Polish Ghettoes

Polish Ghettoes

During World War War Two, ghettos were set up in Nazi-occupied cities to separate Jews from the rest of the population. Jews, and other people concerned subhuman by the Nazis - those known as the untermenschen - were made to live in special ghettos, commonly in terrible conditions. The best known of the Polish ghettos in were those found in Lodz, Bialystok and Warsaw.

The German army invaded Poland on 1 September 1939. Upon their arrival, the Nazi began to designate areas in large towns and cities as exclusively Jewish areas. Jews were forced to move into small areas that were surrounded by barbed wire and guarded to prevent anybody from leaving.

The conditions for those forced to live in the ghettos were appalling - they were overcrowded and food was in short supply. Moreover, in the ghetto in Lodz, the Nazis set up workshops so that they could trade the military equipment and uniforms they manufactured for food and medical supplies. Chaim Rumkowski held the role as the head of the Council of Elders in Lodz. He has has often come under fire for the way he collaborated with the Nazis in organising such schemes, as well as for showing favouritism to those he knew and for abusing his power.

Overcrowding and starvation led to the spread of disease. In Warsaw, 30 per cent of the city population was forced to live in 2.4 per cent of the city's area, a density of 7.2 people per room. Smuggling food into the ghetto was extremely dangerous, but in the Warsaw Ghetto small children, who were harder to detect due to their size, would secretly sneak out of the ghetto under the cover of night, they would then find food and stake it back to the ghetto. However, those caught doing so faced severe punishment - some would be shot then and there by guards patrolling the edge of the ghetto.

In the Warsaw and Lodz ghettos, resistance groups staged uprisings. The Warsaw Ghetto Uprising occurred in 1943, when Nazi troops entered the ghetto to deport its remaining inhabitants. Each of these poorly supplied resistance in the Warsaw Ghetto was defeated by German forces.

MLA Citation/Reference

"Polish Ghettoes". HistoryLearning.com. 2024. Web.