The Warsaw Ghetto


August 14, 2022

The Warsaw Ghetto (called Der jüdische Wohnbezirk in Warschau, "Jewish Quarter in Warsaw" by the Nazi German authorities) was a ghetto established by the German occupation administration in 1940 and gradually surrounded by a wall. About 450,000 Jews were forcibly moved into it, who had to live in an area of ​​2.6 km² and were not allowed to leave the area.

Establishment of the Ghetto

The Warsaw Ghetto was established by order of the Governor of the Warsaw District, Ludwig Fischer, dated 2 October 1940. All Poles who lived in the area where the ghetto was to be established were forced to move out by 31 October. Conversely, Jews who lived outside the planned ghetto had to move here by November 16. This action affected about 113,000 Poles and 138,000 Jews. About 450,000 people were gradually moved into the ghetto. The boundaries of the ghetto changed several times during its existence. Later, during its reduction, it was divided into two parts - the so-called Big and Small ghettos. They were connected together only by a wooden bridge that crossed Chłodna Street at the corner with Żelazna Street. Free exit from the ghetto was prohibited on November 26, 1940. The ghetto was gradually surrounded by a three-meter wall, although at first there was only a wooden fence in some places. From the outside it was guarded by the German protective police (Schutzpolizei), inside operated by the Jewish order service (Ordnungsdienst, OD). The area of ​​the ghetto was about 4.5% of the total area of ​​the city. However, approximately 37% of Warsaw's population was concentrated in it.

Living conditions

Due to extreme overcrowding and insufficient supplies, there were numerous deaths due to famine and epidemics, despite the occasional Polish activists who tried to help the Jews in the ghetto and smuggled food and medicine into it (this activity alone was punishable by death). The average calorie intake for ghetto residents was approximately 1,125 calories per day. However, some categories of the population had less than 800 calories per day. Mortality in the Warsaw Ghetto:

Liquidation of the Ghetto

The first large-scale resettlement operation began on July 22, 1942. SS-Sturmbannführer Hermann Höfle, who was in charge of the ghetto's evacuation, then accompanied by SS officials came to the chairman of the Warsaw Judenrat, Adam Czerniakow, to inform him that the Jews from the ghetto would be deported further east . From that day on, the Jewish Council had to prepare 6,000 people every day for transport to the boarding station (Umschlagplatz) on the edge of the ghetto. The only exceptions to the deportation were workers in German factories with valid work permits, the Jewish Order Service (Ordnungsdienst), patients and employees of hospitals, members of the Judenrat and their families. The State Secretary of the Ministry of Transport, Albert Ganjumilue, informed the head of Himmler's personal staff, SS-Obergruppenführer Karl Wolff, about the course of the action in a letter dated July 28, 1942: "From July 22, a train load of 5,000 Jews left Warsaw via Małkini for Treblinka every day, and in addition, a train load of 5,000 Jews left Przemyśl twice a week for Belzec..." By the end of 1942, about 300,000 were taken from Warsaw to extermination camps (mainly Treblinka) ghetto dweller Another resettlement event took place on the 18th-22nd. January 1943. About 6,000 people were taken to Treblinka at that time. During this event, the first resistance of Jewish organizations in the ghetto occurred. Mordechai Anielewicz and his comrades attacked a group of Germans accompanying a crowd of Jews to the Umschlagplatz. This event took place at the corner of Niska and Zamenhofa streets.


The awareness of inevitable death led some of the ghetto residents to decide to stand up at the last stage of the deportation and despite the absolutely insufficient weapons and zero chance of victory.