Documents Pertaining to the Łódź Ghetto
Scope and Content Note
This collection contains documents and ephemera items that pertain to the Łódź Ghetto and the city of Łódź in general. These include eyewitness accounts, such as the Yiddish diaries of Bund representative Yankl (Jacob) Nirenberg, of Jakub Hiller, who described daily life in the ghetto, of Rachmiel Weinberg, and various other memoirs, some written during the war and some written afterwards. There are also official documents produced by the German occupying government, announcements from Mordechai Chaim Rumkowski and the ghetto administration, and bulletins, announcements and appeals, some of which relate to resistance efforts. There are also many photographs of the Paper Products Resort (workshop) as well as of individuals and scenes from the ghetto.
Ephemera items include an armband of the Foreman of the Paper Products Workshop, ghetto money, food stamps, work permits, and a birthday plaque made for Rumkowski. There are newspaper clippings and post-war articles about the Łódź Ghetto and the pre-war Łódź Jewish community, internal ghetto correspondence as well as some post-war correspondence, and materials relating to the family of David and Mordechai Bajgelman (Beigelman). Some of the underground and unofficial materials may have originated with the Bund organization within the ghetto.
- 1940-1995, 2008, 2013
- Majority of material found within 1940-1947
Language of Materials
The collection is in Yiddish, German and Polish, with some English and Hebrew.
The collection is open to the public. Permission to publish part or parts of the collection must be obtained in writing from the YIVO Archives.
There may be some restrictions on the use of the collection. For more information, contact:
YIVO Archives, YIVO Institute for Jewish Research, Center for Jewish History, 15 West 16th Street, New York, NY 10011
On February 8, 1940, the German occupiers of Poland created a ghetto for Jews in the city of Łódź, which they had annexed directly to the German state and renamed Litzmannstadt. Just over 200,000 Jews were confined there over the course of the war, including around 40,000 Jews absorbed from Germany and Central Europe, making it the second-largest ghetto, after the Warsaw Ghetto. The ghetto was a major industrial center, manufacturing much-needed supplies for Nazi Germany and for the German Army.
The German authorities established an Aeltestenrat (Council of Elders) to maintain order in the ghetto. The Judenaelteste, or Eldest of the Jews, Mordechai Chaim Rumkowski, who was the head of the Aeltestenrat, is still considered quite controversial. Rumkowski was convinced that the ghetto could only survive if the inhabitants worked for the Nazis, kept up the level of manufacturing goods for Germany and did not openly resist the Nazi forces. Thus he pushed almost the entire ghetto population to work long hours in over 100 “resorts” or workshops, producing clothing, woodwork and metalwork items, paper items, and electrical equipment for the German military. In addition, he quelled potential disturbances and deported anyone who might have had the capacity to lead any sort of resistance to the Nazis.
While there were periodic deportations of ghetto residents to concentration camps, due to its productivity, Łódź was the last ghetto to be liquidated, in August 1944. About 1200 Łódź ghetto residents survived Auschwitz and Chelmno and 877 survived in hiding in the ghetto itself, having been left behind to clean up in advance of the Soviets, who liberated Łódź on January 19, 1945.
1.5 Linear Feet
3 Manuscript Boxes
1 Manuscript Boxes (Oversized items were removed to one oversized box.)
This collection contains various materials related to the Łódź Ghetto which were originally part of the Bund Archives. Materials include memoirs and eyewitness accounts, materials created by the German occupiers, notices from the ghetto administration, documents originating with resistance groups, photographs, post-war articles and newspaper clippings about the Łódź Ghetto, internal ghetto correspondence, and various ephemera items, such as an armband, ghetto money and various work permits.
Markus Nowogrodzki created a folder list in which he labeled the materials according to document type or subject although he left the files unarranged. The materials have been arranged according to these original labels as well as some additional labels, which were created for clarification. The collection has been divided into seven series by document type or topic.
- Series I: Memoirs, 1943-1947, 1970, 1995, 2013, undated
- Series II: Photographs, 1959, undated
- Series III: Official German Documents, 1944, undated
- Series IV: Decrees Issued by the Ghetto Administration, 1940-1944
- Series V: Items Relating to the Bajgelman Family, 1940-1956, undated
- Series VI: Resistance Records, 1940-1941, undated
- Series VII: Newspaper Clippings and Writings, 1943-1991, 2008
The Bund Archives of the Jewish Labor Movement transferred its records to YIVO in 1992. Materials related to the Łódź Ghetto were culled from the larger Bund Archives collection and brought together, with later accessions pertaining to the Łódź Ghetto added as they arrived at the YIVO Archives.
All materials found in this collection were digitized and made openly accessible online with the following exceptions: (1) The clippings in folders 8 and 41-43 are only available onsite. (2) Materials in folders 13-14 and 44-48 were not digitized because they are publications under copyright accessible elsewhere. (3) For Series II (folders 16-22), only one instance of each photograph and the most comprehensive caption for each photograph were digitized.
There is no information about materials that are associated by provenance to the described materials that have been physically separated or removed.
Originally described by Markus Nowogrodzki in 2008. Additional processing by Rachel S. Harrison in November 2013, made possible by the Cataloging Hidden Special Collections and Archives Grant from the Council on Library and Information Resources through the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to support "Illuminating Hidden Collections at the Center for Jewish History."
- Beigelman, David, 1887-1945
- Beigelman, Mordechai David
- Clippings (information artifacts)
- Holocaust, Jewish (1939-1945) -- Poland
- Jewish ghettos
- Manuscripts (documents)
- Maps (documents)
- Minutes (administrative records)
- Ogólny Żydowski Związek Robotniczy "Bund" w Polsce
- Paper money
- Publications (documents)
- Rumkowski, Mordecai Ḥayim
- World War, 1939-1945 -- Jews -- Rescue
- World War, 1939-1945 -- Underground movements
- YIVO Archives
- Łódź (Poland)
- Guide to the Documents Pertaining to the Łódź Ghetto 1940-1995, 2008, 2013 (bulk 1940-1947) RG 1482
- Processed by Rachel S. Harrison in 2013
- Language of description
- Script of description
- Language of description note
- Description is in English.
- Processing made possible by the Cataloging Hidden Special Collections and Archives Grant from the Council on Library and Information Resources through the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to support "Illuminating Hidden Collections at the Center for Jewish History." Digitization made possible by the Conference for Jewish Material Claims Against Germany.
- May 2015: digitization information added by Leanora Lange.