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The World Turned Upside Down: The Warsaw Ghetto

Constructing the ghetto wall, Swietokrzyska Street. CL:Bundesarchiv
"The candle of our souls is still flickering but we sense that in a moment it will be extinguished."
Chaim A. Kaplan, The Warsaw Diary. June 27, 1942

The Warsaw Ghetto was officially established on October 2, 1940. Surrounded by a 10 foot high wall topped with broken glass and barbed wire, the ghetto population contained nearly 500,000 people. Overcrowding, malnutrition, and disease caused daily fatalities in the ghetto. In 1941 alone, nearly 40,000 died of disease and starvation. Death by "natural means" was deliberate policy for the ghettos.

During the Operation Reinhard liquidation, from July through September 1942, nearly 300,000 Jews were deported from Warsaw to the killing center at Treblinka. Only 50,000 "work" Jews remained in the ghetto, when further attempts to deport Jews met with resistance. This in turn led to the revolt of April- May 1943 and the eventual destruction and leveling of the ghetto.

Death in the Warsaw Ghetto, 1940. CL:Bundesarchi

In the streets, hungry and homeless. CL:Bundesarchiv

"The Jewish quarter extends over about 1.016 acres. ...Occupancy therefore works out at 15.1 persons per apartment and six to seven persons per room."
Waldemar Schoen, German Official in Warsaw, January 1941.

"Whoever will endure, whoever will survive the diseases that range in the qhetto because of the dreadful congestion, the filth and uncleanness, because of having to sell your last shirt for half a loaf of bread. whoever will be that hero. will tell the terrible story of a generation and an age when human life was reduced to the subsistence of abandoned dogs in a desolate city." Peretz Opoczynski, Warsaw, 1941

Ghetto marketplace, 1940. CL:BPK

Transport to forced labor site outside the ghetto. CL:Bundesarchiv

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