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January 20, 2017 / 22 Tevet, 5777
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Commemorating Liquidation Of The Lodz (Litzmannstadt) Ghetto

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     In September 1939 the Germans started establishing ghettos in the occupied territory of Poland. Ghettos played an important role in the Jewish extermination policy. They were filled with Polish and Western European Jewish deportees. The ghettos differed in times of existence, size, internal organization, and living conditions. The Germans called them ” death boxes” (Todeskiste). The city of Lodz belonged to the Wartheland District and the Germans changed its name into Litzmannstadt.


     The Lodz Ghetto was one of the largest on Polish territory (second to the Warsaw Ghetto). Established in February 1939 and liquidated in August 1944, it lasted longer than the other ghettos. Approximately 200,000 men, women and children were imprisoned in the Lodz ghetto throughout its existence.


     The organization of the Lodz Ghetto became a role model for the Warsaw Ghetto and other ghettos. In 1941 the Germans began deporting Jews from Prague, Vienna, Luxembourg, Berlin, Düsseldorf, Emden, Frankfurt, Hamburg and Cologne into the Lodz Ghetto. Within one month 19,954 Jews from Western Europe were deported and in few next months the Germans transported another 18,000 Jews from liquidated provincial ghettos.


    According to the German policy only Jews capable of work could stay in the ghetto. Those who were not able to work were sent to the death camp in Chelmno where the Germans killed 80 000 Jews.


    On August 9, 1944 the first transport from Lodz to Auschwitz took place. Deportees were informed that they were going deep into the Third Reich. In reality they were sent straight into the gas chambers in Auschwitz-Birkenau. Until August 9, 1944 the Germans had deported 67,000 Lodz Ghetto inhabitants. It is estimated that when the Nazis liquidated the ghetto, there were only 12-15,000 inhabitants. After the liquidation, only 800 Jews were left for cleaning. Most of those survived. 


      This coming week the city of Lodz is holding a weeklong conference in memory of the victims of the Ghetto.


       The conference will include many well-known speakers, feature films, new exhibits, and concerts as well as the unveiling of new monuments at the Survivors Park, dedicated to survivors and those that helped them survive.

Shmuel Ben Eliezer

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