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The Lodz and Warsaw Ghettos

WWW Research by Allyson Spacht, Cold Spring
Harbor High School, in Cold Spring Harbor,
New York, United States

[ Warsaw Ghetto Memorial ]
Warsaw Ghetto Memorial

The Holocaust was a time of pain and anguish for over eleven million people. Millions of Jews, Romas, and other "undesirables" were killed. But before these people were packed into cattle cars and shipped off to their deaths in concentration camps, they were enclosed in a living hell. Thousands of people were consolidated into living areas too small for one hundred people. These ghettos were established across Europe. The Lodz ghetto and the Warsaw ghetto were two large ghettos in Poland, and they alone claimed thousands of lives.

[ Map of Modern Poland ]

The community of Lodz, second to Warsaw, was the largest community in Poland. In February of 1940, all of the "undesirables" in Lodz were forced into the northeastern section of Lodz to form a ghetto. The ghetto was sealed on May 7, 1940, containing 165,000 people in 1.6 square miles. The ghetto was separated from the rest of the community by barbed wire fences. Streetcars were allowed to travel through, but not stop, in the ghetto. Most of the community did not have running water or a sewer system.

On January 16, 1942, deportations to the Chelmno killing center began. German soldiers killed the majority of the Jewish children, elderly, and the sick on the spot. Over 75,000 people were sent to Chelmno and killed in mobile gas vans. Lodz was the last remaining ghetto in the spring of 1944, containing 75,000 people. The Nazis aimed to destroy the ghetto and continued deportations to Chelmno. The remaining Jews were then shipped to Auschwitz-Birkenau, and the Lodz ghetto looked as though it had never existed.

Warsaw was the center of Jewish life before World War II. Warsaw housed over 350,000 Jews. The Germans occupied Warsaw on September 29, 1939. The order for the establishment of the Warsaw ghetto came in 1940. The ghetto was sealed on November 15, 1940, and ultimately contained 500,000 people. It was enclosed by a ten foot wall, which was topped with barbed wire. The ghetto was closely guarded to prevent movement between it and the rest of Warsaw.

From July 22 to September 12, 1942, 265,000 Jews were being ripped away from their homes and families to be sent to the Treblinka death camp. They were exterminated in the gas chamber in Treblinka. Extermination squads soon reduced the ghetto to half of its original size. Mass deportations began, leaving 40,000 people in the ghetto by January of 1943. On April 19, 1943, the starved, untrained, and lightly armed Jews fought back against the German troops. These street war uprisings took place from April 19 to May 16, 1943.

On May 16, the liquidation of the Warsaw ghetto was officially declared by SS General Stroop at 8:15 PM with the demolition of the Warsaw synagogue.

During the Warsaw ghetto uprisings, sixteen Germans were killed, eighty-five were wounded, and there were seventeen unspecified losses. According to records, 56,065 Jews were caught and killed. The Warsaw Ghetto uprisings were some of the most remarkable displays of Jewish resistance.

The Lodz and Warsaw ghettos are just two examples of the torture that was endured throughout the Holocaust. The memory of these ghettos has survived despite constant denial of the Holocaust. It is important to recognize the pain and the suffering of the Jewish community in order to assure us that the past cannot and will not repeat itself, or be forgotten.


Resources on the World Wide Web

  1. Lodz Ghetto, Poland (Available):
    http://www.ushmm.org/outreach/lghetchr.htm
  2. Warsaw Ghetto:
    http://www.ushmm.org/outreach/waz54063.htm
  3. Warsaw Ghetto Chronology (Not Available):
    http://www.bxscience.edu/orgs/holocaust/edguide/3.html (1995)
  4. Time Line (Not Available):
    http://www2.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shtetl/relations/timeline.html

[ AETI 1998 Table of Contents ]


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