Beginning with the invasion of Poland during World War II, the regime of Nazi Germany set up ghettos across occupied Europe in order to segregate and confine Jews, and sometimes Romani people, into small sections of towns and cities furthering their exploitation. In German documents, and signage at ghetto entrances, the Nazis usually referred to them as Jüdischer Wohnbezirk or Wohngebiet der Juden, both of which translate as the Jewish Quarter. There were several distinct types including open ghettos, closed ghettos, work, transit, and destruction ghettos, as defined by the Holocaust historians. In a number of cases, they were the place of Jewish underground resistance against the German occupation, known collectively as the ghetto uprisings.
|Ghettos in German-occupied Europe|
|Also known as||Jüdischer Wohnbezirk in German|
|Incident type||Total of more than 1,000 ghettos created mostly in Central and Eastern Europe|
|Perpetrators||Schutzstaffel (SS), Orpo|
The first anti-Jewish measures were enacted in Germany with the onset of Nazism, without the actual ghettoization planning for the German Jews which was rejected in the post-Kristallnacht period. However, soon after the 1939 German invasion of Poland, the Nazis began to designate areas of larger Polish cities and towns as exclusively Jewish, and within weeks, embarked on a massive programme of uprooting Polish Jews from their homes and businesses through forcible expulsions. The entire Jewish communities were deported into these closed off zones by train from their places of origin systematically, using Orpo battalions, first in the Reichsgaue, and then throughout the Generalgouvernement territory.
The first ghetto of World War II was established on 8 October 1939 at Piotrków Trybunalski (38 days after the invasion), with the Tuliszków ghetto established in December 1939. The first large metropolitan ghetto known as the Łódź Ghetto (Litzmannstadt) followed them in April 1940, and the Warsaw Ghetto in October. Most Jewish ghettos were established in 1940 and 1941. Subsequently, many ghettos were sealed from the outside, walled off with brickwork, or enclosed with barbed wire. In the case of sealed ghettos, any Jew found leaving there could be shot. The Warsaw Ghetto, located in the heart of the city, was the largest ghetto in Nazi occupied Europe, with over 400,000 Jews crammed into an area of 1.3 square miles (3.4 km2). The Łódź Ghetto was the second largest, holding about 160,000 people. According to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum archives, there were at least 1,000 such ghettos in German-occupied and annexed Poland and the Soviet Union alone.
Ghettos across Eastern Europe varied in their size, scope and living conditions. The conditions in the ghettos were generally brutal. In Warsaw, the Jews, comprising 30% of the city overall population, were forced to live in 2.4% of the city's area, a density of 7.2 people per room. In the ghetto of Odrzywół, 700 people lived in an area previously occupied by five families, between 12 and 30 to each room. The Jews were not allowed out of the ghetto, so they had to rely on smuggling and the starvation rations supplied by the Nazis: in Warsaw this was 253 calories (1,060 kJ) per Jew, compared to 669 calories (2,800 kJ) per Pole and 2,613 calories (10,940 kJ) per German. With the crowded living conditions, starvation diets, and insufficient sanitation (coupled with lack of medical supplies), epidemics of infectious disease became a major feature of ghetto life. In the Łódź Ghetto some 43,800 people died of 'natural' causes, 76,000 in the Warsaw Ghetto before July 1942.
To prevent unauthorised contact between the Jewish and non-Jewish populations, German Order Police formations were assigned to patrol the perimeter. Within each ghetto, a Jewish Police force was created to ensure that no prisoners tried to escape. In general terms, there were three types of ghettos maintained by the Nazi administration.
The parts of a city outside the walls of the Jewish Quarter were called "Aryan". For example, in Warsaw, the city was divided into Jewish, Polish, and German Quarters. Those living outside the ghetto had to have identification papers proving they were not Jewish (none of their grandparents was a member of the Jewish community), such as a baptism certificate. Such documents were sometimes called "Christian" or "Aryan papers". Poland's Catholic clergy massively forged baptism certificates, which were given to Jews by the dominant Polish resistance movement, the Home Army (Armia Krajowa, or AK). Any Pole found by the Germans to be giving any help to a Jew was subject to the death penalty.
