The Agony of the Lodz Ghetto, 1941-1944

by Abraham J. Peck

Lucjan Dobroszycki, ed. The Chronicle of the Lodz Ghetto, 1941-1944. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1984. 1xviii, 551 pages.


Lodz was the last of the great Polish cities to be founded and the first since the age of Jewish emancipation to create, under Nazi rule, a self-contained ghetto for its Jews.

But in the years between its beginnings and the end of its active existence as an autonomous Polish city, Lodz stood apart from the other great metropolitan centers of Poland. When the city received its official charter in 1820, Jews had already been a part of its development for over a quarter of a century. By 1939, nearly a quarter of a million Jews ran the city's newspapers, its commercial businesses, and its free professions. But in this "city of nationalities' " another group besides the Jews played a vital role in its social and economic life. These were ethnic Germans, who had come to Lodz as early as 1820 to develop its manufacturing, and by 1939 they numbered well over 60,000 individuals. Thus in a city that counted over 700,000 inhabitants at the outbreak of World War II, more than 40 percent of the population was not Polish. Even more unusual was the sense of security felt by Lodz Jewry, despite the fact that Poland had a history of antisernitism. In this "most Jewish" city in Poland, Lodz Jewry had exerted a tremendous influence on the overall life of the city for over a century.1

On the surface, one could never confuse the Jewish image of Lodz with that of the other great Jewish communities in Eastern Europe.

Vilna for instance was known by its Jews as the "Jerusalem of Lithuania," an image meant to portray a Jewish atmosphere fun of pious rabbis and beautiful synagogues, great Jewish scholars and important Jewish research institutions and libraries.

But Lodz was a working-class city similar to the northern English industrial center of Manchester. As the "Manchester of Poland," Lodz was an important textile center, but it was also a dirty, choking environment. Even the Yizkor bukh (memorial volume) of Lodz Jewry could not present a more romanticized image of the community. For its authors, Lodz was a place where the "streets were narrow ... not suitable for heavy traffic. . . . no gardens, no attractive houses or boulevards. The gray smoke from the factory chimneys covered the sky. The factory whistles were the music of the city."2

Surface descriptions, however, could be deceptive. Lodz Jewry produced an exciting and impressive array of cultural, business, and political achievements, especially during the interwar years of 1918 to 1939. Julian Tuwim, perhaps Poland's greatest poet, was born in Lodz and wrote his first poems there. The pianist Artur Rubinstein and the artist Artur Szyk were natives. The interwar years produced writers such as Izchak Katzenelson, Israel Rabon, and Moshe Broderson, as well as the brilliant comedy of Shimon Dzigan. The period also saw the development of a rich and diverse Jewish political life, with groups representing Lodz Jewry's affiliation to the left-wing socialism of the Bund, the religiosity of the Agudath Israel, and, of course, to the enthusiasm of the numerous Zionist factions.

By the 1930s, however, the status of Lodz as Poland's most secure Jewish environment was increasingly in doubt. The rising nationalistic antisemitism of certain social classes was accompanied in Lodz by a growing anti-Jewish feeling among the Polish working class, which resented the non-Polish domination of the city's cultural and economic life.

The German population, too, became increasingly antisemitic, taking its cue from the Nazi government in Berlin. During the 1930's it grew especially resentful of Jewish "domination" of the textile industry, an industry that the Germans had been developing for over a century.3

On 8 September 1939, the German army entered Lodz and began an occupation that would eventually put an end to more than 100 years of Jewish life in Poland's second largest city.


The history of that destruction has now been published in an English- language version by the Yale University Press. But the Chronicle of the Lodz Ghetto, 1941-1944 is as much about Jewish life as it is about Jewish death. This makes it a much different kind of work than Raul Hilberg's classic, The Destruction of the European Jews and ultimately, for our understanding of the Jewish response to the Holocaust, a more important one.

The publication of the Chronicle may be understood as the most significant contribution to Jewish source materials on ghetto life since the publication of the diaries of Emanuel Ringelblum, who founded and headed oyneg shabbos, the secret Jewish archives of the Warsaw ghetto. 4

We owe a great debt of gratitude to Dr. Lucjan Dobroszycki, the editor of the Chronicle. His effort and achievement is a scholarly one indeed, but also deeply personal. Dobroszycki is a native of Lodz, and was incarcerated in the ghetto from its beginning until the end of its formal existence in August 1944, when he and his family were transported to Auschwitz. The story of the Lodz ghetto is therefore his story.

