Experience: Ghettos

Fani Adelsberg
Nettie Adelsberg
Pearl Adler
Sonia Aisner
Ella Baker
Leo Beals
Hajnal Bechky
Bertha Beitner
Jacob Beitner
James Berger
Edith Berman
Ella Berman
Ludwig Berman
Rose Bernbaum
Isaac Besserman
Leo Besserman
Sally Biederman
Miriam Biegun
Sam Biegun
Bela Bienenstock
Simon Binke
Rose Bohm
Jacob Brull
Miriam Brysk
Aron Bud
Magda Budaj
Bella Camhi
Ibolya Centeri
Uncle Sam Chesla
Henia Ciesla
Isadore Ciesla
Edith Cimmer
Sarah Cwagenberg
Henry Dorfman
Mala Dorfman
Hilde Dreifus
Phyllis Einhorn
Belle Eisenberg
Luba Elbaum
Irena Erlich
Louis Falek
Joseph Farkas
Albert Fein
Leon Feld
Sylvia Feld
Manya Feldman
Miriam Ferber
Charlotte Firestone
Ben Fisk
Lillian Fixler
Morris Fixler
Fryda Fleish
Teddy Freund
Aaron Friedman
Doris Friedman
Erno Friedman
Henry Friedman
Pearl Friedman
Joseph Gajda
Clara Gertz
Helen Glaser
Mike Gluck
Martin Goldberg
Etka Goldenberg
Steve Goldin
Ilona Goldman
Erna Gorman
Leon Greenbaum
Anna Greenberger
Genia Greener
Isaac Greener
Sara Greenfield
Paula Gringlas
Sol Gringlas
Emery Grosinger
Aron Gross
Lena Gross
Rachel Growe
Wolf Gruca
Jack Gun
Sam (Anzel) Gun
Fryda Gurwitz
Joseph Haberkorn
Ilona Havas
Agnes Helfman
Frances Herman
Toby Hersen
Hermina Hirsch
Abraham Holcman
Motek Holcman
Ella Hornung
Sam Hornung
Franka Iglewicz
Regina Jablonka
Harry Jubas
Mike Judikovic
Hela Jutkiewicz
David Kahan
Helen Kain
Fred Kandel
Barry Kaplan
Garry Kappy
Alex Karp
Livia Katan
Benjamin Kawer
Ruth Kent
Magda Kessler
Ruth Kirshbaum
Adam Kirszenbaum
Zelda Klaiman
Anna Klein
Frida Klein
Viola Klein
Bernard Klisman
Martin Koby
Robert Koby
Zalman (Zoli) Kohen
Phyllis Kolnierz
Helen Kosuch
Edith Kozlowski
Marvin Kozlowski
Max Kozlowski
Paul Kreisman
Sarah Kreisman
Alexander Kuhn
Nathan Lachman
Israel Landa
Aron Lankin
Marcus Last
Paula Last
Helena Lebovic
Mayer Lebovic
Felicia Lefkowitz
Anna Lengel
Miriam Lengel
Michael Lerman
Manuel Levi
Henry Lewin
Bendet Lewkowicz
Esther Lewkowicz
Lili Lewkowicz
Jack Lipton
Thomas Lugosi
Esfir Lupyan
Eva Mames
Eby Mann
Brenda Marczak
Moniek Margulies
Martin Marks
Ira Mechlowitz
Moniek Milberger
Ester Moncznik
Bernard Mond
Jenny Mosseri
Regina Muskovitz
Joachim Nachbar
Diane Neuman
Nathan Nothman
Sonia Nothman
Sam Offen
George Ohrenstein
Anna Oliwek
Steve Oliwek
Herman Opatowski
Thomas Pallos
Harold Perlman
Sylvia Perlman
Harold Perlstein
Gloria Pesis
Irene Petrinitz
Rose Pilcowitz
Ted Pilcowitz
Lola Pines
Max Pines
Helga Plonskier
Esther Posner
Phyllis Potach
Samuel Pruchno
Saul Raimi
Jan Rival
Helen Rosenberg
Yetti Rosenthal
Nathan Rostker
Edith Roth
Hershel Roth
Morris Rubenstein
Helen Solarz Sadik
Nathan Sadik
Mania Salinger
Jane Salzberg
Aviva Sandler
Kathy Sattler
Rosa Schaumberg
David Scherman
Dezso Schonberger
Lola Schonberger
Irene Schwartz
Margaret Schwartz
Margit Schwartz
Simon Schwartzberg
Sam Seltzer
Sam Seltzer
Martin Shlanger
Felicia Shloss
Roman Shloss
Sara Silow
Brandla Small
Samuel Small
Irene Snitchler
Max Solarz
Beatrice Sonders
William Sperber
Erna Staub
Ida Steuer
Joseph Steuer
Vivian Stollman
Fela Szymkowicz
Esther Tabachnik
Simon Tabachnik
Emanuel Tanay
Lola Taubman
Sala Teitelman
Magdalene Thirman
Marcel Thirman
Arnold Troostwijk
Harry Tuchklaper
Sally Tuchklaper
Morris Tugman
Alex Unger
George Vine
Julian Wagner
Rose Wagner
Melanie Wallis
Martin Water
Sabina Water
Jack Wayne
Larry Wayne
Zita Weber
Abraham Weberman
Sima Yarsike Weberman
Jack Weinberger
Sam Weinberger
Sarah Weinberger
Harry Weinstein
Abraham Weintraub
Clara Weis
Elena Weiss
Elizabeth Weiss
Erna Weiss
Eva Weiss
Lilly Weiss
Michael Weiss
Shari Weiss
Eva Wimmer
Shoshana Winkler
Sol Winkler
Abram Winogron
Rose Winogron
Leon Wizenberg
Rella Wizenberg
Lillian Wohl
Paul Worona
Sarah York
Bella Zarnowiecki
David Zauder
Pola Zawierucha
Sender Zawierucha
Berl Zicherman
Aron Zoldan
Harold Zuker
Aron Zygelman

