Categories 1940

The Jewish ghetto is established in Warsaw

Transport only for Jews
‘Only for Jews’ : the segregation and persecution of the Jews in Poland had continued incrementally since the beginning of the German occupation. Now there was a step change, with the establishment of a separate Jewish ghetto.

A separate ghetto for Jews in Warsaw was formally announced on the 12th October. The second largest Jewish community in the world (after New York), comprising over a third of the population of Warsaw were to be crammed into a tiny area in the poorest part of the city.

Chaim Kaplan describes the process of establishing the ghetto. Separate living areas for Jews were created at different times at different locations around Poland. Usually the Germans required the local Jewish council or ‘Judenrat’ to undertake the arrangements. In Warsaw substantial numbers of ordinary Poles had to move out of the area designated for the Jews:

October 22, 1940

The creation of the ghetto is accompanied by such severe birth pangs that they are beyond description.

When it came time to carry out the ghetto order, everything became chaotic. The Polish side began to haggle—in this suburb they have a church; another is mainly inhabited by Aryans; here is a beautiful school building; there is a factory employing thousands of Aryan workers. How can the rightful owners be driven from all these places? Thus they excised piece after piece, street after street, of the Jewish area, and the boundaries of the ghetto grew more and more constricted.

Several days ago the Judenrat furnished a questionnaire to all the courtyard committees in which they were asked to give detailed replies to questions about the number of apartments, the number of rooms in each apartment, the number of tenants, and the prices of apartments. On the basis of this information they will confiscate vacant rooms and settle homeless people in them.

How many people will be assigned to each room? Some say four, some say six. And so the people are hurriedly renting out rooms to tenants of their own choice. Incidentally, they are raising the rents sky-high. They are afraid that the Judenrat will match them up with the wrong people and make them stick to the prescribed rents, so they are hurrying to beat the Judenrat to the draw.

See The Scroll of Agony: The Warsaw Diary of Chaim A. Kaplan.

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