Dobroszycki did not emerge from either the Lodz ghetto or from the Holocaust without at least one of the symbols that represent the suffering of Holocaust survivors. Auschwitz claimed his parents and his two younger brothers. Yet unlike the majority of Jewish survivors from Poland, he remained in the country after 1945. Subsequently, he became associated with the Institute of History of the Polish Academy of Sciences in Warsaw. It was there in 1965 and 1966 that he, in association with another very capable historian, Danuta Dabrowska, published two volumes of the Chronicle in the original Polish and German for the years 1941 and 1942.5 The final three volumes had already been announced by the publisher, Lodz Publishing House, when upon orders of the Polish state authorities, the publishing agreement was rescinded and the final volumes banned from publication. The action was taken as a planned part of the Polish government's anti-Jewish and anti-Israel campaign, which began immediately after the Six-Day War in 1967. Dobroszycki was ultimately forced to leave Poland for the U.S., where he is now associated with the YIVO Institute and the Max Weinreich Center for Advanced Jewish Studies in New York, as well as Yeshiva University.

The English edition of the Chronicle contains approximately one quarter of the original text. But Dobroszycki has been careful to retain almost all of the important entries (and themes) about life and society in the Lodz ghetto.

The Chronicle was written in both Polish and German by a team of skilled authors and observers, Polish Jews and West European Jews who had been deported to Lodz in the autumn of 1941. As the great ghetto photographer, Mendel Grossman,6 was secretly shooting his visual history of the life and death of Lodz Jewry, the authors of the Chronicle were recording many of the same events on paper. This is an unparalleled set of historical documents about the Holocaust.

It would not be fair to the memories of these authors if we did not mention their names: Julian Cukier, Alicia de Bunan, Szmuel Hecht, Dr. Bernard Heilig, Dr. Abram S. Kamieniecki, Dr. Oskar Rosenfeld, Dr. Oskar Singer, and Josef Zelkowitcz. None of them survived.

What is so strikingly different about the Chronicle is that although it was written in secret, making its creators subject to discovery and severe punishment,7 its contents reflected the "official" side of its authors' activity. That activity was the work of the Lodz Ghetto Department of the Archives, sanctioned by Mordecai Chaim Rumkowski, the "Eldest of the Jews" (head of the Jewish Council), in November 1940, to preserve archival materials from the prewar Lodz community and from the ghetto administration. Ultimately, the Archives became more than a mere repository for such records. It became a full-fledged historical institute, collecting both Jewish and German sources, collecting visual documentation as well as books and manuscripts left behind by deported ghetto dwellers. It even published monographs and a Who's Who of the Jewish ghetto administration. And, of course, it pursued its most important, if secret project-the compilation of the Chronicle.

Because the Chronicle was written under such conditions, it is an especially important source of information. Unlike the diaries, memoirs, and chronicles written by individual Jews during the Second World War, the Chronicle was written with a much greater access to sources of official information. It is less subject to mere impressionism and "unofficial rumors," and, indeed, attempts to identify such rumors in its pages. In addition, it was written after a great deal of discussion had taken place between its authors, who had time to think through and analyze their observations from the vantage point of their official duties.

"The Chronicle," Lucjan Dobroszycki tells us in his superb introduction, "seemed to have adopted the following principle: Since it is not possible to write about those who commit the crimes [because of the fear of discovery and punishment] we will speak of their victims, and in some detail."8 That detail is expressed in some of the most poignant, some of the most horrific description possible.

A few examples will suffice. The very first entry of 12 January 1941 reports on the "Paradoxes of Ghetto Life: An Eight-Year-Old Informer." The Chronicle tells us that the young boy appeared at one of the precincts of the Jewish Police (Order Service) and "filed a report against his own parents, whom he charged with not giving him the bread ration due him. The boy demanded that an investigation be conducted and that the guilty parties be charged."

A little over a month later, on 1 March, we are told of the case of Mirla Dancygier, who has petitioned Rumkowski to order a supplemental food allocation for her as she is 97 years old (the oldest person in the ghetto) and wishes to live to be 100. An investigation by the "Eldest of the Jews" into the "oldest of the Jews" reveals that she is only 79 years old.

