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The Lódz Ghetto Work Identification Cards

Introduction By Roni Seibel Liebowitz

· Background
· Database
· Acknowledgements
· Searching the Database

Background

Work in the Lódz Ghetto

The Lódz Ghetto was created in February 1940 and sealed off from the rest of the world from May 1940 until its liquidation at the end of August 1944.  Initially inhabitants survived by selling whatever they could in exchange for food, clothing, and other necessities.  At the outset, some inhabitants received packages from relatives and friends on the outside, but these were often pilfered and eventually stopped arriving altogether.  For a while the appointed chairman of the ghetto, Mordechai Chaim Rumkowski, succeeded in making the ghetto indispensable to the Nazi war machinery by establishing a huge work force that would serve the German war effort and thus ensure the residents' survival.

Work became the gold currency.  Without a labor force, the sealed community could not obtain money for food and other necessities.  Without work, one did not get the meager bowl of soup distributed at the factories.  Without work, one could be deported.  They had not yet learned that deportations would take place with or without those work assignments.  Work was compulsory for everyone between the ages of 10-65 years of age.  Having a Work ID Card and an employment salary book would, they reasoned, keep them alive for another day. 

There were 18 workshops in 1940.  By 1943, that number increased to 93 enterprises (ressorts), where 70,000 people, 85% of the ghetto population, were employed in these businesses.  In his diary in August 1941, Dawid Sierakowiak writes: "A large number of new workshops and factories are being established.  Together with those already existing, they form what's called in jest the 'Jewish Industrial District'." As the numbers increased, many of the indoor enterprises had several locations, and most of the long working hours took place in small, overcrowded, unsanitary conditions.  (See List of Labor Departments in the Lódz Ghetto below.)

All the workers, children and the elderly alike, needed Work Identification Cards (ID Cards).  These cards were reportedly distributed at the work places by the managers.  Workers were warned that without that card, one would be considered unemployed.  It had to be kept in a protective folder, and any alterations made to the card meant punishment to the holder. 

Additional Sources

Books:
  • Lódz Ghetto, A History, Isaiah Trunk, English translation by Robert Shapiro, Indiana Press, 2006. Originally published 1962 in Yiddish.
  • The Lódz Ghetto 1940-1944, Julian Baranowski, Vademecum, Archiwum Panstwowe w Lódz & Bilbo, Lódz 2003.
  • The Diary of Dawid Sierakowiak, Five Notebooks from the Lódz Ghetto, edited by Alan Adelson, Translated by Kamil Turowski, Bloomsbury, 1996.
  • POLIN, A Journal of Polish-Jewish Studies, Volume 7, Anthony Polonsky, editor, Blackwell Publishers for the Institute for Polish-Jewish Studies, Oxford, 1992.
Websites:

The Project - Origin of the Data

The Work Identification Cards were reportedly distributed by the managers of the enterprises and required to be carefully held by the workers in the Lódz Ghetto.  Some survivors think that the administration at the Employment Office kept the application forms for the Work ID Cards, which look very similar to the actual cards. 

This type of Work Identification Card was distributed after January 1, 1943.  This database does not contain ALL the names of the working population in the Lódz Ghetto.  Other forms of Work Identification Cards were in use before this date and could still have been used concurrently. 

Survivors present in Lódz immediately after the war have provided testimony that many of the cards were missing.  One survivor reported that she obtained her card surreptitiously immediately after the war.  From comparing existing work cards in this collection to work cards that should have existed per the recollections of survivors or family, it appears that some of the cards may have been removed before the collection was copied.  Therefore, we can not assume that this collection includes 100% of all work cards that were issued.  Based on this information, some of the cards researchers are seeking may not be available.

Our collection is comprised of 23 reels of microfilm housed at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum (USHMM).  This database will serve as a finding aide for the Museum.  Given the ID number and/or worker name, a researcher will be able to request a copy of an ID Card.  Since the ID numbers were often hard to read, it is strongly recommended to supply the person's full name when requesting a copy of a card.  (Please see Acknowledgement section for the US Holocaust Memorial Museum's email address.)

