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Days of Nightmare: The Lodz Ghetto

Children at hard labor. CL:Kibbutz Lohamei Hagetaot.

The deportation of Jews from Lodz, March 1940. CL:Bundesarchiv.

"This morning the ghetto received a horrifying shock. Children to the age of ten are to be torn away from their parents. brothers and sisters. and deported. Old people over 65 are being robbed of their last life-saving plank. They are being sent away like useless ballast." Josef Zelkowicz, Chronicler, Lodz Ghetto, September 4, 1942.

At the ghetto border. CL:Bundesarchiv.


"By the fifth of March. 1940, all Jews had to leave the town. Every day one could see them in snow- covered streets. Caravans of people carrying on their backs pieces of furniture, bags and suitcases sledges piled high with possessions and small hand-carts pushed along by frightened children."
Sara Selwer-Urbach, Mib'ad Halon Beiti.

Family bids farewell upon separation and deportation. CL:Kibbutz Lohamei Hagetaot.

In Lodz, Poland, the first major ghetto was created by the Nazis. Sealed with a barbed wire wall in April 1940, it held 165,000 Jewish residents. Forced resettlement from surrounding Polish towns swelled the ghetto population to over 200,000 by the end of 1941, including 5,000 Gypsies.

As in every ghetto, overcrowding, disease, lack of food, fuel and sanitation were the norm. More than 50,000 Jews died from malnutrition and disease in the Lodz ghetto.

After the decision to murder all the Jews of Europe was made in 1941, the Nazis began deporting the ghetto's old, young and weak to killing centers. By the end of 1942, over 80,000 had been deported from the Lodz ghetto to Chelmno (Kulmhof). Those Jews remaining were used for slave labor.
Jewish policeman patrols ghetto street. CL:Bundesarchiv.

Bridge connects two parts of the ghetto separated by the street below, 1941. CL:Bundesarchiv.

Jewish labor in ghetto factory. CL:Bundesarchiv.
"Here people are necessary. are needed for work. It is not possible that they would take people from here and send them away." Joseph Zelkowicz, Chronicler, Lodz Ghetto, September 4, 1942.
The Lodz ghetto was the last Polish ghetto to be liquidated, providing a source of forced labor until August 1944. At that time, the remaining Jews were deported to Auschwitz-Birkenau for extermination.

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