On 28 June 1942, the Chronicle begins to understand the nature and boundaries of the Holocaust Kingdom: "The ghetto has not only become a labor camp, where there is no place for people who are not working, but also some sort of Nietzschean experimental laboratory from which only the 'very strong' emerge in one piece."

The fanaticism of the Nazi obsession with race is reflected in the entry of 21 October 1942: "Precinct VI of the German Police has inquired of the Chairman whether there are any Negroes or mulattoes in the ghetto. The Chairman (Rumkowski) is able to report that there are no Negroes in the ghetto."

Finally, on 22 April 1944, the desperate hunger and the nearly complete dehumanization in the ghetto are revealed, only months before its end:

As you approach the area from Drukarska Street or from the court yards of Limanowska Street, a choking, pestilential stench assaults your nose. Only a truly God-forsaken ghetto could stink like this.... A swarm of boys, armed with spades and picks, bowls and small sticks ... dig up the sand until they reach the garbage, and pull something out of the abominable filth. Horrified, I ask a boy: What are you doing, what are you looking for? We're digging for potatoes! I look at these potatoes in horror. Stinking, rotting remains from nearby kitchens.... And yet every tiny remnant is extracted with the fingers, carefully checked, and collected in a little sack or bowl. This is not simply hunger, this is the frenzy of degenerate animals, for the fruits of these hours of digging, the putrid, paltry dregs, will never compensate for the energy consumed. This is unbridled madness, a shame and a disgrace. This must not be, this cannot be.

What the Chronicle cannot tell us is the early history of the ghetto before 1941. It was quite clear that the fate of the Lodz ghetto and its inhabitants had been decided long before 8 February 1940, the day more than 160,000 Jews were officially herded into the most neglected northern districts of the city, Stare Miasto (the Old Town) and the unbelievably squalid Baluty (Balut). The latter district was so poor that Jews living in central Lodz, out of shame, often maintained little or no contact with their poverty-stricken relations in Balut.9 Within the official ghetto, whose circumference measured 11 kilometers, there were no sewers. Of the 31,000 apartments in the ghetto, only 725 had running water.10

The Nazi attitude toward the ghetto and its population was made crystal clear by SS Brigade Leader Friedrich Ubelhor, the Nazi chief of the Kalisz region of the Wartheland, the new name for the regions of Poland (including Lodz) that had been incorporated directly into the German Reich. On 10 December 1939, Ubelhor wrote, "I reserve the precise time, and the means, by which the Ghetto, and thereby the city of Lodz, will be cleared of Jews. In any case, our final aim (Endziel) must be to bum out this plague-hole."11

The Jews in the Lodz ghetto were given a clear indication of this aim. On 21 February 1941, the Chronicle carried a comment about an article that had appeared in the Litzmannstadter Zeitung, the official newspaper of "Aryan" Lodz (now renamed Litzmannstadt in honor of General Karl Litzmann, the German general killed in battle near Lodz in 1915). The newspaper was forbidden in the ghetto but was often smuggled in or left there by the German authorities. Among other things, the Chronicle reported, ". . . this article predicted that the quarter of the city in which the ghetto is located will, in the future, be turned into parks and gardens. . . . As to the Jews inhabiting the ghetto, the newspaper article notes that 'they will vanish from Litzmannstadt faster than they expect.' " The Chronicle downplayed the alarming news as newspaper information "spread in a distorted and exaggerated form."12

We now understand that the final aim of the Nazis vis-a-vis Lodz Jewry was intertwined with a specifically developed plan of territorial expansion (Lebensraum) and population transfers. The latter had been advocated in published format as early as 1912 by the rabid antisemite and leader of the Pan- German League, Heinrich Class. In his major work, If I Were the Kaiser, Class had advocated the evacuation and transfer of whole populations from territories conquered by Germany and their replacement by German settlers.13

This is precisely what began to happen as early as the autumn of 1939, when plans were introduced to resettle, in a four-month period, more than 300,000 people from the Wartheland, including 100,000 Jews. 14 The plan was halted essentially because Jewish labor was thought necessary for the German war effort. But the Lodz ghetto was always intended to be temporary.15

On 1 May 1940, the official date of the "closed" Lodz ghetto, more than 160,000 Jews became the total prisoners of their environment. Nearly 80,000 Lodz Jews had been resettled, had "escaped" to parts of Poland under Russian control, or left the city in some other way.