In 1942, the Nazis began Operation Reinhard, the systematic deportation of Jews to extermination camps. Nazi authorities throughout Europe deported Jews to ghettos in Eastern Europe or most often directly to extermination camps built by Nazi Germany in occupied Poland. Almost 300,000 people were deported from the Warsaw Ghetto alone to Treblinka over the course of 52 days. In some ghettos, local resistance organizations staged ghetto uprisings. None were successful, and the Jewish populations of the ghettos were almost entirely killed. On June 21, 1943, Heinrich Himmler issued an order to liquidate all ghettos and transfer remaining Jewish inhabitants to concentration camps. A few ghettos were re-designated as concentration camps and existed until 1944.
Encyclopedia of Camps and Ghettos, 1933–1945 is a seven-part encyclopedia series that explores the history of the concentration camps, ghettos, forced-labor camps, and other sites of detention, persecution, or state-sponsored murder run by Nazi Germany and other Axis powers in Europe and Africa. The series is produced by the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum (USHMM) and published by Indiana University Press. Research began in 2000; the first volume was published in 2009; and the final volume is slated for publication in 2025. Along with entries on individual sites, the encyclopedias also contain scholarly overviews for historical context.
The project attracted media attention when its editors announced in 2013 that the series would cover more than 42,500 sites, eight times more than expected. The first two volumes in the series, covering the Nazi concentration camps and Nazi ghettos, received a positive response from both scholars and survivors. Multiple scholars have described the encyclopedias as the most comprehensive reference on their given subjects.Geoffrey P. Megargee
Geoffrey P. Megargee (born 1959) is an American historian and author who specialises in the World War II military history and the history of the Holocaust. He is currently Senior Applied Research Scholar at the Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and the Project Director and Editor-in-Chief for the Encyclopedia of Camps and Ghettos, 1933–1945. His work on the German High Command (the OKW) won the 2001 Distinguished Book Award from the Society for Military History. He has previously worked as a Research Associate of the U.S. Commission on National Security/21st Century and a Presidential Counselor for the National World War II Museum.Ghetto uprisings
The ghetto uprisings during World War II were a series of armed revolts against the regime of Nazi Germany between 1941 and 1943 in the newly established Jewish ghettos across Nazi-occupied Europe. Following the German and Soviet invasion of Poland in September 1939, Polish Jews were targeted from the outset. Within months inside occupied Poland, the Germans created hundreds of ghettos in which they forced the Jews to live. The new ghettos were part of the German official policy of removing Jews from public life with the aim of economic exploitation. The combination of excess numbers of inmates, unsanitary conditions and lack of food resulted in a high death rate among them. In most cities the Jewish underground resistance movements developed almost instantly, although ghettoization had severely limited their access to resources.The ghetto fighters took up arms during the most deadly phase of the Holocaust known as Operation Reinhard (launched in 1942), against the Nazi plans to deport all prisoners – men, women and children – to camps, with the aim of their mass extermination.History of the Jews in Moldova
The history of the Jews in Moldova reaches back several centuries. Bessarabian Jews have been living in the area for some time. Today, the Jewish community living in Moldova number less than 4,000 according to one estimate while local estimates put the number at 15-20,000 Jews and their family members.Jewish Ghetto Police
The Jewish Ghetto Police or Jewish Police Service (German: Jüdische Ghetto-Polizei or Jüdischer Ordnungsdienst), also called the Jewish Police by Jews, were auxiliary police units organized within the Nazi ghettos by local Judenrat (Jewish councils).Jewish ghettos in Europe
Jewish ghettos in Europe were neighborhoods of European cities in which Jews were permitted to live. In addition to being confined to the ghettos, Jews were placed under strict regulations as well as restrictions in many European cities. The character of ghettos fluctuated over the centuries. In some cases, they comprised a Jewish quarter, the area of a city traditionally inhabited by Jews. In many instances, ghettos were places of terrible poverty and during periods of population growth, ghettos had narrow streets and small, crowded houses. Residents had their own justice system. Around the ghetto stood walls that, during pogroms, were closed from inside to protect the community, but from the outside during Christmas, Pesach, and Easter Week to prevent the Jews from leaving at those times.
