On July 13, the Sejm, Poland’s parliament, established September 10 as the National Day of Polish Children of War, “as a tribute to the Polish Children of War who, despite the trauma they experienced due to the sacrifices of World War II, the criminal actions of the German and Soviet invaders, were able to lift our Homeland from ruins; and as a token of respect and gratitude for their efforts.”
The vote session was attended by 451 MPs, of whom 448 were in favor, three abstained, and none were against.
Piotr Maj Ph.D., the Director of the Museum of Polish Children provided the historical context: “September 10, 1943 saw the climax of the arrests of children from Mosina (a town about 20 km south of Poznań). The Germans did not stop at arresting adults. The invaders decided to punish the Polish patriots by kidnapping children and imprisoning them in German camps. Many of them ended up in the “hell on earth” that was the German concentration camp on Przemyslowa Street in Lodz. This date may enter a series of September commemorations recalling tragic events related to World War II. As the Museum, we suggested this date and it was accepted by the Polish Children of War community.”
According to Lodz-ghetto.com, in December 1942, a camp for Polish children and youth was established in a separate area within the confines of the Lodz ghetto, that was often referred to as “The Camp on Przemyslowa Street.” The Main Security Office of the Reich issued a statement on November 28, 1942, explaining it would be a camp for adolescent Poles deemed criminals or neglected “who, therefore, are a dangerous element both for the German children because they could continue their criminal activity.”
The concentration camp appeared from the outside to be an educational facility to rehabilitate juvenile offenders. In reality, the young inmates had numbers instead of names, wore grey prison garbs and clogs, and worked from morning to night, enduring routine beatings and flogging.
The camp area was surrounded by a high fence made up of planks and patrolled by German sentries.
The Lodz youth camp was divided into boys’ and girls’ sections. The boys’ section, which covered about 75% percent of the camp’s area, included 35 buildings and barracks, 10 of which served as dormitories. The girls’ section took up the rest of the area. Small children were housed in a one-story brick building. Baby criminals?
The camp’s crucial part was its extension in the town of Dzierżązna, roughly 15 km from Lodz, which served as a training center for young girls, preparing them to become slave laborers for German farmers. The extension camp provided the food supplies for the Lodz camp. Adult Polish farmers also worked there as forced laborers.
President Andrzej Duda’s office reminded the public that “under the German occupation, about 6 million Polish people died, including about 3 million citizens of Jewish nationality and about 3 million of Polish nationality. 2.2 million children died then, including one million children. Several hundred thousand were physically and mentally mutilated by the German occupiers, and nearly 1.6 million children were orphaned.”