The history of Litzmannstadt Ghetto
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On September 8, 1939 the German army entered Łódź and straight away the German authorities began oppressing and terrorizing Jews. These actions were based on Nuremberg Laws from 1935 naming Jews to be outlawed without rights as citizens. From November 9, 1939 Łódź was governed by Artur Greiser whose idea was to germanize the area as soon as possible. He issued a number of ruthless regulations.
The first repressions date back to September and October 1939. They limited cash transactions and prohibited leather and textile trade. The idea behind these decisions was to isolate Jews and restrict mobility. The next document was issued September 1, 1939 and it ordered all the shops and factories to be signed with the owner’s nationality. Following that, came the order for Jews to wear yellow armbands. Violation of that was punished by a 6-week imprisonment or a penalty fee of 150 marks. Only children under 6 were excused. The armbands were replaced with yellow Star of David placed on the front and back of the coat.
The next restrictions forbade the Jews to walk along the main street (which changed from Piotrkowska to Adolf Hitler Strasse) to have any trade business and to walk in the parks or use the public transport. Violation of these restrictions was punished with unequal penalties. Within 4 days in November 1939 all synagogues were burnt down or blown up.
Not long after the invasion, the Germans started plundering Jewish shops and flats. Under the pretext of weapon searches they violently entered buildings and robbed all valuables. The Germans from Łódź, knowing their Jewish neighbors, participated in robberies or blackmailed them in order to gain financial profits or to take over shops and attractive apartments. On September 18, 1939 a new order was issued blocking Jewish bank accounts, deposits and safe-deposit boxes was issued. From that moment on the Jews could not withdraw more than 500 zlotys a week from their ordinary bank accounts and no more that 250 zlotys a week from their saving accounts. They could not keep at their homes more that 2000 zloty either.
The Jews were forced to report and hand over all their textile materials and goods manufactured before September, 10. From the beginning of the war Jews were seized in street raids and sent into slave labor. The raids were conducted by the civil police and German inhabitants. Humiliation was the main driving force of these actions. In order to stop the raids, the Jewish Community formed a Job Office(Arbeitseinsatz I) that supplied German authorities with the workforce. At the beginning it provided 700 workers a day but the number soon increased to 2000 people. The workers didn’t receive any payment or any compensations for their work.
As it was mentioned before violence was present everywhere. Sicherheitsdienst (SD) operation groups, together with the police, captured Jewish political and social activists as well as intellectualists and placed them at Radogoszcz concentration camp. They got beaten and tortured and then were deported to Dachau and Mauthausen concentration camps or shot dead. On November 11, 1939 almost all members of Eldest Council were arrested and imprisoned at Radogoszcz camp. Only 6 out of 30 councillors were let free. The rest was tortured and then murdered in Łagiewnicki wood.