Ghetto Chronicle

In November 1940 the Department of Archives was founded as part of ghetto administration. It functioned as long as it was possible given the times and circumstances. Its task was to collect documents relating to everyday realities and history of the ghetto. Department staff was supposed to document an flatter the merits of Ch.M. Rumkowski, and collect evidence of his activities, but they undertook a more important task: to describe everything that was happening in the ghetto, and collect materials for future generations. From 12 January 1941 till 31 July 1944 they worked on the “Chronicle of the Ghetto.” The team of archivists consisted of 10 to 15 people, both locals from Łódź and deportees from other places in Poland and in Europe. Most were journalists, writers and scientists, but there was an engineer and a craftsman in this group as well. Only one of the authors of the Chronicle survived the Holocaust – Bernard Ostrowski. Others: Józef Klementynowski, Julian Cukier-Cerski, Szmul Hecht, Bernard Heilig, Abram Kamieniecki, Oskar Rosenfeld, Oskar Singer, Peter Wertheimer, Józef Zelkowicz, Jerachmil Bryman, Moszek Nowak, Celina Jaszuńska and Alice de Buton either died in the ghetto or were murdered in Auschwitz-Birkenau. The first entries in the Chronicle were edited in Polish. From September to December 1942 entries were written in Polish and in German, and from January 1943 exclusively in German. The editors of the “Chronicle” created daily reports for the Archive that included weather, numbers of births and deaths, important events, information about provisions, data relating to industrial production in the ghetto, and descriptions of everyday life. They had access to announcements and correspondence collected in the Department. As staff members they could access data relating to resettlements and deportations, population – including numbers of men and women, records of marriages and funerals. The Chronicle didn’t have any readers at that time – it was concealed in the archive. The texts underwent strict censorship, and – most probably – were a result of autocensorship. In the entries from before September 1942, the editors emphasized the greatness of Rumkowski, and uncritically described his actions. “The Chronicle” doesn’t fully encompass the life in the ghetto, but it remains one of the most precious and most important source for contemporary researchers dealing with the history of Łódź Ghetto.