- Liquidated Ghetto
Piotrkow Trybunalski is the first ghetto created by the Nazis in occupied Poland. At first an "open" ghetto without a fence enclosing it, it is sealed in April 1942. Jews are subjected to forced labour in the ghetto. In September 1942, the total ghetto population reaches its peak with 25,000 people. In October 1942 mass deportations to the Treblinka killing centre take place; only 2,000 to 3,000 Jews remain to work in factories in the ghetto.
In1939, 235,000 Jews live in Lodz, making the second largest Jewish community in Europe. Following the German invasion, the 235,000 Jews of Lodz are given until the end of April 1940 to move into the ghetto. On April 30, 1940, 163,777 of them are enclosed in the ghetto renamed Litzmannstadt ghetto. In the first deportation Aktion, from December 1941 to May 1942, 57,064 people are deported to Chelmno to be killed. The second wave of deportation sends 15,682 children, elderly and infirm Jews to Chelmno. Most Jews left in the ghetto are forced labourers. In the final deportation in June and July 1944, 7,196 Jews are sent to Chelmno and 65,000 to Auschwitz. At the time of Liberation in January 1945, 877 people are still alive and hiding in the ghetto. An estimated 5,000 to 15,000 Lodz Jews survived the concentration camps.
By April 1941, 460,000 Jews live in the ghetto including, making it the largest ghetto in Europe. About a third of the ghetto inhabitants are children. From July to September 1942, 260,000 people are sent to the Treblinka killing centre. In response to a second wave of deportations, a first uprising is organized in January 1943. On April 19, 1943, 2,000 soldiers enter the ghetto with tanks. Jewish fighters attack them and the Warsaw ghetto uprising lasts until May 16, 1943. 7,000 Jews are killed during the uprising. 7,000 more people are deported to the Treblinka killing centre and about 42,000 to Majdanek. In September 1943, the Germans destroy the remaining buildings and the ghetto walls.
On the eve of the War, 56,000 Jews lived in Krakow, a fourth of the city’s population. By November 1939, they are 70,000, with Jews having been deported from the Wartheland or having fled the countryside. 55,000 people are expelled to the countryside in May 1940. In March 1941, the 15,000 to 20,000 remaining Jews in Krakow are forced into the Krakow ghetto. Factories are created inside the ghetto and Jews are subjected to forced labour. Among the factories is the Deutsche Emalwarenfabrik, owned by Oskar Schindler, which will later be moved to the Plaszow labour camp. The ghetto is liquidated between June 1942 and March 1943, with most of its inhabitants sent to Belzec killing centre, Auschwitz concentration camp and Plaszow labour camp.
Two months after the establishment of the Lublin ghetto, a serious typhus epidemics break out. By December 1941, 1,000 Jews are sick with typhus and hospitals are overflowing. Initially, the ghetto was an open ghetto, but in February 1942, a new section - section B - is added to the ghetto and separated from section A by barbed wire. In March 1942, deportations to the Belzec killing centre begin, where 25,000 Jews from Lublin are murdered. In September 1942, 1,000 Jews are sent to the Majdanek concentration camp. In November 1942, the final liquidation of the ghetto starts and all the remaining ghetto inhabitants are sent to Majdanek.
The Kovno (or Kaunas) ghetto is established in July 1941, and sealed off in August. 29,000 Jews are forced to live there. In October 1941, authorities kill about half of the ghetto population. In the fall of 1943, the SS take charge of the ghetto and transform it into the concentration camp of Kauen. 2,900 people deemed unfit to work are sent to Auschwitz. In July 1944, the Germans evacuate the Kauen camp, and all remaining Jews are sent to Dachau.
Before the war, Minsk is a predominantly Jewish city and Yiddish is one of its four official languages. On July 19, 1941 an order is given to establish a ghetto in town and 80,000 Jews are forced into the ghetto. In November 1941 a separate section of the ghetto is established for Jews deported from Germany, Austria and Czech republic; up to 35,000 Jews live there. Between July 1941 and October 1943, ghetto inhabitants are deported to the Sobibor killing centre. In addition, 35,000 people are killed inside the ghetto during various pogrom and killing operations using gas vans. In the summer of 1942, the Germans establish a killing centre in Maly Trostinets, just outside of the city, where thousands are shot or gassed in vans. The ghetto inhabitants start organizing resistance activities as early as August 1941, and work closely with the Communist underground. An estimated 10,000 Jews managed to escape from the ghetto.