Format of Work ID Cards

There are between 800 and 1600 frames on each of the 23 reels of microfilms.  The cards have two sides that contain some or all of the following information:

Front Left Side
German
English
Unterschrift d. Ausweisinhabers Signature of document owner
Unterschrift d. Betriebsleiters Signature of employer
Litzmannstadt-Getto, den____194_ Lódz Ghetto (date)
Front Right Side
ARBEITSAMT-GETTO Ghetto Employment Office
Legitimations-Karte Nr. Identification Card Number
Arbeiter Nr. Worker number
Name Surname
Vorname Given name
Geb. Date of birth
Wohnh. Address
Ist in dem Betrieb Nr Actual business number (Place assigned to work)
Als……beschäftigt Employed as ...
Tag d. Antritts d. Beschäftigung Starting date for employment
Er (Sie) darf die Strassen innerhalb des Gettos auch nach der Sperrstunde passieren He (she) is allowed to be on the streets within the ghetto after curfew hours.
Kontrolliert Approved by
Following two items stamped on front of some cards
TRANSPORT (deported) with date and transport number handwritten
GESTORBEN (died) with date and the institution from which the death note came
Back Left Side
Erlernter Beruf. Learned trade
Angelernter Beruf. Acquired skill
Geschlecht Gender
Alter am 1.1. 1943… Jahre Age in years as of 01-Jan-1943
Arbeitet seit Worked Since
Arbeitslos vom … bis … Unemployed from … to …
Arbeiter Bedenke!

Wer keine Arbeitskarte besitzt, gilt als arbeitslos.  Geht die Arbeitskarte verloren, melde es sofort dem Betriebsleiter, damit er beim Arbeitsamt Getto Duplikat beantragt.  Solche Karten tragen den Stempel Ersatzkarte und zeugen dann von der gleichgültigen Behandlung des Originals. 
Worker, consider this!

Whoever does not have a Worker’s Card, will be considered unemployed.  If the Worker’s Card is lost, inform the Factory manager immediately, so that he can apply for a Duplicate Card at the Ghetto Labor Department.  Such cards have the stamp Duplicate Card and are as valid as the original. 
Back Right Side
Zur genauen Beachtung! Pay close attention!
Sorgfältig in Schutzhülle aufbewahren, damit die Arbeitskarteleserlich bleibt. Be careful to keep the work card in the protective folder, so that it remains legible.
Eigenmächtige Änderungen sind strafbar. Alterations you make are punishable.
Stets bei sich führen. Keep with you at all times.
Diese Legitimation ist nicht übertragbar. This identification card is not transferable.
Gettoverwaltung
Gez.: BIEBOW
The Ghetto Administration
Signed: BIEBOW

Database

This database includes over 13,200 records.

In compiling the online database, information was organized for clarity based upon the order presented on the Work ID Card.  Not all cards contain all the following information.  Many cards were very hard to read.   The fields of the database are as follows:

  • Reel Number
  • Image number
  • Worker Number
  • Surname
  • Given Name
  • Date of Birth
  • Address in the ghetto (See Reference Link #2 below)
  • Place assigned to work (See List of Labor Departments in the Lódz Ghetto below)
  • Type of employment (See Reference Link #4 below)
  • Starting date of employment
  • Photo included on card: Yes/No
  • Signature of worker on card: Yes/No
  • Starting date of employment (date of Lódz Ghetto Work ID Card)
  • Learned Trade
  • Acquired skill
  • Gender
  • Age in years as of January 1, 1943 (See Note #3 below)
  • Worked since
  • Unemployed from….to…[or other places of employment] (See Note #6 below)
  • Comments (includes transport and death dates if applicable)
Notes
  1. Data entry volunteers indexed all legible entries and as much as possible from the illegible entries, sometimes providing parts of words and number series which may help researchers identify people of interest. 

  2. The Lódz-Ghetto card dates were entered in the Ghetto by different people.  Some used German, others Polish.  Therefore the months were variously in German abbreviations, Polish abbreviations, Roman numerals, or Arabic numbers. 

  3. The age of the worker given is as of January 1, 1943.  However, workers were frequently listed as one year older, since the clerks in Lódz apparently subtracted the year of birth from 1943, and therefore listed the age of the worker's next birthday. 

  4. In order to survive, ghetto inhabitants frequently lied about their ages to avoid deportation and/or to qualify for work.   In September1942, children less than 10 years old and adults over 65 were deported to the death camp in Chelmno. 

  5. Volunteer Fritz Neubauer reported that there is an official list of businesses in the Lódz Ghetto, called "Verzeichnis dis bis Betriebe in Litzmannstadt-Getto," from January 1943.  This may be available in some Holocaust libraries and/or museums. 

  6. The "Unemployed from… to…" phrase is on the backs of the cards.  However, it seems that instead of unemployment dates, additional work experiences were listed here.  Data entry volunteers had no way of determining which, if any, were actually dates of unemployment.  The listing seems to be places and dates of other employment. 

