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"The Final Solution"

Deportation to the death camp

The German invasion of the Soviet Union in June 1941 had its effect on the fate of the inhabitants of the Łódź ghetto. The decision of Berlin authorities to deport Jews from the Reich and the Protectorate to the Wartheland influenced the fate of thousands of ghetto inhabitants. Arthur Greiser, Gauleiter of Wartheland, thought that the resettlement of such a large group would reduce the capacity of the ghetto and demanded that his superiors consented to the extermination of all Wartheland Jews deemed unfit for work. From September 1941, groups of deportees from the Wartheland, the Reich, and the Protectorate came to the ghetto. In October and at the beginning of November 1941, nearly 20,000 people from Vienna, Prague, Berlin, Cologne, Emden, Düsseldorf, Frankfurt am Mein, Hamburg, and Luxembourg, were deported to the ghetto.

At the beginning of 1941, the first death centre was established in Chełmno-on-Ner (called Kulmhof in German), and the extermination of Jews deemed ‘unfit for work’ immediately started. The first groups falling into this category left the Litzmannstadt Ghetto as early as in January 1942. Until the end of July of that year, over 55,000 ghetto inhabitants were taken out of the ghetto and murdered. They were replaced with people from gradually liquidated provincial ghettos in the Wartheland. The largest deportation action, the so-called Allgemaine Gehsperre, took place at the beginning of September 1942. Over less than two weeks, from September 1 to 12, at least 15,700 people were taken to death.

After the September action, the ghetto, in fact, became a labour camp since nearly all its inhabitants were employed in production plants working for the German war economy. In consequence, many manifestations of apparent autonomy were gone and the administrative apparatus was restructured: for example, educational and health care systems were liquidated. Also the position of the Head of the Jewish Council of Elders was weakened, he no longer managed food rations, and some rivals for power appeared, including Dawid Gertler from the Special Unit of the Jewish police, the so-called Sonderabteilung, and Aron Jakubowicz from the Central Office of Labour Departments. 

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