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The Lodz Ghetto

Children in the Lodz Ghetto

Inn 1939 Lodz (Litzmannstadt, Lodzh) had a Jewish Community of over 200,000, which was about 1/3 of the city's total population. Lodz was the second largest city in Poland and the second largest Jewish center after Warsaw in all of Europe. On February 8, 1940, an order appeared, over the signature of Johann Schaefer, the Chief of Police in Lodz, establishing the Ghetto following the orders of Friedrich Uebelhauer, Governor of Kalisz District. The Ghetto was within the poorest quarter of the town - Baluty. It was covering area of 4 km2, as fixed on April 30, 1940. Surrounded by a wooden fence with barbed wire it was crowded with 164,000 people in indescribable conditions. In later days , 1941-1942, the population of the Ghetto was 204,800 persons. The Nazi authority over the Ghetto was in the hands of Hans Biebov. He established within it a number of workshops and small factories, employing the inmates, who were "paid" with a slice of bread and a bowl of "soup". Beginning on May 25, 1940, these workplaces provided the German rulers with about 350 million Deutsche Marks of estimated loot. Order and security of boundaries in the Ghetto was the concern of one colonel Walter Rudolf Keuck, at the head of special SS units. There was also criminal police called: "KriPo". This latter was mainly concerned with ferreting out Jewish possessions and taking them away. It was notorious for its cruelty and sadism.

Thehe internal organization of the Ghetto was the domain of the Aeltestenrat, practically concentrated in Rumkowski's hands. The chief task was providing work-force for the workshops and factories, numbering 96. Most were textile enterprises, with a work-force of over 70,000. Rumkowski and his people saw in these some hope of survival for a number of inmates. The German authorities forced Rumkowski to organize the groups for deportation, and assemble them in lots set aside for that purpose at the periphery of the Ghetto, and to submit lists of deportees. Work-camps were the likely destination of deportations during the period December 1940 - end of June 1942. As of January 16, 1942, deportations went to Chelmno nad Nerem (Kulmhof) killing place. Most of those arriving in Chelmno were murdered on the same day. In the period October 1942 - May 1944 the Ghetto became a big labor camp. At the end of that period, the population of the Ghetto was still about 77,000 persons.

In n the Spring, 1944, the Germans decided to liquidate the Ghetto. From June 23, 1944 till July 15, 1944 Germans re-activated the death factory in Chelmno nad Nerem (Kulmhof) and murdered there 7,176 persons. Due to the slowness of the killing in Chelmno nad Nerem, on August 7 they started deporting to Auschwitz -Birkenau. On August 30, 1944 the last transport left Lodz. The Germans planned to kill all survivors and concentrated them in a camp they maintained on Jakuba Street. They also prepared pits in the Jewish cemetery. However the Jews hid in the Ghetto - 800 persons - and were liberated by the Red Army on January 19, 1945. The total number of survivors of the Lodz Ghetto is estimated at 7,000 persons.