Lodz Ghetto - 60 Years Later
A tourist who walks through the district of
Baluty and sees a lot of high concrete blocks of flats among green
meadows and trees can hardly imagine that a huge ghetto once
existed here and what kind of tragedy played here every day. Also the
thousands of mostly young families living in these houses do not know
and do not care much about this. Sixty years after the liquidation of
the last large ghetto in occupied Poland, Ghetto Litzmannstadt, faces
its festive commemoration in Lodz in August 2004. This would be
probably the last celebration with invited last survivors who are now
between 70 and 80 years old. Local authorities with the mayor Mr.
Jerzy Kropiwnicki try to present their city as a place of dignity and
to explain to Lodz inhabitants what really happened in the
past. They attempt to erase anti-Semitic feelings similar to an
action of rubbing out anti-Semitic slogans which appeared an walls a couple of years ago. To pay
respect to the Jewish victims and not to make any false steps as it
was done sometimes before, a special coordinator, Mr. Czeslaw Bielecki,
was hired to help to find proper solutions for many arousing problems.
Like languages on plaques prepared to unveiled in many places of the
city. At the
beginning the information was in Polish, Hebrew, English and German.
After heavy protests of many Jews, Yiddish should now substitute
The Jewish population of Lodz 1939 was about 250 thousands, one third
of the city. The ghetto was established in February 1940 on the area of four square kilometers. About 164 thousands Jews were enclosed
there, not only from Lodz, but from all surrounding towns as well as from
Germany, Austria and Prague. The president of the Judenrat, Chaim
Mordechaj Rumkowski, was a very controversial figure. He cooperated
with the Nazis even by making personally deportation lists of
thousands Jews. One can speculate about his moral responsibility in
deportation of thousands Jewish children, orphans, the elderly and
the sick persons. He had an idea that the cooperation helped to
survive at least some of the adult Ghetto inhabitants. As a fact, the
Lodz ghetto belonged to last ones and was liquidated 1944 as the
Soviet Army already crossed Polish borders.
The Soviet Army came into a distance of 120 km away from Lodz but decided not to move
further for some strategic reasons. The last transport left ghetto on
August 29th. It counted 76,701 Jews. Chaim Rumkowski and his entire
family were also among them, traveling however in a luxurious wagon
the Nazis. They all were sent to Auschwitz. When German soldiers
finally left Lodz in January 1945, in the ghetto were 830 Jews who
worked in a sanitary pertaining brigade. Actually over 10 thousands
people survived the martyr. As there was not enough time, the
majority of buildings survived but fell to ruin and devastation
quite soon as there was no owners and nobody who paid attention to
them. A lot of
personal remembering which also were found, are now
exhibited in the Yad Vashem museum.
The Lodz ghetto belonged to those of best
Almost all deportations lists survived, a lot of photographs (a big
collection of them were recently found in a Viennese antique shop
and a famous movie was made out of this story).
Today 350 persons are registered in a Jewish
Community of Lodz. There is a synagogue in 28, Rewoulcji 1905 Street
(second courtyard) and a huge Jewish cemetery, the biggest ever
still functioning. It stays under protection and administration of
the Lauder Foundation, like many other remained Jewish relicts in
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