Pianist, The - WARSAW GHETTO

This image, from the German Federal Archives, depicts a photograph taken by Albert Cusian on the 21st of June, 1941. We see Jewish people of the Warsaw Ghetto, specifically (as described in the archives): “Market at the intersection of Ksawery Lubecki street and Gęsia street. On the right wall of the Ghetto Central Jail so called Gęsiówka. White building on the left is at Wołyńska 27 street.” Bundesarchiv, Bild (picture) 101I-134-0780-38 / Cusian, Albert. License: CC-BY-SA 3.0


On Yom Kipper, in 1940, Warsaw’s Jews learned very disturbing news. On that day, the 12th of October, a new living arrangement was announced. All Jews would be forced to live within a "Jewish Quarter" of the city.

One month later, in November, the “Jewish Ghetto” was sealed off from the rest of Warsaw. A wall, more than ten feet high and topped with barbed wire, kept the Jews inside. All Poles living within the newly designated ghetto area had to leave.

No Warsaw Jew could have imagined the ghetto would become just the first step of a systematic plan of extermination. The Nazis established a Jewish Council (called the Judenrat) to administer the ghetto’s affairs. Members of the Judenrat, who often did the Nazis' bidding, were detested by the other ghetto residents.

It wasn’t just the Jews of Warsaw who were forced to live inside the ghetto’s walls. People from other towns were sent there as well. It is estimated that 500,000 people lived within the confined space.

Because food rations were grossly insufficient, very young children were homeless and the lack of proper clothing caused even greater hardship, smuggling in the ghetto  (especially by children who could slip under the ghetto walls) was a way of life. Despite the smuggling, people died of starvation.

A group of rabbis, writers, historians and teachers attempted to document life in the Warsaw ghetto. They stuffed their work (referred to as the “Ringelblum’s Archives”) inside metal boxes and three milk cans, then hid them in the cellars of various Warsaw buildings. Two of those milk cans were found after the war. The third remains buried somewhere.

Once half a million Jews were grouped together, it was easy for the Nazis to begin the process of “evacuating” or “resettling” them.

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Author: Carole D. Bos, J.D. 5190stories and lessons created

Original Release: Jan 01, 2003

Updated Last Revision: Jul 01, 2019

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"WARSAW GHETTO" AwesomeStories.com. Jan 01, 2003. Jan 18, 2020.
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