Among those Jews who had left Lodz were, in many respects, the "best and brightest" of the community. The upper class intelligentsia was able to escape, leaving a mostly lower middle class and utterly poverty-stricken Jewish community. From this remaining group emerged what the Warsaw ghetto diarist Abraham Levin described as "one of the results of the war ... the top people are on the bottom, and the vulgar ones on the top. . . ."16 The creation of the ghetto in Lodz, as in other Polish cities, had shattered prewar Jewish society. Now, as Philip Friedman observed, "shrewdness, audacity, indifference and physical strength," replaced money, professional or intellectual achievements as signs of an elevated social status.17 The Chronicle recorded this class upheaval when commenting upon a soup kitchen that had been created for former industrialists, bank directors, and artists, a sort of club for "people who once were something."18 The new Lodz "ghetto elite" consisted of numerous unsavory elements active in the prewar Jewish community. Many of them were part of the Order Service (Ortinungsdienst), the special Jewish Police, while others were part of a vast informants' system created by the German Gestapo. Among the most notorious was Salomon Hercberg, one of the "leading" figures of the Jewish ghetto administration, who was the prison commandant and later head of the Jewish police precinct in Marysin, an attractive suburb of Lodz that was incorporated into the ghetto. In 1942, Hercberg was arrested and found to possess three apartments in Marysin plus a tremendous amount of illegal foodstuffs and German currency. Before the war Hercberg had been a projectionist in a third-rate Lodz theater.19

Hercberg was not the worst. "One knows the ghetto elite at first glance" went the refrain from a popular Lodz ghetto song written by Moshe Sanek, "broad behinds, fat necks and heavy jowls."20 The Chronicle reported the presence of such an elite on more than one occasion.21 Yet even this peculiar stratum of ghetto society could not escape the inevitable. Dr. Oskar Rosenfeld noted this in his Chronicle entry of 9 July 1943: "The freshly attired girls ... bear the mark of constant anxiety." No one, he wrote, "escapes the nightmare of the ghetto."22

If a legitimate elite existed in the Lodz ghetto, it was made up of the approximately 20,000 Western European Jews from Germany, Austria, Czechoslovakia, and Luxembourg who were resettled in the ghetto in October and November of 1941. They were part of a group of at least 50,000 Jews deported from the Reich and the Bohemian Protectorate between 1939 and 1941.23 Ironically, over a quarter of a century earlier, at least that many German and Austrian Jews had come East to Poland as soldiers in the Imperial German and Austrian armies. At that time, a small but enthusiastic number of them had been greatly impressed by the religious fervor and cultural strength of the Ostjuden, and at least one, Franz Rosenzweig, had come back to Germany convinced that a similar fervor among German Jewry would lead to the religious and cultural regeneration of German Jewish life.24 But this was not the case in 1941. The upper middle class and mostly elderly merchants, doctors, lawyers, and academics who made up the Western European group were unable to adjust to a ghetto economy where the only valued participant was a skilled worker. Beyond this, the linguistic and cultural haughtiness of these Jews toward the Polish Jews was strongly evident. For their part, the Polish Jews resented the influx of such a relatively large addition to the ghetto population (over 13 percent). The presence of so many new bodies meant that the already cramped ghetto quarters, where in the autumn of 1941 the average was 5.8 people to a single room, would now have to house nearly 7 per room.25 It was ironic that many of the same German and Austrian Jews who had blamed the presence of Ostjuden in their respective homelands for the rise of antisernitism after 1918, were now accused by those same 0stjuden of creating the increasingly stringent measures of the German authorities against the ghetto inhabitants.