The Riga ghetto is established in August 1941 and 29,600 Jews are forced to live there. In November 1941, 11,000 Jews are murdered in the ghetto and 14,000 the following month. The remaining part of the ghetto is gradually filled with foreign Jews. About 22,000 German, Austrian and Czech Jews are deported to Riga between the Fall of 1941 and mid-1942. In the Spring of 1942, German Jews are the target of a killing Aktion, and about 2,000 of them are murdered. The liquidation of the ghetto occurs in 1943, when 9,000 inmates are gradually transferred to the Kaiserwald concentration camp. In November 1943, the 2,600 remaining Jews of the Riga ghetto are sent to Auschwitz.
In June 1941, when the Germans enter Vilna, there are 60,000 Jews in the city. 10,000 Jews are shot by the Einsatzgruppen on July 9, 1941 in Ponary, near Vilna. In September 1941, 40,000 Jews are concentrated in two ghettos in Vilna. People deemed unable to work are concentrated in ghetto number 2; most of them are women and children who are killed in October 1941 by German Einsatzgruppen and their Lithuanian collaborators. The Jews in ghetto number 1 are forced to work in factories or on construction projects outside the ghetto. In periodic killing operations, most of the ghetto's inhabitants are massacred at Ponary, outside the city of Vilna. The mass killings stop between the Spring of 1942 and the Spring of 1943. In early September 1943, when the Germans enter the ghetto to prepare for the final deportations, resistance members attack the soldiers. However, the Jewish council, hoping to minimize the bloodshed, agrees to cooperate. The resistance fighters flee to the forest and join the partisans. Later that month, the ghetto’s children, the elderly, and the sick are deported to the Sobibor killing centre or are shot at Ponary. The men are sent to labour camps in Estonia, while the women are sent to labour camps in Latvia.
The Germans create the Theresienstadt ghetto in the fortress city of Terezin. The ghetto functioned as a transit camp for Jews on their way to the killing centres and labour camps in the East. At the Wannsee Conference, it is decided that Theresienstadt would become the ghetto for Austrian and German Jews. In 1943, Jews from the Netherlands and Denmark are also sent to Theresienstadt. The ghetto reaches its peak in September 1942, with 58,491 inmates. In the spring of 1943, the Nazis seek to exploit the Theresienstadt ghetto for propaganda, launching a beautification campaign and inviting representatives of the Danish and International Red Cross to visit this “model” camp in June 1944. The Red army reaches Theresienstadt in May 1945, when most of the German officers had already fled the ghetto. 35,000 people died in the ghetto, while another 83,000 were killed following their deportations.
Smolensk is the largest ghetto in the occupied territories of the Russian Federation; operating for almost a year, it is the region’s longest lasting ghetto. The ghetto is established in July 1941. In November of the same year, 1,200 Jews are selected and shot. During the summer of 1942, 1,200 to 2,000 Jews are shot during different Aktions. The city is liberated in September 1943.
In June 1944, the Hungarian authorities order the Jews of Budapest into over 2,000 “Jewish houses” scattered throughout the city. At the same time, 25,000 Jews from the suburbs of Budapest are deported to Auschwitz-Birkenau to be killed. In July 1944, the Hungarian authorities suspend the deportations, sparing the remaining Jews of Budapest. Jews then look for hiding places or for protection in safe houses organized by Swedish diplomat Raoul Wallenberg and other foreign diplomats. In October 1944, following a coup orchestrated by Germany, a new government led by the fascist Arrow Cross is put in power. The remaining Jews of Budapest are again in immediate danger. Hundreds are shot in the city while others are drafted for forced labour. In November, 70,000 Jews are forced into a march towards concentration camps in Austria; thousands of them are shot and thousands more die as a result of starvation or exposure. In the meantime, the remaining Jews of Budapest are forced into a closed ghetto. Between December 1944 and the end of January 1945, the 20,000 Jews of the ghetto are shot, their bodies thrown in the Danube river. When the Soviet forces liberate Budapest on February 13, 1945; there are about 100,000 Jews remaining in the city most of them under the protection of foreign diplomats.