The Ghetto in Łódź

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.

Źródło: Archiwum Państwowe w Łodzi
  1. The outbreak of World War II - Nazi Germany invades Poland.

  2. German troops enter Łódź, occupation begins.

  3. Chaim Rumkowski is appointed Chairman of the Jewish Council of Łódź.

  4. All Jews over the age of 10 are forced to wear a star of David.

  5. Germans establish the ghetto in Łódź.

  6. German authorities change the name of Łódź to Litzmannstadt.

  7. The ghetto in Łódź is cut off from the rest of the city.

  8. Hans Biebow becomes head of German administration of Łódź Ghetto.

  9. Approx. 1000 Jews from Vienna are deported to Łódź Ghetto in the first transport from Western Europe.

  10. Approx. 1000 Jews from Prague are deported to Łódź Ghetto in the last big transport from the West.

  11. Deportations of Jews from Łódź Ghetto to Chełmno death camp begin. The death camp located 70 km from Łódź was created in December 1941 and was the first one in the entire system of Nazi death camps in occupied Poland; more than 57,000 Jews were murdered there until May of 1942.

  12. Chaim Rumkowski’s speech at Plac Strażacki (Firefighters’ Square) urging families in the ghetto to give their children for the deportation.

  13. Wielka Szpera – massive and brutal deportation action directed against children under the age of 10, elderly people over the age of 65, and people suffering from illnesses or disabilities. As a result more than 15,500 Jews were deported and murdered in Chełmno death camp. One third of the victims were children under the age of 10.

    „Obwieszczenie o „Wielkiej Szperze” obowiązującej od godziny 17:00 5 września 1942. źródło: Archiwum Państwowe w Łodzi, zespół archiwalny: Akta Miasta Łodzi
  14. The Łódź Ghetto is transformed into a labor camp

  15. Reichsführer SS Heinrich Himmler orders the final liquidation of Łódź Ghetto – the last large ghetto remaining in occupied Europe.

  16. Transports from the ghetto to Chełmno death camp (until 14 July 1944)

  17. Transports to Auschwitz-Birkenau from Radegast Station in Łódź.

  18. End of the liquidation action in Łódź Ghetto – the last transport leaves the Radegast Station for Auschwitz-Birkenau

  19. The Red Army enters Łódź. Only 600-800 Jews lived to see the liberation

  20. Trial of Hans Biebow, head of the German administration of the Łódź Ghetto. Biebow was sentenced to death.