Perhaps the only Polish Jew who truly admired the Western European Jews was the ghetto's "dictator," Mordecai Chaim Rumkowski.26 A man of limited education, Rumkowski was in awe of such illustrious names as Wilhelm Caspari, Ernst Sondheim, and Jacob E. Spier, all internationally famous men of science. But even Rumkowski was put out by their utter sense of linguistic and cultural superiority. He also feared that he would lose his political power to a "Yekke" who was close to the German administration through language and culture.27


We have not yet discussed Rumkowski's image in the Chronicle because it was not an honest one. Like the entire public face of the Lodz ghetto, the pages of the Chronicle reflect only a positive image of Rumkowski's role as "king" of its Jews. Such a status was granted to Rumkowski by all the ghetto dwellers from the lowliest worker to the most pious rabbi.28 To maintain such a position was possible as long as Rumkowski was perceived to be all that stood between the ghetto and starvation, between the ghetto and something even more hideous than total hunger, something not quite imagined but associated with deportation from the ghetto.

Can we ever really know Mordecai Chaim Rumkowski? Can we ever really judge him? Isaiah Trunk in his important study of the Lodz ghetto cautioned that "it would be too simple if we saw in Rumkowski simply a despotic aristocrat or someone who sought to save himself at the expense of tens of thousands whom he had sent to their deaths."29 Yet history has judged Rumkowski precisely in this manner.

It is doubtful if Rumkowski would accept history's verdict of himself as a tool of the Nazis or as a maniacal megalomaniac. He never understood his actions or their consequences in the manner of a Jacob Gens, the "dictator" of the Vilna ghetto, who told his audience one day that if they survived the ghetto "you'll say 'we came out with a clear conscience,' but I, Jacob Gens, if I survive, I'll go out covered with filth, and blood will run from my hands."30

Rumkowski was rather the most blatant example of what Philip Friedman called the "pseudo-saviors" of the Polish ghettos.31 RUM_ kowski's mission went beyond saving the Jews of Lodz. He believed that he would ultimately lead the Jews of all lands to their own homeland and he would assume his position as "King" of all the Jews.32 The novelist Leslie Epstein has given us a vivid description of that belief in his wildly imaginative novel of the Lodz ghetto, King of the Jews. The scene takes place at the character 1. C. Trumpelman's (Rumkowski's) wedding in the ghetto.33 The Nazi Grundtripp comes with a message for Trumpelman. Adolf Hitler has sent a wedding gift: "All Jews of Poland, and later all Jews everywhere are to be settled on the Island of Madagascar." Trumpelman accepts: "On behalf of his people the Elder accepts the gift of the Jewish presence. We shall build a kingdom there to last a thousand years."34 Epstein's use of the phrase "a kingdom to last a thousand years" is employed by the author to equate Rumkowski with the image of another "pseudosavior," Adolf Hitler, who also imagined that his Third Reich would last for a millennium.

Perhaps now we can understand the role of Rumkowski's actions and of his three basic measures designed to save the Lodz ghetto: 1) a fully employed ghetto supplying the German war effort; 2) the need to save the best and the youngest of the ghetto population by handing over to the Nazis the nonproducers and the criminal elements; 3) the non-toleration of any resistance movement lest it harm the chances for survival.35

Rumkowski honestly believed that he could develop a policy of accommodation with the German authorities. This would allow him time until his own kingdom could be created. Indeed Rumkowski had been successful in the 1930s, when he had begun a movement toward a policy of accommodation with an increasingly antisernitic Polish government. No doubt Rumkowski believed at first that such a policy would work with the Germans, especially since the Nazi authorities did not interfere, in the early days of the ghetto, with his plans for social welfare and education.36 But obviously Rumkowski did not know his enemy. If he had understood what Jacob Gens understood, perhaps it might have been different. Gens told a young partisan in the Vilna ghetto that "the ghetto is a world alone, a special world. The ghetto is a death chamber which holds men, women and little children. The death sentence has already been pronounced but not yet carried out, and the final date is not known.,"37

Rumkowski did not know his enemy, but the enemy knew him. They knew he would give ten Jews to save one hundred, that he would give one hundred to save a thousand. Hence, the man who loved children, especially orphans, who studied with the saintly Janusz Korczak,, 38 could slap a child at the slightest provocation. The man who loved children could call upon the mothers of the Lodz ghetto to "give up your children [to the Nazis] and we will save the ghetto."39 Perhaps we can judge Mordecai Chaim Rumkowski. But could we do it so easily and condemn him the way one of his own ghetto "elite" allegedly did by throwing him alive into the burning pit of Auschwitz?40 Perhaps.


