Chaim Mordechaj Rumkowski
Social isolation, deepened by the obligation to wear yellow patches, was only an introduction to the physical isolation of Jews. The initial plans to deport all Łódź Jews from the city incorporated into the Third Reich turned out to be infeasible, which is why the German authorities started considering the idea of physical isolation of the Łódź Jews in a closed quarter established for this purpose. The first information about the idea to separate the Łódź Jews appeared in a circular of the district president Friedrich Uebelhoer of December 10, 1939. According to the circular, this solution was supposed to be temporary, adopted until it was possible to evacuate all Jews from the city. The project was accepted by the highest authorities of the Third Reich on February 8, 1940, and the police president Johannes Schäfer issued an order pursuant to which all Jews living in Łódź were to move to the area of the closed quarter established in the Old Town and Bałuty districts. Until the end of April 1940, all Łódź Jews living outside this area moved to the ghetto. People were relocated in bitter winter in the atmosphere of terror. Initially, everything went according to schedule but later it took the form of panic-stricken flight in fear of one’s life, with people attempting to save the rest of their belongings.
The ghetto was closed on April 30, 1940. No one could leave it. Schupo (security police) stations were located along the wood and barbed wire fence. Their task was to ensure that no one left the closed quarter. The ghetto was managed by the German administration of the city, which came under the Oberbürgermeister of Łódź (renamed Litzmannstadt on April 11, 1940), through Ernährungs- und Wirtschaftsstelle Getto, a unit established for this purpose, which in the autumn of 1940 became an independent section of the city administration called the Ghetto Administration (Gettoverwaltung). A trader from Bremen Hans Biebow was appointed its chief. The Ghetto Administration had considerable power, including issues connected with ghetto supplies, starting and increasing production, and using the potential of all plants and workshops (the so-called labour departments). A significant field of its operation was the plunder of the ghetto prisoners’ possessions. Gettoverwaltung competed in this respect with other German institutions, mostly the Gestapo and the criminal police (Kripo). The whole Jewish ghetto administration came directly under the Ghetto Administration.