The name “Ghetto” refers to city districts that were most often confined; isolating Jews and other victims of the Germans during World War II.
Originally, “Ghetto” came from the Jewish quarter in Venice, which was recognized in 1516.
Jews were separated into these Jewish communities that segregated the Jews from the non-Jews. According to the Germans, it was only for the safety for themselves.
In order to recognize Jews easier, all Jews over the age of ten were required to wear armbands or patches with the star of David sewn or patched on their chest or back.
This allowed the Nazi’s to round all of their victims up and take them to the ghettos, later known as prisons, faster and more efficiently.
What if you were living in the Ghetto?
It is wondered what the experiences faced were like while being in a Ghetto or death camp. Although, the horrors could never be described. Several families occupied each apartment and overcrowding was extremely common. A very little amount of food was offered to be purchased, since the Nazi’s intentionally were trying to murder the residents. Only bread, potatoes, and fat were accessible. People were always hungry and often children became orphaned and had to take care of themselves along with any younger siblings. Proper clothes were lacked and heating fuel was limited, so winters were brutal. Plumbing was very inefficient and human waste was thrown into the streets, which caused the area to be extremely unsanitary.
The Nazi’s Point of View
The Nazi’s considered the Jews to be natural carriers of all diseases, especially Typhus.
These excuses gave them the right to move the Jews away from the Polish population and into Jewish neighborhoods.
The Jews were thankful that they were going to be safe.
Little did they know they were headed to an experience of a life time.
Through all this torture there was still room for a smile…
The Physical Structure
Most of the larger cities closed the ghettos in with either stone or brick wall, wooden fences, or even barbed wire.
For once the victims stepped into the ghetto or death camp, there was no leaving. Otherwise if someone tried to escape there was a death penalty.
The Warsaw ghetto had a wall ten feet high topped with barbed wire at the top.
A Taste of Madness
356 ghettos in Poland, the Soviet Union, the Baltic States, Czechoslovakia, Romania, and Hungary were established by the Nazi’s between the years 1935 and 1940.
Warsaw, the largest ghetto, existed of about half a million people, and Lódz, the second largest ghetto, had 160,000 people.
On the other hand, the smallest ghetto only held 3,000 hostages.
All through out Poland, ghettos existed in all of the following cities:
Bialystok, Czestochowa, Kielce, Kraków, Lublin, Lvóv, Radom, and Vilna.
Warsaw Ghetto Facts
The Warsaw ghetto was the largest ghetto with about half a million people held there.
Warsaw was established on October 2, 1940.
Jews were forced to work in a metal shop under terrible conditions along with other tiring jobs.
Only 300 calories of food were offered daily by carrying your ration card. (see next slide)
The food and water was unsanitary.
While overcrowding, rampant diseases, and starvation were also many troubles.
To help families with money, children were found selling books on the streets.
Only 113,000 poles were evacuated from this area in order to create The Warsaw Ghetto.
This is the Warsaw Ghetto ration card that entitled the holder to 300 calories of food daily.
Jewish councils carried out the Nazi’s orders and ran the ghettos. These man were Judenrats.
The Jews were clueless of the Nazi’s plan and began to think they were doing this to starve the people to death or kill them off with plagues.
Despite the madness that took place Torah studies, circumcision, Shabbos and holidays still occurred.