The Chronicle makes clear that Lodz was unlike any other ghetto. It was a totally enclosed world where the Nazis' ability to deceive the Jew reached unparalleled heights. It was a "hermetically" sealed enclosure with very little news either coming in or going out. There was no chance for escape, none for armed resistance. No contact was made with a mostly hostile Polish underground, and the Jews faced the additional threat on the "Aryan" side of 150,000 hostile Germans now living in Poland's most Nazified and Germanized city. One ghetto resident called it a Nazi-made "fortress."41

Outside of Rumkowski, who most likely knew of the killing grounds at Chelmno, to which Lodz Jewry was deported, the ghetto knew nothing of its fate. The Chronicle wrote uneasily on a number of occasions about certain mysterious events taking place in the ghetto: ". . . large shipments of baggage have been sent to the ghetto since May 25. The people of the ghetto are tremendously puzzled by the arrival of these shipments, which contain clothing of all sorts. . . ." (30-31 May 1942) "Since the end of May the ghetto has been receiving colossal amounts of clothing." (21 July 1942) Finally, on 25 September 1942, shortly after the great Nazi roundup and deportation, the Chronicle wrote in a frustrated tone that "absolutely nothing is known about the fate of any people resettled from this ghetto." Not until 22 June 1944 does the Chronicle begin to understand the fate of Lodz Jewry: "People generally suspect that a gradual liquidation of the ghetto is underway." This lack of any information about Chelmno is amazing, especially when one considers that the Vilna ghetto was quite aware of the killing area in the Ponary forest, where its deported Jews were executed.42 Even more amazing is the fact that the killing of the Lodz Jews in Chelmno was known in the Warsaw ghetto from the very beginning.43

In reading the relevant literature, one is struck more and more by the small, subtle references to the "Nazi-like" state of the Lodz ghetto. Solomon Bloom has written that the ghetto was "not precisely a Nazi state, but it resembled it in its autocracy, servility and corruption."44 Bendet Hershkovitch was impressed by how much Lodz and the entire ghetto system were a sort of reflection of Hitlerian Germany.45 And we have already referred to Leslie Epstein's comparison between Hitler and Rumkowski.46

These comments fit very well into the theory and argument of Jewish "compliance," which has remained the most controversial issue of the entire Holocaust period. Hannah Arendt and Raul Heiberg have made the term and the argument a well-known and much-debated one.47

Rumkowski's activities in the Lodz ghetto made him the model for such a compliance theory. What we can now understand is that Rumkowski's "savior" complex operated at the same time as the Nazi's twin aims of making financial profit from the ghetto economy and destroying its Jews. What Rumkowski understood as "autonomy," by which he meant the granting of economic, administrative, and judicial self-rule by the German authorities, was understood by the Nazis as a joint German-Jewish "partnership" for the destruction of Lodz Jewry.48

This becomes clear when we learn that the decision to turn the ghetto into a full-fledged work camp in the middle of 1942 was not based on any concern for the German war economy. It was simply the institution of a policy the Germans called Vernichtung durch Arbeit (extermination through work).49 Ultimately, "overwork and semi*starvation" would "dispose of this labor force automatically, and the monetary aim of exploitation would converge upon the initial aim of annihilation. The two ends would meet in one."50

The Nazi administrator of the ghetto, Hans Biebow, who made tremendous amounts of money from the ghetto and fought against its liquidation was, at the same time, fully involved in the deportations. He wrote that "everything which the Jews produce in the ghetto is, from the point of view of essential military supply, superfluous."51

I believe it is essential that we turn our attention away from Jewish "compliance" as a theory to this notion of "partnership." One can see it develop as early as 1938, when the Nazis presented the Jews of Germany with a bill for one billion Reichsmarks for the damages inflicted on Jewish properties during Kristallnacht. One sees the partnership again in Hilberg's new and revised edition of The Destruction of the European Jews, where it is made clear just how the Nazis were able to make the Jewish population pay for its own murder, how Jewish monies paid for the cost of transporting Jews to Auschwitz. We see it in the Lodz ghetto as Solomon Bloom explains:

German employees paid 0.70 Reichsmarks per day per slave to a special account of the German administration of the ghetto. It was from this account that the henchmen were paid for snatching other Jews for extermination. 52

Such a heinous evil as this "partnership" was not able to snuff out the decency and spiritual resistance of the Lodz ghetto, even though only about 10,000 Jews from pre-war Lodz survived the Holocaust. It is important to understand that the Chronicle itself was a symbol of resistance, and was able in one tremendously important entry to turn aside every effort of the Nazis to destroy the Jewish spirit. On 25 June 1944, the Chronicle noted that "everyone is losing a relative, a friend, a roommate, a colleague." "And yet," the Chronicle observed, "Jewish faith in a justice that will ultimately prevail does not permit extreme pessimism."53

This was the tragedy of the Lodz ghetto but also its triumph.


