Litzmannstadt (Łódź) Ghetto:

A Lost Struggle for Survival

Carpenter’s workshop, spring 1942.

The photos of the workshops were intended to give proof of the efficiency of the production at Ghetto Litzmannstadt. However, some of the pictures clearly reveal the poor state of health of the ghetto inmates.

Photo: Mendel Grosman / Henryk Ross; Source: Archiwum Państwowe w Łodzi (Przełożony Starszeństwa Żydów w Getcie Łódzkim 1115, 63_2113_8)

Shoemaker’s workshop, 1942.

The ghetto’s production was important to the war effort. Children ten years and older could be taken on as apprentices and thus be protected for some time from deportation to extermination camps.

Photo: Mendel Grosman / Henryk Ross; Source: Archiwum Państwowe w Łodzi (Przełożony Starszeństwa Żydów w Getcie Łódzkim 1110, 54_1808_03)

Food distribution, 1942.

Even though the workshops of Ghetto Litzmannstadt worked for the Wehrmacht, the Germans did not supply the ghetto with sufficient food. Even after the introduction of public kitchens, people died of hunger every day.

Photo: Mendel Grosman / Henryk Ross; Source: Archiwum Państwowe w Łodzi (Przełożony Starszeństwa Żydów w Getcie Łódzkim 1117, 19_556_9)

Album of the Textile Department at Litzmannstadt Ghetto, 1942.

Source: Zbiór ikonograficzny Archiwum Państwowego w Łodzi (1866-1970 A 264)

Album of the Textile Department at Litzmannstadt Ghetto, 1942.

Source: Zbiór ikonograficzny Archiwum Państwowego w Łodzi (1866-1970 A 264)

Album of the Textile Department at Litzmannstadt Ghetto, 1942.

List of textiles produced for the Reichsarbeitsdienst (Reich Labor Service).

Source: Zbiór ikonograficzny Archiwum Państwowego w Łodzi (1866-1970 A 264)

Ilona Winograd (left) in the Ghetto, ca. 1943.

Ilona Winograd was one of the 226 children that had not been deported, because her parents worked for the ghetto administration. Ilona and her parents survived.

Source: Ilona Barkal Winograd / United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, Washington

“Gehsperre” name tag, September 1942.

During the “Gehsperre” children under ten years of age had to wear a sign bearing their name and date of birth.

Source: Ilona Barkal Winograd / United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, Washington

Litzmannstadt (Łódź) Ghetto: A Lost Struggle for Survival

In the ghetto workshops, women, men and children labored to the point of total exhaustion. These workshops had been set up by Chaim Rumkowski, who had been appointed by the Germans as head of the Jewish administration. In an effort to save at least some of the ghetto inhabitants, he attempted to render the workshop laborers indispensable to the Germans by having them fulfill orders for the Wehrmacht.

The German ghetto administration, however, supplied too little food. As a result, one quarter of the 200,000 people in Litzmannstadt Ghetto died of hunger and disease. The SS moreover had the ill, children under ten and old people – all classified as “unable to work” – taken to the Kulmhof (Chełmno) extermination camp. In the summer of 1944, Himmler, the chief of the SS, ordered the deportation of the remaining ghetto inhabitants to Auschwitz, sealing the failure of the strategy of survival through work.

Deportations to the Kulmhof extermination camp

Ghetto inmates feared “evacuation,“ because word had spread that this really meant deportation to an extermination camp.

During the largest deportation, the “Gehsperre,“ in September 1942, ghetto inhabitants were not allowed to leave their apartments for several days. Children under ten years of age had to wear a sign bearing their name and date of birth. 20,000 people, among them all the children, were deemed “unable to work.”

Between 1942 and 1944, the SS murdered nearly 78,000 Jews and more than 3,000 Sinti and Roma from Litzmannstadt Ghetto there.

Audio

Fela M. talked about the deportation of her two-year-old daughter. Interview from 1992.

Source: Fortunoff Video Archive for Holocaust Testimonies, Yale University Library

Ghetto physician Arnold M. relayed how ghetto inmates feared going to the doctor, because ill persons were known to be deported. Interview from 1994.

Source: Fortunoff Video Archive for Holocaust Testimonies, Yale University Library