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Lodz Ghetto

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  • Liat:

    Great job on this presentation! It was very forthright and informative.

    I thought that the excerpt from Rumkowski's speech was very disturbing and brought up a number of questions for me. I think the role of Rumkowski somewhat relates to the SK units we were watching in 'The Grey Zone', both dwell in sort of a moral gray area. Rumkowski's speech, for me, is not necessarily anomalous because of what it says (because the requirements that the speech stipulated were relatively common from the Nazis at that time) but because the fact that Rumkowski is saying it, and just by reading the quote itself I can't observe any of the emotional nuances which came out of Rumkowski when he was giving his speech. But just going by the text you can almost imagine the despair of someone trying to please two masters, so to speak. The Nazis are asking him to betray the very community he leads, and he is trying to do it as best he can, although in the end his own fate is no different and his integrity ends up being questioned.

    A disturbing anecdote indeed, albeit an intriguing and important one.
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  • While you are using basic terminology, the words 'sealed' the ghetto and 'enclosed' the Jews are so powerful. I feel like they speak a lot to dehumanization.

    The weather report is particularly striking and rather metaphorical. 'Ten degrees below zero. No wind. Sunny.' Part of seeing the physical setting of the concentration camps is that the beautiful scenery is juxtaposed with the stark horrors of what took place. And the frigid temperature accompanied by the stillness and the sun seems to instill this same image in my mind of the ghetto.

    I also find it chilling that they rank the killing diseases such that they can say that tuberculosis was in 'third place.'

    Again, I find the will and determination of the youth so empowering and inspiring. It's nice that they looked to the sky of Israel as the hope.

    It's interesting that the Nazis appointed an elder of the Jews to lead the Jewish people. They realize that it's most effective to have an intermediary. After all, the Jews are more likely to trust a fellow Jew than a Nazi. And he clearly tried to keep the best interests of his people in mind as he made his actions. We see this pattern a lot in genocide, as the perpetrators attempt to turn their victims against each other.

    Thanks---this was both straightforward and thought-provoking. Really tactful.
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  • Hey Liat!

    Great work on this presentation. I loved all the excerpts that you found from primary sources... the Lodz Chronicle, the quote from the girl in the secret society, the diary excerpt, and of course Rumkowski's speech.

    God, what a speech. I think it proves that under the system the Nazis set up, there were almost no good choices to be made... Rumkowski did what he did because he was trying to save at least some of his people, but in the end he was vilified for knowingly sending the most vulnerable people in his community to their deaths. In the same position, another Judenrat leader committed suicide. Is either action the right one, the good thing to do? Or had the Nazis effectively taken away all moral choices?
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  • First of all, this is a great presentation, Liat!

    The color photograph on slide 8 really strikes me. This is, I think, the first color photo of a scene from the Holocaust that I've ever seen. The children, finally, look so real.

    And the excerpt of Rumkowski's 'Give me your children!' speech IS chilling. I understand what you meann by the controversy over whether he did good/bad things for the Jews...His fate really is something to think about. In the end, he was treated no differently by the Nazis; however, the Jews treated him as a Nazi...Was he truly 'guilty' of anything, though? Even if he had committed suicide, or refused to take up his position, wouldn't someone else have to play the role of Nazi puppet? Was he just trying to make others understand their fate? Was he blamed for more evils than he had committed?

    Really, really interesting.

    Again, this presentation was super-easy to follow, very professional, very interesting. Thanks, Liat!
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Transcript