1. "Jewish Lodz," in Yiddish Lodz (Melbourne, 1974), p. 7.

2. J. Karsh, "Yiddish Lodz" (Jewish Lodz), ibid, p. 11. All subsequent translations from the Yiddish or German are mine.

3. Joseph Marcus, Social and Political History of the Jews in Poland 1919-1939 (Berlin, 1983), p. 113. Marcus estimates that on the eve of World War II, the Jewish share of the textile industry in Poland was at least 70 percent.

4. Emanuel Ringelblum, Notes from the Warsaw Ghetto (New York, 1974).

5. Kronika getta lodzkiego, 2 vols. (Lodz, 1965-66).

6. Mendel Grossman, With a Camera in the Ghetto (Tel Aviv, 1972).

7. The German authorities never discovered the existence of the Chronicle. It was hidden and recovered at the end of the war.

8. Chronicle, p. xviii.

9. For a vivid description of life in pre-war Balut see Israel Rabon, Balut (Warsaw, 1934) [Yiddish].

10. Chronicle, p. xxxiii.

11. Quoted in Solomon Bloom, "Dictator of the Lodz Ghetto," Commentary 7 (1949):120.

12. In the entry, the Chronicle played down all information, "whatever its source."

13. Daniel Frymann (pseud. for Heinrich Class), Wenn ich der Kaiser Wdr (Leipzig, 1912), pp. 142ff. The connection between this book and Mein Kampf has not been thoroughly explored. It is quite certain that Class knew Hitler and had political connections to him.

14. Chronicle, p. xxxiv.

15. Ibid., pp. xxxivff. The Nazi aim was to Germanize Lodz completely. Indeed by 1944 over 80,000 ethnic Germans (Volksdeutsche) from the Baltic regions, among others, had been resettled in Lodz. The city became, in Dobroszycki's words, "not only Germanized but Nazified like no other large city in occupied Europe."

16. Quoted in Philip Friedman, "Social Conflicts in the Ghetto," in Roads to Extinction: Essay on the Holocaust (New York and Philadelphia, 1980), p. 132.

17. Ibid., p. 150.

18. Chronicle, entry for 4 Mar. 1941.

19. Ibid., entry for "The Month of March 1942: Arrest and Resettlement of the Prison Commandant," p. 136.

20. Moshe Sanek, "Die Ghetto-Elite," in Joseph Wulf, Yiddische- Gedichte aus den Ghettos, 1939-1945 (Berlin, 1964), p. 37.

21. See the entries in the Chronicle for 6 Mar. 1941 and 25 July 1941. As late as the entry for 14 May 1943, a ghetto elite of "well-dressed people who are evidently able to pay ... high prices" was noted by the Chronicle.

22. Chronicle, entry "The Look of the Ghetto, June 1943," p. 357.

23. Isaiah Trunk, Judenrat: The Jewish Councils in Eastern Europe under Nazi Occupation (New York, 1972), p. 372.

24. For the German Jewish image of the East European Jew, see Steven E. Aschheim, Brothers and Strangers: The East European Jew in Germany and German Jewish Consciousness 1800-1923 (Madison, WI, 1982), especially the chapter entitled "The Cult of the Ostjuden."

25. Isaiah Trunk, Ghetto Lodz [Yiddish] (New York, 1962), p. 349.

26. This is not to deny that individual relationships existed between Polish and Western European Jews. The Chronicle authors maintained such a relationship, as did, for example, the Polish troubadour Jankele Hersz- kowicz and his partner, Karol Rozenzweig, of Vienna. Herszkowicz was the author of the popular and satirical ghetto song about Rumkowski. See Janusz Gumkowski and others, Briefe aus Litzmannstadt (Cologne, 1967), p. 123.

