodz in September 1939 , the city had a population of 672,000 people, and more than a third of them Jews (233,000). Lodz was annexed directly to the German region Wartheland , being renamed Litzmannstadt in honor of a German general Karl Litzmann , who had directed the German forces in the area in 1914 , during the First World War . As such, the city was subjected to Aryanization process: the Jewish population should be expelled to the area of the General Government ; And the Polish population was significantly reduced and transformed into slave labor.

The first mention of the creation of a ghetto appears in a resolution of October to December of 1939 , speaking of a temporary gathering point for Jews in the city, to facilitate the deportation process. Before the 1 of October of 1940 deportation should have been completed, and the city have been Judenfrei (free of Jews).

The 8 of February of 1940 , the residence of Jews to the streets of the Old City and the neighborhood Baluty simply, areas that later would become the ghetto. On 1 March , a pogrom organized by the Nazis, in which many Jews died, accelerated the relocation. Over the next two months, wooden fences and barbed wire were built around the area, isolating Jews from the rest of the city. The Jews were officially closed in the ghetto on May 1 of that year.

Since tens of thousands of Jews had fled Lodz, the ghetto population at its creation was 164,000. Although in later years they would receive deported Jews from different parts of Central Europe and Western , from as far away as Luxembourg. In the ghetto, also he was deported a small Roma community.

To ensure that there was no contact between the ghetto population and the rest of the city, two German police units were designated to patrol the ghetto perimeter. While inside the ghetto, force was created Jewish police to try to prevent escape attempts. Any Jew caught outside the ghetto could, by law, be executed on the spot. On May 10, 1940, the ban on any commercial contact between Jews and non-Jews entered into force, under penalty of death.

In other ghettos in Poland, a hidden economy was developed based on the smuggling of food and manufactured goods between the ghetto and the outside world. In Lodz, however, this was practically impossible, and the Jews were totally dependent on the German authorities for food, medicine and other vital supplies. To aggravate the situation, the only legal tender in the ghetto was a currency created especially for this purpose.

First deportations

Overcrowding in the ghetto was compounded by the deportation of some 40,000 people from the surrounding areas, as well as from other parts of Germany, Luxembourg and the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia , in particular Terezin . The 20 of December of 1941 , the head of the Judenrat (Jewish Council) Rumkowski announced that 20,000 Jews would be deported from the ghetto, selected by the Judenrat between criminals, people who refused to work and people who took advantage of the refugees arriving In the ghetto.

The first deportees were sent to Chelmno , the first of the death camps of Operation Reinhard , where they were killed with carbon monoxide from a truck known as Gas van (the gas chambers still had not been built). Before 15 as maypole as 1942 , an estimated 55,000 people had been deported.

By September, however, Rumkowski and the ghetto had learned that deportation meant death. They had witnessed the German attack on a children’s hospital, when all the patients were arrested and put in trucks (some actually thrown from the windows), and never saw them again. A new German order demanded that 20,000 Jewish children be surrendered for deportation, a heated debate in the ghetto arose about who was to be delivered. After considering the options, Rumkowski was convinced that the only possibility of survival was to remain productive for the Reich. Despite the horror it meant, some parents gave their children away, believing that this sacrifice could secure the lives of Jews remaining in the ghetto.

The ghetto in 1944

During the year and a half thereafter seemed to Rumkowski he had managed to safeguard most of the ghetto population, since the deportations after the release of children detained.

By 1944 the ghetto of źódź, with 70,000 inhabitants, was the one that congregated the largest number of Jews in all Eastern Europe, having transformed itself virtually into a great Field of Work, where the survival depended solely on the capacity to work. Schools and hospitals were closed down, establishing new factories, including armament factories.

Moreover, in the early spring of 1944 to counter the Soviet Army was to just a few dozen kilometers away from Łódź and seemed to ghetto survivors would have been saved. Suddenly, however, the Soviets stopped their advance, resuming it only on June 22, when the Belarussian offensive began .

The closure of the ghetto

The final destination of the Lodz ghetto, had been discussed between the Nazis since 1943. Heinrich Himmler had requested the final liquidation of the ghetto, moving the handful of remaining workers to a concentration camp on the outskirts of Lublin , while The Minister of Armaments Albert Speer , advocated for the continuity of the ghetto as a source of cheap labor, especially necessary at the time the war had begun to be adverse for Germany.

In the summer of 1944, it was finally decided to begin with the gradual liquidation of the remaining population. From 23 June to 15 July, about 7,000 Jews were deported to the extermination camp of Chelmno , where they were killed. With Soviet troops increasingly close, it was decided to transport the remaining Jews, including Rumkowski, to Auschwitz . On August 28, 1944, Rumkowski and his family were murdered in Auschwitz.

The liquidation of the ghetto then began quickly, either to death camps or industrial facilities, leaving only 900 people to clean the ghetto, which survived until the Soviet army liberated źódź on January 19, 1945 . In all, only 10,000 of the 204,000 Jews who passed through the Lodz ghetto survived the war.