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Haunting voices from the Lodz ghetto 1944

Posted in Holocaust, Jewish Ghetto with tags , , , , , , , , , , on September 17, 2009 by indyretreats

Excerpts from The Chronicle of the Lodz Ghetto 1941-1944 edited by Lucjan Dobroszycki, Yale University Press, 1984:

Friday, 16 June 1944–The proclamation [No. 416] still speaks of voluntary registration. But in the present state of affairs this formulation is very much out of date; and presumably the entire apparatus that has always operated in such situations [i.e. forced evacuation] will be set in motion immediately…The actual goal is multiple, large-scale shipment of workers outside the ghetto…about 900 [are] to leave [next Friday]…Then 3,000 people will leave each week for the next three weeks, in transports of 1,000.

Chaim Rumkowski

Chaim Rumkowski

Soon after, notices were delivered to those assigned for “resettlement” in accord with the Gestapo memo delivered to Chaim Rumkowski, The Eldest of the Jews. A portion of that memo is recorded below…

Sunday, 18 June 1944–Memorandum: On Monday, Wednesday, and Friday of each week, a shipment of 1,000 people is to depart for labor outside the ghetto. The first transport is to leave on Wednesday, 21 June 1944…[commentary follows] no time limit or numerical limit has been specified, so there is uncertainty in this regard. This has led pessimists to conclude that the true goal is the gradual liquidation of the ghetto.

In fact, Reichfurher-SS Himmler had issued the order for liquidating Lodz ghetto just eight days prior.

Monday, 19 June 1944–There has been no essential change in the situation…The first workshop lists have gone into effect, and departure orders have reached those involved…when [the commission] issues the departure order, it simultaneously suspends the worker’s ration card and, where applicable, those of the entire family…People who were resettled into this ghetto are fighting with traditional tactics: by night they go into hiding at the apartments of others, hoping thereby to elude the Order Service…Word has it that the first dispatch of approximately 600 people wwill leave not on Wednesday [21 June 1944], but on Friday the 23rd, because the requisitioned freight cars will not be available. This report has led the ghetto, always susceptible to optimistic rumors, to hope that the entire resettlement action is not yet a certainty.

In their defense, very few deportations had occurred from the ghetto the previous year and reports of Russian advances in the war with Germany had given some residents hope of imminent liberation. Unbeknownst to the victims, Himmler and the SS had accelerated their “Final Solution to the Jewish problem,” and hence the aforementioned liquidation order of 10 June ’44.

Sketches of Ghetto Life: Escape into Hell–The postmen are rushing through town, or rather, they have a rush job to do. But they themselves are trudging through the streets, up and down the stairs. Their bags are full now. When there is a knock at the door, the tenant knows it is neither the milkman nor the baker; and the normally welcome mailman frightens people with his knock in broad daylight as if it were midnight. No sooner are their departure orders in people’s hands than they have resolved to resist…They move into their hideouts, fix them up, stock them with whatever supplies of food they may have…Their ration cards are suspended; there will be no bread, no soup in the workshops, not even vegetables. The bit of food that normally kept them from starvation will no longer be available. But instinct drives them, fear hounds them…People refuse to leave hell because they have grown accustomed to it.

Beginning 23 June 1944 and ending 14 July 1944, ten transports carried 7,196 people from Lodz to the death camp at Chelmno. After a brief interruption of the ghetto’s liquidation, transports resumed. This time, death transports would not cease until nearly every Jew in the ghetto was delivered to Auschwitz.
Chelmno Transport in open rail cars

Chelmno Transport in open rail cars

 
Lodz Photo Gallery
 
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