Holocaust The Ghettos
World War II began on September 1, 1939 when Germany invaded Poland and England and France came to its defense. Poland was defeated in a matter of weeks. There were 5.5 million Jews in Poland and western Soviet Union. The area had a history of anti-Semitism. Within a month of the defeat, the first ghetto was established in Piotrkow. timeline event Basically, the ghettos congregated the Jews for when the Nazis ultimately decided what to do with them.
Ghettos were established in most towns and cities. • People were told ahead of time that they were going into the ghetto. • They packed what they could carry and walked in. • Naturally, they had to leave behind most of their belongings. • They were assigned living • quarters and later jobs by a • Jewish council. • Families stayed together. Jews in line to enter the Warsaw Ghetto in Poland, 1940.
Photo 1: Jews of Lodz packing their belongings to move to the Lodz Ghetto. Photo 2: Non-Jews leaving the newly-established Lodz Ghetto and Jews arriving.
Later, Jews were sent to the large ghettos from rural areas, from ghettos in small towns as they were liquidated and finally in 1941 from Germany. These people were often transported by train. These people are arriving at the Lodz Ghetto from the ghetto in Pablianice, a suburb of Lodz, in May 1942.
The overcrowding in the ghettos was terrible. In Warsaw, the largest of the ghettos, 400,000 to 600,000 people were crowded into 3.5 square miles. The Warsaw Ghetto, like all ghettos, was located in the worst area of the city. In Hampton, about 18,500 people live in four square miles.
Crowding in the Warsaw Ghetto Pawia Street Another crowded street
Contact with people outside the ghetto was forbidden, although sometimes contact did exist at first, especially when the ghetto was separated from the rest of the town by barbed wire. More often, they were separated by electrified fences or walls were constructed. The wall is being erected around the Warsaw Ghetto. This is part of the wall surrounding the Warsaw Ghetto
The ghetto was run by the Judenrat, a Jewish government and police. • The Judenrat assigned living quarters and jobs, said who would go on the transports, and maintained order. • They were generally hated as they had privileges and arrested, punished, and sometimes put to death their fellow Jews. They were seen as collaborating with the Nazis. • The Judenrat hoped that by following the Nazis’ orders and showing that the Jews were useful and not troublemakers, the Nazis would let the Jews, and especially them, live.
The ghetto residents existed on very meager rations, only what the Germans gave them. There was no fuel for heat. Sanitation was very poor and what few facilities were available were often broken. Disease was rampant. In 1941 in the Warsaw Ghetto, 100,000 people died of typhus, a disease that may be carried by lice.
The ghetto residents, even the children, worked if they could. Some left the ghetto each day to perform slave labor in factories or mines. Most worked inside the ghetto at jobs that aided the Nazis like sewing German Army uniforms. Others performed jobs that kept the ghetto functioning, but that, in essence, helped the Nazis also. Sewing uniforms Laboring in unsafe conditions
Why did they work at these jobs if they were helping their enemy, an enemy whose goal was their elimination? 1. Survival -food -keeping busy 2. They hoped that by making themselves useful, the Nazis would let them live.
In total, about one fifth of the ghettos’ inhabitants died. They died of disease, starvation, and exposure. For the Nazis, this wasn’t fast enough. In 1942 (timeline) they began deporting the remaining ghetto residents to death camps which they had been constructing in Poland.
Selections were sometimes made in the ghetto, but ghettos were mostly emptied by deportation notice or round-ups. Small ghettos may have been emptied all at once with everyone sent to a camp. Large ghettos like Warsaw and Lodz had daily quotas. The Judenrat would say who would go. The weak, sick, and old went first; they could not work. Sometimes the Nazis would come in and clear out an entire hospital or orphanage. Lodz Ghetto inhabitants being deported to Chelmno, a death camp. Warsaw Ghetto inhabitants waiting at the Umschlagplatz for the train to Treblinka.
Jews begins deported to Auschwitz in the final days of the Lodz Ghetto. They were usually transported by train. They did not know where they were going. They did not know of the death camps. They thought they were going to a work camp or factory.