The Łódź ghetto was created by Germans in February 1940. At first, 160 thousand Jews of Łódź were closed there. In April 1940 the German occupiers renamed the city of Łódź Litzmannstadt. One of the most important moments in the history of the Litzmannstadt Ghetto was the arrival of nearly 20 thousand Jews from Western Europe, coming mainly from intellectual and artistic circles of Berlin, Vienna, Prague, Emden, Hamburg, Dusseldorf, Frankfurt and Luxembourg. Transports from these cities reached Litzmannstadt between 17 October and 4 November, 1941. Among those deported to the ghetto were: Paul Kornfeld, one of the most promising writers of modern Europe, world-class chemists James Speyer and Hugo Dietz, mathematician Louis Berwald, Franz Kafka’s sisters, musician Berthard Silberstein, prominent oncologist Wilhelm Caspari, as well as many others. The vast majority of the deported Jews were elderly and ailing. The aim of the resettlement was to concentrate the population before the planned extermination.
Bringing twenty thousand people into the overcrowded Łódź ghetto worsened the already severe housing conditions. The ghetto authorities transformed buildings previously operating as schools or nurseries into the so-called “residential collectives". New residents found it very difficult to adapt to the conditions in the ghetto. Another problem was the assimilation with the local population - a large number of the newcomers from the West had abandoned Judaism, many of them were Christians. Age, health status, language and occupational structure of the group made it extremely difficult for them to find employment, and work was the only chance of survival in the ghetto.
Living conditions: filth, famine, lack of space and cold resulted in a sharp increase in the incidence of dysentery, typhoid and typhus, which in turn caused the mortality rate to surge. In May 1942, the Jews from Western Europe were included in the forced displacement action - that is extermination. Between 4 and 15 May 1942, Germans deported more than 10 thousand people in 12 transports to the Kulmhof camp (Chelmno on the Ner) and then murdered them there. Children, the elderly and the sick who managed to survive the first wave of deportations died in September 1942 during the so-called "Allgemeine Gesperre" (General Curfew). Those who survived (7196 people) were deported by the Nazis to the death camps in Auschwitz-Birkenau and Kulmhof in 1944. Only few of those whom the Nazis deported in 1941 to the ghetto in the occupied Łódź survived World War II.