In the 19th century, with the coming of Jewish emancipation, Jewish ghettos were progressively abolished, and their walls taken down. However, in the course of World War II the Third Reich created a totally new Jewish ghetto-system for the purpose of persecution, terror, and exploitation of Jews, mostly in Eastern Europe. According to USHMM archives, "The Germans established at least 1,000 ghettos in German-occupied and annexed Poland and the Soviet Union alone."Jewish ghettos in German-occupied Poland
Jewish ghettos in German-occupied Poland were established during World War II in hundreds of locations across occupied Poland. Most Jewish ghettos had been created by Nazi Germany between October 1939 and July 1942 in order to confine and segregate Poland's Jewish population of about 3.5 million for the purpose of persecution, terror, and exploitation. In smaller towns, ghettos often served as staging points for Jewish slave-labor and mass deportation actions, while in the urban centers they resembled walled-off prison-islands described by some historians as little more than instruments of "slow, passive murder", with dead bodies littering the streets.In most cases, the larger ghettos did not correspond to traditional Jewish neighborhoods, and non-Jewish Poles and members of other ethnic groups were ordered to take up residence elsewhere. Smaller Jewish communities with populations under 500 were terminated through expulsion soon after the invasion.Leo Holzer
Leo Holzer (1902 – January 1989) was an Austrian-Czech firefighter and Holocaust survivor best known for leading the fire brigade inside Theresienstadt concentration camp, which he used as a cover for resistance activities. After the war, he remained in communist Czechoslovakia and became an advocate for Czech-German reconciliation.List of Nazi ghettos
This article is a partial list of selected Jewish ghettos created by the Nazis for the purpose of isolating, exploiting and finally, eradicating Jewish population (and sometimes Gypsies) on territories they controlled. Most of the prominent ghettos listed here were set up by the Third Reich and its allies in the course of World War II. In total, according to USHMM archives, "The Germans established at least 1,000 ghettos in German-occupied and annexed Poland and the Soviet Union alone." Therefore, the examples are intended only to illustrate their scope across Eastern and Western Europe.Naliboki massacre
The Naliboki massacre (Polish: zbrodnia w Nalibokach) was the 8 May 1943 mass killing of 129 Poles, including women and children, by Soviet partisans in the small town of Naliboki in German-occupied Poland (the town is now in Belarus).Before the 1939 German-Soviet invasion of Poland, Naliboki was part of eastern Poland's Stołpce County, Nowogródek Province.Nazi concentration camps
Nazi Germany maintained concentration camps (German: Konzentrationslager, KZ or KL) throughout the territories it controlled before and during the Second World War. The first Nazi camps were erected in Germany in March 1933 immediately after Hitler became Chancellor and his Nazi Party was given control of the police by Reich Interior Minister Wilhelm Frick and Prussian Acting Interior Minister Hermann Göring. Used to hold and torture political opponents and union organizers, the camps initially held around 45,000 prisoners. In 1933–1939, before the onset of war, most prisoners consisted of German Communists, Socialists, Social Democrats, Roma, Jehovah's Witnesses, homosexuals, and persons accused of 'asocial' or socially 'deviant' behavior by the Germans.Heinrich Himmler's Schutzstaffel (SS) took full control of the police and the concentration camps throughout Germany in 1934–35. The role of the camps expanded to hold so-called"undesirables such as Jews Romanis/Sintis, Serbs, Soviet Pows, Poles, disabled people,and clergymen. The number of people in the camps, which had fallen to 7,500, grew again to 21,000 by the start of World War II and peaked at 715,000 in January 1945.Beginning in 1934 the concentration camps were administered by the Concentration Camps Inspectorate (CCI), which in 1942 was merged into SS-Wirtschafts-Verwaltungshauptamt, and they were guarded by SS-Totenkopfverbände (SS-TV).
Holocaust scholars draw a distinction between concentration camps (described in this article) and extermination camps, which were established by Nazi Germany for the industrial-scale mass murder of Jews in the ghettos by way of gas chambers.Simon Pullman
Simon Pullman (15 February 1890 in Warsaw – August 1942 in Treblinka) was a violinist, conductor, music teacher and founder and Director of the Pullman Ensemble and Orchestra, and a seminal figure in the evolution of chamber music performance.
Born in Warsaw, he was a nephew of the famous Yiddish actress Ester Rachel Kamińska and cousin of Ida Kaminska and Josef Kaminsky. He studied with Leopold Auer at the St. Petersburg Conservatory (1905-1909) where he received his diploma. 1913 he continued his studies with Martin Pierre Marsick at the Conservatoire de Paris. Back in Warsaw, he founded and led a chamber orchestra specialised on music of the Vienna Classic (1915 to 1920). In the 1920s and 1930s he taught violin, viola, and chamber music at the New Vienna Conservatory (Neues Wiener Konservatorium), where he coached several groups including the Galimir String Quartet (led by Felix Galimir). In 1930 he founded the Pullman Ensemble, consisting of 17 string players (4 string quartets with a double-bass), of which the specialty was their performance of Beethoven's Große Fuge Op. 133 and String Quartet in C# minor Op. 131. Later, 10 windplayers were added to form the Pullman Orchestra, which performed regularly in Vienna and throughout Europe until 1938, when Pullman was able to escape to Paris.
