30-40 Lodz Jews Executed Every Thursday to Ease Prison Crowding
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30-40 Lodz Jews Executed Every Thursday to Ease Prison Crowding

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Between 30 and 40 Jews are executed every Thursday by the Nazis in Lodz, largest Reich-annexed city in Poland, it was reliably learned here today. The executions, designed to make room in the inhumanly overcrowded jails for more prisoners, are carried out in the small Lodz suburb of Beldow.

The victims are selected almost at random by the Gestapo, Nazi secret police. Their places in the jails are rapidly filled by further arrests among both Jews and Poles. As a consequence, Thursday has become a “day of terror” for Lodz Jews having relatives or friends under arrest.

The city’s prisons are packed with thousands of men, women and children, many of whom had been arrested on the slightest pretext. The Jewish communities in Lodz and the neighboring districts present a curious appearance because of the almost complete absence of men between the ages of 16 and 50. The greater part of the male Jewish population in this age group is in prison.

Many of the prisoners were arrested on flimsy charges or entirely without grounds. On one day in February, no fewer than 80 Jewish women were seized while walking on Piotrokowska street, the main Lodz thoroughfare.

As a result of this policy, the prisons are inhumanly overcrowded and the prisoners exist under frightful health and sanitary conditions. Three large prisons, on Kilinski, Kopernika and Sterkin streets, have separate sections for Jews and Poles, although both groups are treated with equal brutality. Conditions in the Jewish sections are indescribable. Fifteen persons are jammed into cells built for two or three. They must take turns lying down or sitting.

With complete lack of sanitary facilities, the cells are vermin-infested and each cell daily yields a quota of two or three typhoid victims to the city’s overcrowded hospitals. The prisons also have separate sections for Jewish women and children, and these too are overcrowded to the same extent. Many of the children prisoners are 11 to 14 years old.

According to detailed information reaching here, there is a sharp difference in the situation of the Jewish population in the Government-General, or rump Poland, and the Reich-annexed territories. Although ruthless, sadistic persecution aiming at complete annihilation of the Jews is a common feature of both parts, the methods differ.

In the Lodz territory and the Silesia, Pomerania and Posen districts, the aim is achieved by driving the Jews from their homes and crushing them into dirty, overcrowded ghettos. A deliberate starvation policy is accomplishing the Nazi goal in the Government-General. In this territory, which embraces the Warsaw, Cracow and Lublin regions, there is generally an acute food shortage, with prices rising daily.

Jews find it impossible to obtain food at any price, since it has become impossible for them to get the new bank notes from the State banks. When they appear before the banks to exchange old currency for the new they are driven from the long lines. The currency shortage throughout the Government-General has resulted in almost complete cessation of private property sale, which was a possible means for Jews to obtain money for food.

Jews still having some cash are little better off since they are not permitted to approach peasant carts supplying foodstuffs. The rule enforced by the Nazis in this connection is–first “Volksdeutsche” (Germans) and then, if there is anything left, other non-Jews.

While there is no such food shortage in the annexed districts, the supplies are strictly rationed and the Jews, herded into the ghettos, are excluded from the rationing system.

Segregation of the Jews into ghettos is being carried out with the most brutal and ruthless methods, particularly in Lodz. The entire Lodz Jewish community, which numbered 200,000 before the war, was ordered to move into the poorest slum quarter in the city, the Baluti district, from which Germans and Poles had been evacuated. According to Jewish community leaders, one room is available in the Baluti quarter for every three Jewish families. The leaders were warned that they must evacuate 1,500 Jews daily to the ghetto.

The Jews, in moving, are forbidden to take their furniture or bedclothes and may take with them only small bundles of clothing. The evacuation proceeds from street to street. Jewish occupied houses outside the Baluti quarter are marked by special yellow signs.

Transfer of the Poles from the Baluti quarter was accomplished with no less brutal methods. The districts being evacuated by the Jews will be occupied by Baltic Germans who are being brought in to give the annexed territories a predominantly German character.

Meanwhile, Warsaw advices report that the Jews in the former Polish capital continue to be harassed by Gestapo agents who search their homes on the pretext of looking for concealed jewelry and foreign currency. During the searches, the inhabitants, including women and children, are forced to strip and the searches are carried out with shameful brutality and disregard of decency.

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