27. Trunk, Ghetto Lodz, p. 366.

28. Two German rabbis who were resettled to Lodz used rabbinic texts as proof in declaring "the historical role in the history of modern Jewry which has been granted Mordecai Chaim Rumkowski by the Almighty," quoted in Ellen Schiff "American Authors and Ghetto Kings: Challenges and Perplexities," in Holocaust Studies Annual 1 (Greenwood, FL., 1983): 13.

29. Trunk, Ghetto Lodz, p. 366.

30. Leonard Tushnet, The Pavement of Hell (New York, 1972), p. 169.

31. Philip Friedman, "Pseudo-Saviors in the Polish Ghettos: Mordecai Chaim Rumkowski of Lodz," in Roads to Extinction, p. 33.

32. Trunk, Ghetto Lodz, p. 372.

33. Rumkowski, a long-time widower, did marry a woman 30 years younger than himself, Regina Weinberger, an attorney, in December of 1941.

34. Leslie Epstein, King of the Jews (New York, 1979), pp. 131-32. Epstein's novel has upset any number of literary critics including Alvin Rosenfeld for its "reversion to farce" as the essential manner in which it seeks to represent the tragedy of Run-tkowski and the Lodz ghetto. See Alvin H. Rosenfeld, "The Holocaust as Entertainment," Midstream (Oct. 1979): 55-58. Yet the novel, according to this author at any rate, could be employed as a legitimate literary form in understanding the moral dilemmas created by the Holocaust as long as it was understood that the novel is not a legitimate historical source. See Irene C. Goldman, "King of the Jews Reconsidered," Midstream (Apr. 1986): 56-58. For an inter- esting discussion of the role played by historical novels in our under- standing of the past, see Thomas Fleming, "Inventing Our Probable Past," New York Times Book Review, 6 July 1986. Utimately, it seems one must understand that King of the Jews, as Ellen Schiff has pointed out, in its efforts to probe Rumkowski's role must ultimately face the reality that "Rumkowski was no fiction and the hard questions his role in Hitler's war against the Jews raises are not likely to find answers in art." Schiff, "American Authors and Ghetto Kings," p. 32.

35. Trunk, Ghetto Lodz, p. 367.

36. A. Wolf Jasny, History of the Jews in Lodz in the Years of the German Extermination of the Jews [Yiddish] (Tel Aviv, 1960), 1: 100.

37. Quoted in Tushnet, Pavement of Hell, p. 185.

38. Ibid., p. 6.

39. Quoted in Bloom, "Dictator of the Ghetto," p. 120.

40. In an article written for Commentary magazine, Michael Checinski alleged that Rumkowski, along with the Chief of the Jewish Police, Leon Rosenblat, were killed in this manner by an underworld figure named Moishe the Chasid. Michael Checinski, "How Rurnkowski Died," Com- mentary (May 1979): 63-65.

41. Israel Tabaksblat, Hurlm Lodz [Yiddish] (Buenos Aires, 1946), p. 31.

42. Tushnet, Pavement of Hell, pp. 194ff.

43. Chronicle, p. xxii.

44. Bloom, "Dictator of the Lodz Ghetto," p. 114.

45. Bendet Hershkovitch, "The Ghetto in Litzmannstadt (Lodz), "YIV0 Annual of Social Science 5 (1950): 89.

46. See n. 34.

47. See the intelligent and surprisingly comprehensive review of Hilberg's revised edition of The Destruction of the European Jews written by Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson, "Hilberg's Holocaust," Midstream (Apr. 1986): 51-55.

48. Friedman, "Pseudo-Saviours in the Polish Ghettos," p. 334.

49. Tushnet, Pavement of Hell, p. 164.

50. Bloom, "Dictator of the Lodz Ghetto," p. 120.

51. Friedman, "Pseudo-Saviours in the Polish Ghettos," p. 343.

52. Bloom, "Dictator of the Lodz Ghetto," p. 118.

53. It was the faith in a notion of prophetic justice that resurfaced in the Jewish displaced persons camps after the liberation and became an important ideological expression of survivorship. I discuss this in my article "The Lost Legacy of Holocaust Survivors," Shoah (Fall/Winter 1982-1983): 33-37.

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