The Jewish Ghetto in the town of Lodz, now renamed Litzmannstadt, was one of he earliest established by the Germans. Ruthless violence had been used to to get the Jews to move into the Ghetto area and now Poles living in the area were forced out. By the end of the month Jews would be prevented from leaving the Ghetto and it would be effectively sealed off from the outside world. The 164,000 Jews living in the Ghetto found themselves living in a virtually autonomous area, albeit totally dependent on the Germans for food and other supplies.
The Germans had appointed Mordechai Chaim Rumkowski to be the ‘Eldest of the Jews’ in October 1939 and would only communicate through him. He was to become increasingly powerful within the Ghetto as a consequence. He believed that he could negotiate with the Germans to some extent, and sought to promote the inhabitants of the Ghetto as a valuable workforce for the Germans.