According to his students and colleagues, Pullman was a visionary musician; his desire for a kind of revelatory ensemble playing led him to make use of the widest possible range of string tone, to demand a perfect legato, and to search out highly unorthodox fingerings to match his conceptions of phrasing. Rehearsals were intense and long — however, they functioned as rolling all-day affairs where members came and went as their schedules permitted. Through his pupils Felix Galimir, Richard Goldner, and others, his ideas influenced the training of generations of chamber music performers in the U. S., Australia (Musica Viva Australia), and elsewhere.In August 1939, he visited Warsaw, Poland, in an attempt to sell a house belonging to his wife, and was trapped there by the German invasion. Imprisoned in the Warsaw Ghetto, he directed (beneath the orchestra founders Marian Neuteich and Adam Furmanski) the Warsaw Ghetto Symphony Orchestra, which included among notable musicians, Ludwik Holcman. The band performed frequently from 1940-1942. Pullman was transported to Treblinka extermination camp in early August 1942, and like him all of the members of the orchestra were presumed to have been killed.The Holocaust in Luxembourg
The Holocaust in Luxembourg refers to the persecution and near-annihilation of the 3,500-strong Jewish population of Luxembourg begun shortly after the start of the German occupation during World War II, when the country was officially incorporated into Nazi Germany. The persecution lasted until October 1941, when the Germans declared the territory to be free of Jews who had been deported to extermination camps and ghettos in Eastern Europe.The Holocaust in Russia
The Holocaust in Russia refers to the Nazi crimes during the occupation of Russia (Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic) by Nazi Germany.The Holocaust in Ukraine
The Holocaust in Ukraine took place in Reichskommissariat Ukraine during the occupation of the Soviet Ukraine by Nazi Germany in World War II. Between 1941 and 1944 more than a million Jews living in Ukrainian SSR were murdered as part of Generalplan Ost and the Final Solution extermination policies.
According to Yale historian Timothy D. Snyder, "the Holocaust is integrally and organically connected to the Vernichtungskrieg, to the war in 1941, and is organically and integrally connected to the attempt to conquer Ukraine."The Holocaust in the USSR
The Holocaust in the Soviet Union (USSR) refers to the German persecution of Jews, Roma and homosexuals as part of The Holocaust in World War II.
It may refer to:
The Holocaust in Russia
The Holocaust in Belarus
The Holocaust in UkraineIt may also refer to The Holocaust in the Baltic states, annexed by the Soviet Union before the war:
The Holocaust in Latvia
The Holocaust in Lithuania
The Holocaust in EstoniaWarsaw Ghetto
The Warsaw Ghetto (German: Warschauer Ghetto, officially Jüdischer Wohnbezirk in Warschau, "Jewish Residential District in Warsaw"; Polish: getto warszawskie) was the largest of all the Jewish ghettos in German-occupied Europe during World War II. It was established by the German authorities in November 1940; within the new General Government territory of German-occupied Poland. There were over 400,000 Jews imprisoned there, at an area of 3.4 km2 (1.3 sq mi), with an average of 9.2 persons per room, barely subsisting on meager food rations. From the Warsaw Ghetto, Jews were deported to Nazi concentration camps and mass-killing centers. In the summer of 1942 at least 254,000 Ghetto residents were sent to the Treblinka extermination camp during Großaktion Warschau under the guise of "resettlement in the East" over the course of the summer. The ghetto was demolished by the Germans in May 1943 after the Warsaw Ghetto Uprisings which had temporarily halted the deportations. The total death toll among the Jewish inhabitants of the Ghetto is estimated to be at least 300,000 killed by bullet or gas, combined with 92,000 victims of rampant hunger and hunger-related diseases, the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, and the casualties of the final destruction of the Ghetto.Whisper joke
In the history of German humour, whisper jokes (German: Flüsterwitze) were jokes that could not be told in public because they address taboo subjects, e.g., criticize authorities.Yizkor books
Yizkor books are memorial books commemorating a Jewish community destroyed during the Holocaust. The books are published by former residents or landsmanshaft societies as remembrances of homes, people and ways of life lost during World War II. Yizkor books usually focus on a town but may include sections on neighboring smaller communities. Most of these books are written in Yiddish or Hebrew, some also include sections in English or other languages, depending on where they were published. Since the 1990s, many of these books, or sections of them have been translated into English.