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The Radegast Station - The Marysin side track

The side track in Marysin, now known as the Radegast station - the name it received during the occupation - was established in 1937, but only started to fulfill its role in April 1940. Initially, food and fuel for the ghetto was brought to Radegast, as well as raw materials for clothing, shoes and uniforms for the German army; finished goods were also shipped from there. Starting in 1941, transports of Jews from Western Europe were brought to Radegast, including those coming from Berlin, Prague, Vienna and Luxembourg, as well as Gypsies from Burgenland and Jews from liquidated ghettos in cities and towns of the Warthegau. Since January 1942, transports of Jews to extermination camps departed from the Radegast station - first north to Chełmno, then south - to Auschwitz-Birkenau.

In 2005, a monument of the Victims of the Litzmannstadt Ghetto was erected here, designed by Czesław Bielecki, consisting of a broken column visible from afar, with an inscription proclaiming in Polish, English and Hebrew: "Thou shalt not kill." The interior of the monument can be entered through a tunnel ending in the so-called “hall of cities”, with names of the places from which Jews came to the Łódź ghetto. In the tunnel, copies of transport lists are exhibited along with display cases with objects found in Chełmno on the Ner. Next to the station building (which now houses a branch of the Museum of Independence Traditions) freight wagons are placed, in which people were transported to their death. Behind the building, there are concrete matzevahs with names of concentration camps to which the Jews of the Łódź ghetto were sent, including: Sachsenhausen-Oranienburg, Stutthof, Gross-Rosen and Ravensbrück. Plaques on the wall remind us that the monument was erected using the funds of the city, state and sponsors during the term of the Mayor of Łódź, Jerzy Kropiwnicki. Josef Buchman, a businessman from Frankfurt also donated a significant sum of money for this purpose (his parents died in the Litzmannstadt ghetto). The city of Vienna also contributed to the monument.

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Plac Bazarowy

 

Before the outbreak of World War II, the Bazarowy (or Bazarny) Square was a place where commerce flourished. During the German occupation, just after the Litzmannstadt Ghetto had been created, the Square initially functioned as it used to before the war - traders and buyers still gathered there. In the vicinity of the Bazarowy Square – at 8 Rybna Street, several institutions were located, including the Department of Ration Cards and the Housing Allotment Office. From December 1941, the Displaced Persons Department was located at this address, which helped Jews brought from Western Europe. A little further along Rybna street, at numbers 15 and 21 schools were located, converted in the autumn of 1941 into collectives for persons displaced from Dusseldorf. At 14a Rybna Street Hilda Stern Cohen lived, brought on a transport from Frankfurt am Main. Her poems were published after the war. Between Rybna Street, Bazarowa Street and the today’s Zachodnia Street the old Jewish cemetery was located. Today, a commemorative plaque marks its location.

In 1942, the Bazarowy Square became a place of public executions of the ghetto residents - the first one took place on February 21st, 1942 On that day, in front of the Jews deported the West and forced into the Square by the Germans, Max Hertz of Cologne was executed, sentenced to death for an attempted escape from the ghetto.

Max Hertz transported from Cologne
on October 23 1941
went back to the train station
but when he was paying for the ticket
David’s star fell out of his pocket
straight into the cashier’s eye
and he hung over the bazaar pointing
the shortest way back to Europe

Henryk Grynberg, Hamburg Elysee
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Franciszkańska Street

 

Franciszkańska Street was the longest thoroughfare in the Litzmannstadt Ghetto. For many Jews from Western Europe it became the last address before deportation to death camps. At the beginning and the end of the street German guardhouses were located. Elegant townhouses in its southern part, near the Biedermann palace, housed important institutions. At number 27, in parish buildings of the Mariavite church (turned into warehouse) a Jewish police station was located. The Summary Court and the Commission of Deportations were located, which, at the beginning of 1942, compiled a list of the ghetto inhabitants to be sent to the extermination camp at Chełmno on the Ner. At 29 Franciszkańska St. a primary school was established, operating until the autumn of 1941, and since May 1942 – Tailor Division. In autumn 1941, after nearly 20 thousand Jews from Western Europe had been deported to the ghetto, many of them were located in housing collectives along Franciszkańska Street. At number 13, there was a collective of persons deported from Frankfurt am Main; at number 21 lived the Jews brought from Prague on transports II and III. At 27 Franciszkańska St., there was the Berlin IV collective, in the house at number 29 - Prague IV collective. On the opposite side of the street, in the house at number 30, an orthodox synagogue was located, as well as a communal kitchen and Clothing Department. At 31 Franciszkańska St., in the former "Bajka" cinema, from October 17 until November 27, 1941 the seat of the Hamburg collective was located. After it had been moved to 25 Młynarska St., the building was turned into a reformed house of worship, meant for the Jews of Western Europe. The last collective at Franciszkańska St. was located at number 37 – Jews brought on the Prague III transport lived there.