  7. A few transport dates listed were obtained from other JewishGen Holocaust databases and listed in brackets to indicate they are from other sources.  Since these transports must have occurred later, the Worker Identification Card does not include a TRANSPORT stamp. 

  8. Any other data in brackets indicates that the information was taken from another source, not the Work ID Card.  Researchers need to corroborate all dates and ages, since they vary greatly for the same person on the various source documents. 

  9. Although the Gestorben stamp does say "auf Grundn von" (cause of death), in reality the handwritten information does not provide the cause of death.  It states the name of the institution, mostly the business name, from where the information about the worker's death was provided, i.e. where the deceased person worked. 
Searching Strategies

The spelling of surnames was not consistent.  Always check all possible spelling variations when doing a database search.

Do not enter accented characters in the search fields.  If you do, you will NOT get the results you are expecting.

There are two Polish accented characters, the Ogonek E (Ę) and the Ogonek A (Ą) which sufficiently modify the pronounciation of a surname or town name to also change the soundex code.  The addition of the ogonek (little hook) beneath it causes the vowel to be pronounced with an additional "n" or "m".  For instance the town name Częstochowa is pronounced Czenstochowa or the surname JASTRZĘBSKA is pronounced JASTREMBSKA.  To get the search results you want, use the “sounds like” search and add the N or M to the name after the vowel.  Do not use an exact name search.

Reference Links
  1. A map of the Lódz Ghetto can be found here: http://www.shtetlinks.jewishgen.org/lodz/LGMap/LGMap.htm

  2. Researchers may also want to consult the Lódz Streets Database at http://www.shtetlinks.jewishgen.org/Lodz/streets.htm, which includes the list of all streets in the city of Lódz with name changes for the past 100 years.

  3. A list of Labor Departments in the Lódz Ghetto is below.

  4. Researchers can find translations for occupations by visiting JewishGen's German Occupation Definitions file at http://www.jewishgen.org/infofiles/GermanOccs.htm

  5. The following databases located on JewishGen's Holocaust Database website http://www.jewishgen.org/databases/Holocaust/ contain detailed information about the Lódz Ghetto.   Scroll down that page before doing searches to read the excellent descriptions of each. 
    • Lódz Ghetto Names Database Volumes I-IV
    • Lódz Ghetto Names Volume V
    • Lódz Transports to Chelmno
    • Lódz Ghetto Hospital Illnesses
    • Lódz Ghetto Hospital Deaths
List of Labor Departments in the Lódz Ghetto

The following list was compiled by Fritz Neubauer on the basis of Work Pass notations and the "Official List of Labour Departments in the Lódz Ghetto" reprinted on pp. 121-122 in The Lódz Ghetto 1940-1944, Vademecum, Archiwum Panstwowe w Lódzi & Bilbo, Lódz, 2003; provided by Roni Leibowitz. 

