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This database provides another picture of the Łódź Ghetto. As we do not want to repeat what is available at these other sites, we are providing citations for the other JewishGen sites which should be consulted for extended background on the Łódź Ghetto. For an extensive introduction to the Łódź Ghetto itself, see http://www.shtetlinks.jewishgen.org/Lodz/holocaust.htm and http://www.jewishgen.org/databases/Poland/LodzGhetto.html. Also see http://www.jewishgen.org/databases/Holocaust/0093_Lodz-hospital.html and http://www.jewishgen.org/databases/Holocaust/0106_Lodz-illness.html for other Łódź Ghetto data.
By Roni Seibel Liebowitz
In a small Polish village, the "final solution of the Jewish question" commenced with the establishment in December 1941 of the first camp built for the sole purpose of extermination, at Chełmno nad Nerem (Kulmhof an der Nehr [Ger], Chełmno on the Ner River [Eng]). Whole communities of victims were gassed here day after day. Located 60 km (37 miles) northwest of Łódź, and connected by a railway annex to the town of Koło 14 km away (8.5 miles), it was not difficult to transport people without attracting much outside attention.
Chełmno was organized on a small estate or manor, surrounded by about 5 acres of land. Transports of about 1,000 people a day in 20-22 wagons were brought here under the pretense that they would be "resettled." To gain the cooperation of the deportees, the Nazis encouraged them to exchange their Polish money into German marks and sell their belongings or leave them for "safekeeping" at carpenters' shops in the ghetto. Each received warm clothing, bread and sausage for the journey.
The camp consisted of the empty manor, known as "The Castle," and a granary. A main gate was constructed to give the appearance of normalcy, but whenever it was open, a second gate was locked shut. The compound was enclosed by a guarded 2.5 meters-high boarded fence (8.2 feet) and contained densely planted trees. The extermination process consisted of three details: transport, the Castle, and the Forest Camp.
Transports to Chełmno stopped at the Kolo station, where victims were brought to the synagogue and then by railway to the station at Powiercie. Some spent the night locked in a mill at Zawadka and were driven to the camp the next morning. The location of the victims' last night changed during the exterminations at Chełmno.
The killings took place in the Castle. New arrivals were sometimes greeted by a member of the "Sonderkommando," who disguised himself as the squire of the manor, well dressed, displaying a feather hat, and smoking his pipe. At other times, the news was heard from a loudspeaker. The deportees were told they would either be sent to work in Austria or work there at the estate. Some of them even applauded, happy to be getting work. The great deception continued when they were told they would be fairly treated and well fed. However, for sanitary and health reasons, they first needed to shower and have their clothing disinfected. Led to the undressing rooms on the first floor, they labeled and handed over valuables for "safe-keeping." Next they were directed along a corridor that brought them to a truck, which they were told would take them to the baths. At this point, close to their deaths, they were hurried along by the shouts and blows of the guards. Once in the truck, which was located at the end of an enclosed wooden ramp placed in exact alignment with the door that led out of the building, the airtight doors were quickly closed by the SS. The driver switched on the motor, the truck was filled with gas by means of the exhaust pipe spewing the gas into the hermitically sealed space. The vehicle remained stationary, and five to ten minutes later all those inside were suffocated. These trucks held up to 175 people, depending upon which van was used.
This same truck then carried the dead to the Rzuchowski Forest, about 4 km (2 1/2 miles) away. A special unit of prisoners was ordered to unload the corpses, confiscate the jewelry, and extract gold teeth. The bodies were then dumped into mass graves. Up until 1942, bodies were buried in four long rectangular mass graves. After that, they were cremated in two crematoria and two mobile field ovens. The prisoners were also killed after a short time, to be replaced by new arrivals.
In mid-January 1942, the first Jews were deported from the Łódź Ghetto to the camp. Deportations and gassing continued until March 1943, when the final solution ceased for a while at Chełmno. It was re-established a year later to assist with the liquidation of the Łódź ghetto. On June 23, 1944, the transports of Jews from the Łódź ghetto began again and continued until July 15, 1944. These final killings now occurred in the forest camps. Victims were brought from the ghetto either by train to Kolo or by truck directly to Chełmno, where they spent the night in the Chełmno church. Vans then carried groups of 150 to the site in the forest the next day. Two new wooden huts were built, one similar to the dressing room at the Castle and the other for clothing and personal belongings. A similar pattern of deception was followed for the victims here. They were told they were heading for the bath houses and forced then into the trucks where they were gassed. Then they were driven to a nearby clearing and the corpses burned in two new crematoria only 150 meters (about 164 yards) away.
In 1944, 10,000 people were murdered here, including the 7,169 Łódź ghetto Jews listed in this database. It is estimated that a final total of 340,000 men, women, and children, were killed at Chełmno, at the average rate of 1,000 a day. One source states 60,000 Łódź Jews were killed at Chełmno; another source reports 77,867 Łódź ghetto Jews gassed at this extermination camp.
By Nolan Altman
The database contains the names of 7,169 individuals from Łódź who were transferred to the death camp at Chełmno. This collection includes data from 260 pages of transport registers between June and August 1944.
The fields of the database are as follows:
Year of Birth / Age: In most cases, the records contain the year of birth. In some cases you will find the person's age as ## Jahre or "years".
Address: The names of the streets within the Łódź Ghetto changed a number of times. There is an excellent explanation of the street names for Łódź and the years that each of the names referred to at: http://www.shtetlinks.jewishgen.org/Lodz/streets.htm.
The information contained in this database was indexed from the files of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum [Rg-15.083M Reel 305, Section 1309]. This information is accessible to you today thanks to the effort of the following JewishGen volunteers who are responsible for the transcription of this file: Nolan Altman (coordinator), Kurt Friedlaeder and Edward Mitelsbach.
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 the Research Division headed by Joyce Field and to Nolan Altman, coordinator of Holocaust files.
Roni Seibel Liebowitz and Nolan Altman
This database is searchable via JewishGen's Holocaust Database and the JewishGen Poland Database.
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Last Update: 15 Sep 2005 by WSB.