Learn about Lodz
Map and Timeline
Lodz, Poland, was a flourishing industrial city in the mid-1800s with a successful textile sector and a mixture of Polish, German, Czech and Jewish inhabitants. Before World War II, a third of the population of 672,000 was Jewish. Lodz's Jewish residents played a significant role in the economic and cultural life of the city.
In 1939, after WWII began, the German Army invaded Lodz and later renamed it "Litzmannstadt." As the Nazi regime terrorized the city and destroyed Polish monuments, Catholic churches and Jewish synagogues, many members of the Jewish population fled to other European countries. In early 1940, the Nazis rounded up more than 160,000 of the remaining Jews - including Henryk Ross - and forced them into the Lodz Ghetto. The Nazis then isolated the Lodz Jews from the rest of the world using barbed wire, sentry booths and a German police patrol.
The ghetto was an area of less than 4.13 square kilometres situated in the poorest part of the city. The conditions in the Lodz Ghetto were atrocious from the start, and steadily deteriorated until the summer of 1944, when the Nazis sent most of the remaining residents to death camps.
September 1: Germany invades Poland. World War II begins.
September 8: The Germany Army enters Lodz, followed by the Nazi security police.
September 18 - 21: Jewish holidays are banned in synagogues. Financial transactions by Jews are limited. Poles and Jews are rounded up for German labour camps. An announcement is made that a Jewish Council will carry out German regulations in the ghetto.
October 13: Mordechai Chaim Rumkowski is appointed by the Nazi administration to the Jewish Council, in the position of Elder of the Jews.
October 18 - 31: The Nazis expropriate Jewish property. Jews are restricted from trading in leather and textile goods. Jewish trade professionals stage failed boycotts. Jewish unions and economic groups are liquidated. Jews are recruited for labour. On October 28, Heinrich Himmler, Commissioner for the Consolidation of German Nationhood, visits Lodz.
November 9: Lodz is officially included in the German Reich, under the authority of Nazi high official Arthur Greiser. Nazis carry out brutality against Poles and Jewish intelligentsia. Artists, journalists and performers are arrested.
November 10: Polish monuments are destroyed and four synagogues are left in ruins (one small synagogue survives).
December 10: Memorandum: Friedrich Uebelhoer, Governor of the Kalisz-Lodz district and "Jewish Affairs," issues the first memorandum on the establishment of a "Ghetto in the City of Lodz." He concludes that the ghetto is "only a temporary measure. I reserve the right to decide when and how the City of Lodz is to be purged of Jews."
December 11: Greiser decrees that Jews are to be identified with a yellow Star of David on the fronts and backs of their clothing. Public transport use is restricted.
March 15: A postal service is established in the ghetto.
April 11: Lodz is officially renamed "Litzmannstadt," after the general who captured Lodz in World War I. Rumkowski establishes a Jewish police force of 250 officers in response to orders from the Mayor of Lodz. Eventually, more than 1,100 police officers are employed to curb black-market trading and theft and to fulfil deportation quotas. The German secret police occupies an office inside the ghetto.
April 30: The ghetto is sealed off with barbed wires, barricades and German sentry booths.
May 5: Hans Biebow is appointed head of the ghetto's German administration, and sets goals for the ghetto to function as a labour camp.
May 19 - 28: Police presence is increased in the ghetto. The German police and crime police suppress strikes and disobedience, and are given the authority to shoot without warning.
June 12 - 29: A census records 160,320 residents in the ghetto, which occupies 4.13 square kilometres. Special ghetto money, called "rumki" or "chaimki" notes, is introduced. It becomes the only valid currency in the ghetto.
October 1: A Central Office for Labour is established in the ghetto to oversee factories and workshops that produce clothing, shoes, textiles and metal for the German market.
October 20: The Central Prison is established on Czarniecki Street.
November 17: Rumkowski establishes an archive, which holds documents and photographs. The Chronicle of the Lodz Ghetto survives as the most authoritative source about life in the ghetto.
December 30: Food coupons are introduced. The death rate increases due to starvation.
March 7: The first issue of the newspaper Getto Cajtung appears. Between now and September, 18 issues are published.
May - June 7: The ghetto area is reduced to 3.82 square kilometres. Himmler pays a visit to the Tailoring Department.
September 21 - October 17: Trams are introduced in the ghetto. A total of 19,954 Jews arrive from Western Europe. They are settled in empty school buildings.
November 5 - December 7: A transport of Austrian Roma arrives, and nearly 4,500 are segregated into a separate ghetto area. Jews from liquidated ghettos in German provinces arrive. The killing facility in Chelmno nad Nerem, 70 kilometres from Lodz, is activated.
December 16: The Germans inform Rumkowski that 20,000 people are to be deported from the ghetto.
January 5 - May 15: Deportation begins, with 4,500 Roma sent to Chelmno. Subsequently, 52,304 Jews board freight trains at the Radogoszcz station and are sent to be killed in gas vans at Chelmno.
June 1: Rumkowski orders Jews to shave off their beards and shorten their coats, which the Nazis consider offensive.
September 4: Rumkowski delivers a speech to the parents of the ghetto, imploring them to give up their children for "resettlement."
September 5: A curfew begins in the ghetto. Residents are forbidden from leaving their premises, which are searched by Jewish and German police officers. The police round up the elderly, the ill and children under the age of 10, who are considered "unproductive." By September 12, a total of 15,681 persons, including 5,862 children, have been exterminated at Chelmno.
October 1 - December: The ghetto numbers 89,446 residents. Labour in the ghetto is accelerated, and members of the German Ghetto Board begin to supervise production. Relative calm sets in, and two hospitals are opened due to outbreaks of typhoid, typhus and tuberculosis. Many residents die from starvation and disease, and in public executions.
Adolf Eichmann visits the ghetto. Factories and workshops continue to produce goods for the German Reich. Food remains scarce. About a 1,000 residents are sent to labour camps in Germany.
March 4 - 10: About 1,600 residents are deported to work for plants.
June 10: Himmler orders the liquidation of the Lodz Ghetto.
June 23 - July 17: 7,196 residents are sent on the last transport to Chelmno. Subsequently, evidence of the killing facility is destroyed.
August 1 - 29: About 70,000 residents are deported from the Lodz Ghetto to Auschwitz. Rumkowski and his family are carried in a special wagon. Most people are sent directly to the gas chambers or to labour camps. A small number of Lodz Ghetto inhabitants survive their time in Auschwitz.
September: Biebow sends more than 1,000 residents to a concentration camp near Berlin, and holds back about 900 people to clean up the ghetto and gather all property from the empty buildings. These residents are to be executed after they finish their work.
January 15: The Russian Red Army enters the Lodz Ghetto and liberates its inhabitants. Many Jews had gone into hiding when the deportations began. A total of 877 are officially recorded as survivors.