1 Schneider-Zentrale (Hanseatenstr. 45)
2 Schneiderei Hanseatenstr. 34-36
3 Schneiderei Hanseatenstr. 53
4 Schneiderei (Froschweg 13)
5 Gerberei (Halbe Gasse 12)
6 Schneiderei Mühlgasse 2
7 Schneiderei Neustadtstr. 28
8 Schneiderei Rembrandtstr. 8
9 Wäsche- und Kleider-Abteilung(Matrosengasse 14)
10 Wäsche- und Kleider-Abteilung(Matrosengasse 10)
11 Wäsche- und Kleider-Abteilung (Kurze Gasse / Franzstr. 85)
12 Wäsche und Kleider(Mühlgasse 25)
13 Wäsche- und Kleider-Abteilung(Franzstr. 13-15)
14 Schäfte-Abteilung (Siegfriedstr. 100)
15 Schuhmacher-Abteilung (Sulzfelderstr. 8 (82))
16 Schuhmacher-Abteilung (Sulzfelderstr. 84-86)
17 Schuhmacher-Abteilung II Marysin
18 Tischlerei Zimmerstr. 12 (Holzbetrieb I)
19 Tischlerei Reiterstr. 3 (Holzbetrieb II)
20 Tischlerei Putzigerstr. 9 (Holzbetrieb ?)
21 Strohschuh-Abteilung (Sulzfelderstr. 84)
22 Strohschuh-Abteilung (Sulzfelderstr. 88)
23 Strohschuh-Abteilung Marysin
24 Mützenwerkstätte (Sulzfelderstr. 47)
25 Schuhfabrik (Franzstr. 76)
26 Schneiderei Rembrandtstr. 14
27 Schneiderei Rembrandtstr. 16
28 Näherei (Gummimantelfabrik), Honigweg 4
29 Steppdecken- u. Kissen-Abteilung(Schneidergasse 3)
30 Hut-Abteilung (Hohensteinerstr. 9-11)
31 Textilfabrikations-Abteilung (Holzstr. 77)
32 Strickerei-Abteilung (Holzstr. 77)
33 Teppicherzeugnisse Abt. I (Am Bach 10)
34 Teppicherzeugnisse Abt. II (Am Bach 10)
35 Kleinmöbelfabrik (Basargasse 6)
36 Metall-Abteilung I (Hanseatenstr. 63)
37 Metall-Abteilung II (Hohensteinerstr. 56)
38 Zentrallager für Eisen und Metall(Hohensteinerstr. 62)
39 Elektrotechnische Abteilung(Alexanderhofstr. 36)
40 Sortierungs- und Verwertungsstelle für Abfälle (Hanseatenstr. 50)
41 Nähmaschinenrepararatur (Rembrandtstr. 6)
42 Drahtzieherei und Nägelfabrik(Putzigerstr. 8)
43 Wäsche und Kleider (Marysin)
44 Wäsche und Kleider, Lager (Mühlgasse 5)
45 Tricotagen-Abteilung (Sulzfelderstr. 41)
46 Tricotagen-Abteilung (Sulzfelderstr. 48)
47 Kürschner-Abteilung (Veit-Stoss-Str. 6)
48 Tapezierer -Abteilung (Reiterstr. 9)
49 Gerberei (Reiterstr. 57)
50 Chemische Wäscherei II
51 im Aufbau
52 Federn- und Daunensortierungsstelle(Hohensteinerstr. 64)
53 Schwachstrom-Abteilung(Sulzfelderstr. 21)
54 Glimmerspalterei (Sulzfelderstr. 21)
55 Holzwollefabrik (Marysin)
56 Korsett- und Büstenhalter-Abteilung(Steinmetzgasse 8)
57 Chemische Wäscherei I(= Reinigungs- und Waschanstalt I) (Holzstr. 77)
58 Chemische Reinigungs- und Waschanstalt II (Hohensteinerstr. 68)
59 Chemische Wäscherei III (Richterstr. 11)
60 Gummi-Abteilung (Hamburgerstr. 20)
61 Papiererzeugnis-Abteilung (Cranachstr. 10/12)
62 Leder- und Sattlerwaren-Abteilung(Schneidergasse 19)
63 Hausschuh-Abteilung V (Müllerstr. 2-4)
64 Hausschuh-Abteilung I (Hohensteinerstr. 40)
65 Hausschuh-Abteilung II (Storchengasse 22)
66 Hausschuh-Abteilung III (Fischgasse 15)
67 Hausschuh- und Strumpf-Abteilung(Holzstr. 75)
68-75 Sortierungs- und Verwertungsstelle für Abfälle
76 Chemische Abfallverwertung(Cranachstr. 26)
77 Bau-Abteilung (Steinmetzgasse 15)
78 Wasser- und Dampfinstallation(Hanseatenstr. 34)
79 Altkleiderkammer (Rungegasse 7)
80 Zentrallager für Öle und Chemikalien(Hamburger Str. 108-110 u. Kirchplatz 4)
81 Uhrreparaturwerkstätte (Bleicherweg 7)
82 Handstrickerei-Abteilung (Fischstr. 21)
83 Tischlerei-Abteilung (Bleicherweg 26)
84 Schneiderei Rembrandtstr. 10
85 Schneiderei Goldschmiedegasse 18
86 Strohschuh-Abteilung Marysin(Rungestr. 5)
87 Schneiderei Franzstr. 29
88 Trenn-Abteilung (Am Bach 4)
89 Wäsche und Kleider (Cranachstr. 19)
90 Zentrallager für Eisen und Metall(Hanseatenstr. 63)
90a Zentrallager für Eisen und Metall, Zweigstelle (Franzstr. 41)
91 Teppicherzeugnisse-Abteilung (Militär-stickerei)(Mühlgasse 7)
92 Hausschuh-Abteilung IV (Buchbindergasse 26)
93 Schneiderei Hanseatenstr. 37
94 Verwertungsstelle der aus den Landbezirken angefallenen Güter(Steinmetzgasse 7)
95 Im Aufbau
96 Unknown
97 Unknown
98 Unknown
99 Unknown
Without number:
  Altschuh-Lager
  Apotheke III
  Arbeitsamt Getto
  Bahnhof Radegast
  Bekleidungsabteilung
  Bekleidungsabteilung II(Hohensteinerstr. 70)
  Bekleidungsreparaturwerkstätte(Kreuzstr. 2)
  Darlehenskasse
  Druckerei und Stempelfabrik(Sulzfelderstr. 10)
  Evidenz-Abteilung
  Feuerwehrkommando(Telegrafenstr. 13)
  Fleischzentrale
  Friedhof
  Gemüse-Abteilung
  Gericht
  Gesundheits-Abteilung
  Heim für junge Arbeiter, Marysin II
  Kartoffel- und Gemüse Mieten, Marysin II
  Kohlen-Abteilung (Matrosengasse 2)
  Kolonialwaren- und Brot-Abteilung(Matrosengasse 6)
  Kräftigungs-Mittagsküche I
  Kräftigungs-Mittagsküche II
  Krankenhaus I
  Küchen-Abteilung (Matrosengasse 20)
  Leergut-Abteilung
  Miete- und Steuer-Abteilung
  Molkereierzeugnisse u. Salatproduktion
  Ordnungsdienst, Abteilung I
  Referat für Büroarbeiten
  Ressort für Büroarbeiten (Fischstr. 8)
  Schildermalerei (Sulzfelderstr. 10)
  Tabak-Abteilung (Sulzfelderstr. 10)
  Talon-Abteilung
  Transport-Abteilung
  Verwaltung (Hanseatenstr. 63)
  Winterbaukasten
  Wirtschaftsabteilung
  Zentral-Buchhaltung (Matrosengasse 1)
  Zentralbüro des Arbeitsressorts
  Zentral-Einkaufsstelle
  Zentral-Verkaufsstelle

