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65th Anniversary of the Liquidation of the Lodz Ghetto

29 August 1944 marks the day of the last transport from the Lodz Ghetto, called Litzmannstadt Ghetto by the Germans. It is a very important date in the history of two nations - Jews and Poles. The Lodz Ghetto had the second largest Jewish population (after Warsaw) in occupied Poland and it was the longest existing ghetto in Europe. Between 1940 and 1944, over 200,000 people were deported to the ghetto by the Germans.

Before World War II, Lodz was a multi-ethnic city, and its over 200,000 Jews were the largest national minority. In early 1940, the German occupation authorities established a ghetto in Lodz, where the Jews from Lodz and neighbouring towns, as well as 20,000 Jews from Austria, Czechoslovakia, Luxembourg and Germany were brought and forced to live. The ghetto was turned into a large factory making products for the Third Reich. Over 180,000 Jews died in the extermination camps and only 13,000, or only 5% of the city's former Jewish population, survived.

The organization scheme of the Lodz Ghetto served as a model for establishing the Warsaw Ghetto, as well as other ghettos. In autumn 1941, the Germans began resettling the Jews from Prague, Vienna, Luxembourg and Germany's Berlin, Düsseldorf, Emden, Frankfurt, Hamburg and Cologne. Within one month, 19,954 Jews from Western Europe were deported to the ghetto and, in the following months, another 18,000 Jews from provincial ghettos that had been liquidated.

There were 100 factories and workshops in the ghetto (textile, leather, wood, metal and others). Following mass re-settlements from January to mid-September 1942 when over 72,000 Jews who either did not work or were incapable of working (the so-called redundant element) were transported to the extermination camp in Chelmno on Ner (Kulmhof am Ner), the ghetto was turned into a huge labour camp, with employment over 60,000. The most tragic event in the history of the ghetto, the so-called shpere , or deportation of children under 10 and adults over 65, took place on 5-12 September 1942. After the mass re-location, slave labour was done by nearly all the remaining Jews.

Hunger prevailed in the ghetto and death took a heavy toll. People were dying of strenuous work and widespread diseases. In addition, poor living and sanitary conditions caused the death of over 40,000 inhabitants.

In line with the German policy, only people capable of working were allowed to stay in the ghetto. Those incapable of working were sent to death in Kulmhof am Ner. Over 80,000 Jews were exterminated by the Germans there. The first transport departed for Auschwitz on 9 August 1944. The Jews were led to believe that they were going inside the Third Reich. In reality, all the transports headed for the gas chambers of the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp. Over 67,000 inhabitants were deported from the Lodz Ghetto by 29 August 1944. According to estimates made by Arnold Mostowicz, a ghetto survivor himself, only 12,000-15,000 people survived. The ghetto ceased to exist. A commando of 800 people remained there to clean it and most of them survived.

The drawing by Abraham Koplowicz, a fourteen-year-old boy who died in a gas chamber in 1944, was copied on the reverse of the 2 zł Nordic Gold coin by courtesy of Mr. Eliezer Grynfeld, Abraham Koplowicz's stepbrother.

City of Lodz Office
and National Bank of Poland