  • 1. The Łódź Ghetto Liat Litwin
  • 2.
    • Before the war Lodz had the 2 nd largest Jewish population (233,000) after Warsaw.
    • In September of 1939, the Germans invaded Poland. However, it took until May 1, 1940 (8 months after the German invasion) to seal the ghetto, enclosing 164,000 Jews.
  • 3. Life in the Ghetto
    • In the ghetto, the Jews faced horrible conditions.
    • The old buildings had no plumbing, there was chronic shortages of food, inadequate clean water, and scarce fuel
    • 8-10 people would have to crowd into one room
    • Thousands died from disease, starvation, and malnutrition.
  • 4. The Chronicle of the Lodz Ghetto
    • The Chronicle of the Lodz Ghetto recorded the daily happenings of the people living in the Lodz Ghetto.
    • The Chronicle provides an insight into the would-be forgotten events of the ghetto.
    • The idea of the chronicle was born to provide more jobs and therefore more food rationings to the Jews.
    • Every day, the weather, births and deaths, and other important events were chronicled.
  • 5. The Chronicle of the Lodz Ghetto Saturday, January 12, 1941 WEATHER Ten degrees below zero. No wind. Sunny. DEATHS AND BIRTHS Today 52 people died in the ghetto. The principal cause of death was heart disease, followed by exhaustion from hunger and cold, with tuberculosis in third place. Fourteen births were registered (seven boys and seven girls)
  • 6. Life in the Ghetto
    • The youth in the Lodz ghetto, despite the difficult conditions, maintained many organizations and societies to continue observing Judaism.
      • Pe Kadosh ( sacred mouth) was an organization attempting to continue to keep Kosher despite the dreadful hunger in the ghetto.
      • Shomrei Mezuzot ( keeper of the doorways) attempted to put mezuzot on all doorways in the the ghetto
  • 7. Life in the Ghetto
    • Other youth in the ghetto established political and cultural groups.
    • Public lectures, poetry readings, and musical performances, including performances by and for children, also provided relief from the hunger and poverty
    “ It was forbidden to gather more than three or five people. It was punishable by death, but we were sometimes even fifteen teenagers, and we were then in Palestine for this hour with the organization. This was the land of Israel; we were not in the ghetto. I never had such marvelous hours. I ran to my organization and there I forgot. The life was different there. There, I saw the blue sky with stars. The sky of the land of Israel.” -Jutta Szmirgeld, age 14
  • 8. Notice anything different about this photo…? Unlike most photos of the Holocaust, this one is in color. Walter Genewein , the Nazi’s chief accountant, had found a camera and ordered color film “for official purposes”. His photos disappeared for a while, but where found in a Vienna bookstore in 1987
  • 9. Mordechai Chaim Rumkowski
    • Rumkowski, at age 62, was randomly chosen by the Nazis to be Judenälteste ( Elder of the Jews )
    • He implemented the orders made by the Nazi’s and acted as a governor or leader of the ghetto.
  • 10. Mordechai Chaim Rumkowski
    • Rumkowski is one of the most controversial figures in the history of the Holocaust
    • Adam Czerniaków, the head of the Judenrat of Warsaw, took his own life, while Rumkowski insisted on keeping his difficult position.
    • He worked hard to keep the people of the ghetto working, hoping that their industrialization would save them
    • His main goal was to make the Jewish labor in the Lodz ghetto essential to the Germans.
  • 11. Mordechai Chaim Rumkowski
    • However, Rumkowski had a different reputation inside the ghetto;
      • “ They say Rumkowski is a quarrelsome man, difficult to get along with… he likes to hear himself speak and often interrupts others.”
          • Lucille Eichengreen, author of Rumkowski and the Orhpans of Lodz
      • “ The sadist-moron Rumkowski is doing horrible things.”
          • From the Diary of Dawid Sierokawiak on Sunday, June 15 1941
  • 12. “ Give me your Children!”
    • Rumkowski gave one of his most chilling speeches on September 4, 1942.
    • He was given the task to tell the people of Lodz that 25,000 Jews under the age of 10, and over 65 must be resettled out of the ghetto.
    • An excerpt of his speech follows.
  • 13. “ In my old age, I must stretch out my hands and beg: Brothers and sisters! Hand them over to me! Fathers and mothers: Give me your children! “ Yesterday afternoon, they gave me the order to send more than 20,000 Jews out of the ghetto… I must perform this difficult and bloody operation - I must cut off limbs in order to save the body itself. I must take children because, if not, others may be taken as well. “ There are, in the ghetto, many patients who can expect to live only a few days more, maybe a few weeks. I don't know if the idea is diabolical or not, but I must say it: Give me the sick. In their place we can save the healthy... Each of us feeds the sick at the expense of our own health: we give our bread to the sick. We give them our meager ration of sugar, our little piece of meat. And what's the result? Not enough to cure the sick, and we ourselves become ill. Of course, such sacrifices are the most beautiful and noble. But there are times when one has to choose: sacrifice the sick, who haven't the slightest chance of recovery and who also may make others ill, or rescue the healthy.”
  • 14. Deportations
    • Starting January 16 th , 1942, deportations from Lodz to Chelmno, the nearby concentration camp, began.
    • Until September, there were regular deportations
      • over 36,000 people were killed in Chelmno.
    • In the summer of 1944, the final destruction of the Lodz ghetto was initiated and 65,000 were deported to Auschwitz.
  • 15. Rumkowski’s End
    • Rumkowski was on the last of those deportations to Auschwitz.
    • It is speculated that he was either killed by the Jews of Lodz in the train on the way to Auschwitz or went directly to the gas chambers upon arriving in Auschwitz.
  • 16. Bibliography
    • Voices from the Lodz Ghetto.&quot; United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. <http://www.ushmm.org/museum/exhibit/online/lodz/video/>.
    • Lodz | 1939 - 1945 timeline.&quot; United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. 09 Feb. 2009 <http://www.ushmm.org/wlc/media_cm.php?lang=eng&moduleid=10005071&mediaid=1589>
    • Horwitz, Gordon J. Ghettostadt : Lódz and the making of a Nazi city. Cambridge, Mass. : The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2008.
    • Eichengreen, Lucille, et al. Rumkowski and the orphans of Lodz. San Francisco, CA : Mercury House, 1999.
    • The Chronicle of Lodz ghetto 1941-1944. New Haven : Yale Univ. Press, c1984.
    • Lodz ghetto : inside a community under siege. New York, N.Y., U.S.A. : Viking, 1989.
    • Sierakowiak, Dawid, et al. The diary of Dawid Sierakowiak : five notebooks from the Lodz ghetto. New York : Oxford University Press, 1996.
    • Trunk, Isaiah, et al. Lodz Ghetto : a history. Bloomington, Ind. : Indiana University Press, c2006.

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