Acknowledgments

The creation of this database could not have happened now if it were not for the generosity of Richard J. Astor. He was interested in finding a significant way in which to honor the memory of his father, Alec Astor Z"L, born Ajzyk Abersztajn in Lódz in 1915, who survived the Holocaust and died in London in 2006. We are very grateful to Richard Astor for funding this entire project.


ALEC ASTOR Z"L (born AJZYK ABERSZTAJN)
(1915-2006)

The information contained in this database was indexed from the files of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum (USHMM File RG 15.083M, Reels 693 - 696).  JewishGen volunteers, Nolan Altman and Roni Seibel Liebowitz, coordinated the data entry and proofreading processes, respectively.  We also wish to thank Fritz Neubauer for creating the Lódz Establishment list, and for sharing his personal knowledge about these Work ID Cards, explaining that this collection contains only those newly-issued work passes after January 1, 1943.  He also was a great help in deciphering many only partially legible German entries.

The following data entry volunteers worked on this project: Olivia Berkowicz, Bettie Black, Sharon Brearey, Fay Bussgang, Kurt Friedlaender, Marianna Hoszowska, Avraham Kano, Sandy Malek, Joan Maplesden, Edward Mitelsbach, Fritz Neubauer, Peter Reiniger, Diana Seldes, Marilyn Shalks, Limor Shenhar, Jolie Weininger, Irit Weisel, and Paula Zeiselman.

The volunteers who proofread the entries are: Helene Celnick, Gene Dershewitz, Anna Dunn, Helene Lajzerowicz, Orit Lavi, Dorothy Leivers, Roni Seibel Liebowitz, Fritz Neubauer, Fay Nissen, Sandra Paikin, Debby Painter, Zipi Pittel, Rosa Raskin, Barbara Ringel, Deborah Rosenberg, Merav Schejtman, Ruth Shaw, Nancy Siegel, Jackye Sullins, Eric Svirskis, Sandra Walker, Joanna Winter, and Naidia Woolf.

The task of proofreading each and every entry is laborious, requiring volunteers to check every entry in each column and compare them to what is written on the cards, which are often illegible.  Then uniformity in formatting of information is reviewed.  A number of the reels were rescanned when due to missing entries.  I am very grateful to assistant Naidia Woolf who checked most of the rescanned reels, added the missing entries, and did all the required re-numbering on these files.  Lastly, the files were sent to Fritz Neubauer for a final look at uncertain entries and a full review of the German spellings and grammar. His help has been invaluable.

In addition, thanks to JewishGen Inc.  for providing the website and database expertise to make this database accessible.  Special thanks to Susan King, Warren Blatt and Michael Tobias for their continued contributions to Jewish genealogy.  Particular thanks to to Nolan Altman, coordinator of Holocaust files.

Nolan Altman
May 2010


Searching the Database

This database is searchable via JewishGen's Holocaust Database.


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