“The term "ghetto" originated from the name of the Jewish quarter in Venice, established in 1516, in which the Venetian authorities compelled the city's Jews to live. Various authorities, ranging from local municipal authorities to the Austrian Emperor Charles V, ordered the creation of other ghettos for Jews in Frankfurt, Rome, Prague, and other cities in the 16th and 17th centuries.

“During World War II, ghettos were city districts (often enclosed) in which the Germans concentrated the municipal and sometimes regional Jewish population and forced them to live under miserable conditions. Ghettos isolated Jews by separating Jewish communities from the non-Jewish population and from other Jewish communities. The Germans established at least 1,000 ghettos in German-occupied and annexed Poland and the Soviet Union alone. German occupation authorities established the first ghetto in Poland in Piotrków Trybunalski in October 1939.

“The Germans regarded the establishment of ghettos as a provisional measure to control and segregate Jews while the Nazi leadership in Berlin deliberated upon options to realize the goal of removing the Jewish population. In many places ghettoization lasted a relatively short time. Some ghettos existed for only a few days, others for months or years. With the implementation of the "Final Solution" (the plan to murder all European Jews) beginning in late 1941, the Germans systematically destroyed the ghettos. The Germans and their auxiliaries either shot ghetto residents in mass graves located nearby or deported them, usually by train, to killing centers where they were murdered. German SS and police authorities deported a small minority of Jews from ghettos to forced-labor camps and concentration camps.

“There were three types of ghettos: closed ghettos, open ghettos, and destruction ghettos.

The largest ghetto in Poland was the Warsaw ghetto, where over 400,000 Jews were crowded into an area of 1.3 square miles. Other major ghettos were established in the cities of Lodz, Krakow, Bialystok, Lvov, Lublin, Vilna, Kovno, Czestochowa, and Minsk. Tens of thousands of western European Jews were also deported to ghettos in the east.

