What was the ghetto in Lodz like during the Holocaust?

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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I think that the life in Lodz was similar in many respects to other ghetto settlements that the Nazis created.  The repression of political, economic, and social rights of the Jewish people were present there, as they were in other similar ghetto settlements.  Additionally, the same struggles of starvation and disease were present.  Jewish people who came from different narratives and different points were all thrown into the same predicament, hoping for absolution while confronting death and humiliation in such a wait. 

I would suggest that one significant difference in the life of the Lodz ghetto that might differentiate it from other ghetto settlements would be the large level of industrialization that was evident in Lodz.  Coming from the organization of Mordechai Chaim Rumkowski, Lodz was able to survive longer than most other examples of the Jewish ghetto created by the Nazis because of its large level of production by those who were living there for the benefit of the Nazis.  Rumkowski took Auschwitz's motto of "Work sets you free" to heart, convincing the Nazis that if Jewish people in Lodz could work and produce more for the Nazi benefit, this would prove them as useful and deter them from being "selected" for "preferential treatment."  I think that Rumkowski's desire to create Lodz as a work center is something that makes the Lodz ghetto different from most.  It also helps to bring out the moral or ethical question of whether Rumkowski's actions were cannibalistic in their benefit to the Nazis or pragmatic in seeking to bring some level of benefit to a group of people who were enduring a reality where there was no benefit.  The debate about Rumkowski's role in his construction of life in Lodz is yet one more example of the moral or ethical lessons in and from the Holocaust.


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