It was there, at Franciszkańska St., where the sisters of Franz Kafka lived, brought in the transports from Prague - Gabriele Hermannova (13/15 Franciszkańska St.) and Valerie Pollakova (29 Franciszkańska St.).

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Plac Kościelny

 

Plac Kościelny is one of the most characteristic places in the history of the Łódź ghetto. Two neo-Gothic towers of the Church of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary rise above the square. During the occupation, a warehouse was located there, where the stolen Jewish property was kept, and after 1942 - things left behind by the Jews murdered at Chełmno on the Ner. The Church was called a "White Factory" by the inhabitants of the ghetto - it was filled with feathers from bedding looted by the Nazis from the Jews of the Litzmannstadt Ghetto and ghettos in towns near Łódź. Buildings around Plac Kościelny housed institutions important for the functioning of the ghetto. A bridge over Zgierska St. connecting the two parts of the ghetto (featured in the archival photographs) was located near the entrance to the temple. Opposite the church (at Lutomierska St.) the Jewish police station was located.

Number 4 Plac Kościelny was the address of the following departments: Population Registration Department, including the Housing Office, the Registry Office, Department of Statistics and Archives - it was here that "The Chronicle of the Łódź Ghetto" was created, a document which is one of the most important sources of information on Jewish people during World War II. The Chronicle was created by the Jews of Łódź, including Stanisław Cukier-Cerski, , Bernard Ostrowski and Abraham Kamieniecki, as well as Jews who had been deported to the Litzmannstadt Ghetto in 1941, such as Oskar Singer (who supervised the work on the "Chronicle" from April 1943), Bernard Heiling, Oskar Rosenfeld from Prague and Alice de Buton from Vienna. The Department of Statistics employed photographers, including Mendel Grossman and Henryk Ross; they took thousands of photographs of the Łódź ghetto, providing us with an opportunity to learn about the everyday life in the closed area. Until September 1942, the building also housed a Rabbinical College.

The parish house at 8 Kościelna St. a police station of the German criminal police (kripo) was located, called the "red house". It was a particularly grim place where the ghetto residents were imprisoned, beaten and tortured.

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The Bałucki Market

 

During the German occupation, the Bałucki Market was one of the most important places in the Litzmannstadt Ghetto. The square was fenced with barbed wire and guarded by German sentries. It could only be accessed if one had a special pass. The main points of the German and Jewish ghetto administration were located there. The barracks at the Bałucki Market housed the German branch of the ghetto administrative agency (Gettoverwaltung), where Hans Biebow resided; the Central Secretariat also operated at the square, with the offices of Mordechai Chaim Rumkowski, the Elder of the Jews in the Łódź ghetto, who held office from October 1939 until the liquidation of the ghetto. The Bałucki Market was also where fuel and food were brought to the ghetto from villages near Łódź.

Across Zgierska street, in the corner building which still exists today (Limanowskiego Street), the Łódź Gestapo headquarters were housed during the war, as well as the Schupo area VI (prevention police). It was from here that the Nazi authorities exercised political control over the ghetto and the police.

The center of the ghetto was the Bałucki Market. Once a marketplace flowing with food products directly supplied from the rural areas - at prices so low that no one, even the poorest never starved, now it has been turned into the headquarters of the Eldest of the Jews, his staff and the German ghetto authorities. There was also a food storage area located in wooden barracks that had a tram connection with the city and the ghetto. Everything was enclosed with a barbed wire fence, guarded by German sentries and a Jewish policemen. The population of the ghetto pronounced the name of the Bałucki Market solemnly. It was a manor, "a government district," a fortress, separated from the ghetto with barbed wire, supposedly excluded from its area. Only officials wearing a yellow band were allowed access and, in exceptional cases, civilians escorted by prevention service.

Bernard Heilig, The First Seven Months in the Litzmannstadt Ghetto, 1942

(transl. from German by K. Radziszewska)

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