Within the five months following the occupation, the Germans deported around 70,000 Jews for
work. Many Jews left the city and fled to the
ghetto was officially opened and 164,000 remaining Jewish inhabitants were forced to move there.
supervised the ghetto and guarded the Jews. The ghetto area of four square kilometres became the
most densely populated part of Lodz.
Around 200,000 Jews (including approximately 38,500 deported Jews from Germany, Austria,
Czechoslovakia and Luxemburg) vegetated in wretched wooden houses comprising 31,271 apartments.
Living and, particularly, sanitary conditions were disastrous. Apart from the lack of food, only 725
apartments had running water, there was no sewerage, no coal or wood for heating the rooms, no warm
clothes and shoes. As a consequence, 21% of the ghetto population died in various epidemics, of starvation
or were frozen to death.
Economic plunder took place in two ways, the confiscation of Jewish property and
enforced labour in as many as 96 newly built ghetto workshops and factories, where starvation
forced the Jews to work strenuously for a piece of bread and some soup. This work as well as
all other Jewish affairs within the ghetto was managed by the Judenrat
/ Council of the Eldest), which was established by the
Germans in October 1940
. It was led by Mordechai Chaim Rumkowski
(official title: Ältester der Juden
/ Eldest of the Jews).
managed the inadequate food rations, 5 hospitals, 47 schools, the allocation of quarters,
the Jewish Order Service and even a ghetto prison.
Because the ghettos were only intended to be temporary, the fate of the Lodz Jews
was extermination. On 16 January 1942
Chelmno Extermination Camp
began. The Ältestenrat
was forced to select a specific number of people for each transport.
Between January and May 1942
, 55,000 Jews and 5,000 Gypsies were sent to
Between 5 and 12 September 1942
, 12,000 Jews were deported to the same
destination. This bloody week was known as
= to walk, Sperre
= block / Engl.: curfew). During the Aktion Gehsperre
the ghetto hospital was closed. Its patients were the first to be deported, followed by nearly
all other elderly or infirm people. Children were separated from their parents and also deported.
prepared this deportation, which was of course based on
German orders. In his famous speech he said: "They demand what is most dear to (the ghetto) –
children and old people.
By September 1942
, all Jews from the Warthegau
for the annexed Western
part of Poland) had been either murdered or expelled, apart from the 77,000 Jews remaining in Lodz.
Consequently the extermination facilities in Chelmno
were closed and the
deportations from the Lodz ghetto ceased. For 19 months, until May 1944
ghetto was turned into a labour
camp: 90% of the Jews worked in the ghetto factories. Older people, children and most of
the women were no longer among them.
|Deportation to Chelmno *
In spring 1944
the Germans decided to liquidate the ghetto.
re-established and in early June 1944
the first transport of this second
wave left Lodz. Between that date and 15 July
7,176 Jews were sent to Chelmno
and perished there. From
the new destination was
. By 30 August 1944
approximately 67,000 Lodz Jews had been sent there.
Around 800 Jews were kept in a barrack to clean the ghetto area. Tons of the deportees'
belongings were collected and sent to Germany. In autumn 1944
, 40-60 vans left the
former ghetto every day.
These remaining workers were intended to be subsequently shot, the burial pits already having been
dug at the Jewish cemetery. Fortunately the potential victims heard about the planned executions.
They escaped and hid in the ghetto. On 19 January 1945
they were rescued by the Red Army.
The total number of survivors of the Lodz Jewish community, which in 1939
exceeded 220,000 people, has been estimated at only 5,000-7,000.
See the names of 7,168 individuals from Lodz who were transferred to the death camp at
, between June and August 1944
"Lodz Transports to the Chelmno Extermination Camp"
Encyclopedia of the Holocaust
R. Gertz * www.foto-onlineauktionen.de
© ARC 2005