“The Germans ordered Jews residing in ghettos to wear identifying badges or armbands and also required many Jews to perform forced labor for the German Reich. Daily life in the ghettos was administered by Nazi-appointed Jewish councils(Judenraete). A ghetto police force enforced the orders of the German authorities and the ordinances of the Jewish councils, including the facilitation of deportations to killing centers. Jewish police officials, like Jewish council members, served at the whim of the German authorities. The Germans did not hesitate to kill Jewish policemen who were perceived to have failed to carry out orders.

“Jews responded to the ghetto restrictions with a variety of resistance efforts. Ghetto residents frequently engaged in so-called illegal activities, such as smuggling food, medicine, weapons or intelligence across the ghetto walls, often without the knowledge or approval of the Jewish councils. Some Jewish councils and some individual council members tolerated or encouraged the illicit trade because the goods were necessary to keep ghetto residents alive. Although the Germans generally demonstrated little concern in principle about religious worship, attendance at cultural events, or participation in youth movements inside the ghetto walls, they often perceived a “security threat” in any social gathering and would move ruthlessly to incarcerate or kill perceived ringleaders and participants. The Germans generally forbade any form of consistent schooling or education.

“In some ghettos, members of Jewish resistance movements staged armed uprisings. The largest of these was the Warsaw ghetto uprising in spring 1943. There were also violent revolts in Vilna, Bialystok, Czestochowa, and several smaller ghettos. In August 1944, German SS and police completed the destruction of the last major ghetto, in Lodz.

“In Hungary, ghettoization did not begin until the spring of 1944, after the Germans invaded and occupied the country. In less than three months, the Hungarian gendarmerie, in coordination with German deportation experts from the Reich Main Office for Security (Reichssicherheitshauptamt-RSHA), concentrated nearly 440,000 Jews from all over Hungary, except for the capital city, Budapest, in short-term “destruction ghettos” and deported them into German custody at the Hungarian border. The Germans deported most of the Hungarian Jews to the Auschwitz-Birkenau killing center. In Budapest, Hungarian authorities required the Jews to confine themselves to marked houses (so-called Star of David houses). 

“A few weeks after the leaders of the fascist Arrow Cross movement seized power in a German-sponsored coup on October 15, 1944, the Arrow Cross government formally established a ghetto in Budapest, in which about 63,000 Jews lived in a 0.1 square mile area. Approximately 25,000 Jews who carried certificates that they stood under the protection of a neutral power were confined in an "international ghetto" at another location in the city. In January 1945, Soviet forces liberated that part of Budapest in which the two ghettos were, respectively, located and liberated the nearly 90,000 Jewish residents.

“During the Holocaust, ghettos were a central step in the Nazi process of control, dehumanization, and mass murder of the Jews.”


A sign, in both German and Latvian, warning that people attempting to cross the fence or to contact inhabitants of the Riga ghetto will be shot. Riga, Latvia, 1941-1943.


— United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

Accessed on July 21, 2011
 


Deportation of Jews from Hanau, near Frankfurt am Main, to the Theresienstadt ghetto. Hanau, Germany, May 30, 1942.


— United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

Accessed on July 21, 2011
 


Arrival of a transport of Dutch Jews in the Theresienstadt ghetto. Czechoslovakia, February 1944.


— United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

Accessed on July 21, 2011
 


Child forced laborer in a ghetto factory. Kovno, Lithuania, between 1941 and 1944.


  • United States Holocaust Memorial Museum


Accessed on July 21, 2011




 
 
 

Children eating in the ghetto streets. Warsaw, Poland, between 1940 and 1943.

  • United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
Accessed on July 21, 2011
 


An emaciated child eats in the streets of the Warsaw ghetto. Warsaw, Poland, between 1940 and 1943.


  • United States Holocaust Memorial Museum


Accessed on July 21, 2011



Deportation of Jewish children from the Lodz ghetto, Poland, during the "Gehsperre" Aktion, September 1942.


— USHMM, courtesy of Jacob Igra


Accessed on July 21, 2011


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