|Ghettos in German-occupied Europe|
|Jüdischer Wohnbezirk in German|
|Incident type||Total of more than 1,000 ghettos created mostly in Central and Eastern Europe|
|Perpetrators||Schutzstaffel (SS), Orpo|
Beginning with the invasion of Poland during World War II, the regime of Nazi Germany set up ghettos across occupied Europe in order to segregate and confine Jews, and sometimes Romani people, into small sections of towns and cities furthering their exploitation. In German documents, and signage at ghetto entrances, the Nazis usually referred to them as Jüdischer Wohnbezirk or Wohngebiet der Juden, both of which translate as the Jewish Quarter. There were several distinct types including open ghettos, closed ghettos, work, transit, and destruction ghettos, as defined by the Holocaust historians. In a number of cases, they were the place of Jewish underground resistance against the German occupation, known collectively as the ghetto uprisings.
The first anti-Jewish measures were enacted in Germany with the onset of Nazism, without the actual ghettoization planning for the German Jews which was rejected in the post-Kristallnacht period. However, soon after the 1939 German invasion of Poland, the Nazis began to designate areas of larger Polish cities and towns as exclusively Jewish, and within weeks, embarked on a massive programme of uprooting Polish Jews from their homes and businesses through forcible expulsions. The entire Jewish communities were deported into these closed off zones by train from their places of origin systematically, using Orpo battalions, first in the Reichsgaue, and then throughout the Generalgouvernement territory.
The first ghetto of World War II was established on 8 October 1939 at Piotrków Trybunalski (38 days after the invasion), with the Tuliszków ghetto established in December 1939. The first large metropolitan ghetto known as the ?ód? Ghetto (Litzmannstadt) followed them in April 1940, and the Warsaw Ghetto in October. Most Jewish ghettos were established in 1940 and 1941. Subsequently, many ghettos were sealed from the outside, walled off with brickwork, or enclosed with barbed wire. In the case of sealed ghettos, any Jew found leaving there could be shot. The Warsaw Ghetto, located in the heart of the city, was the largest ghetto in Nazi occupied Europe, with over 400,000 Jews crammed into an area of 1.3 square miles (3.4 km2). The ?ód? Ghetto was the second largest, holding about 160,000 people. According to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum archives, there were at least 1,000 such ghettos in German-occupied and annexed Poland and the Soviet Union alone.
Ghettos across Eastern Europe varied in their size, scope and living conditions. The conditions in the ghettos were generally brutal. In Warsaw, the Jews, comprising 30% of the city overall population, were forced to live in 2.4% of the city's area, a density of 7.2 people per room. In the ghetto of Odrzywó?, 700 people lived in an area previously occupied by five families, between 12 and 30 to each room. The Jews were not allowed out of the ghetto, so they had to rely on smuggling and the starvation rations supplied by the Nazis: in Warsaw this was 253 calories (1,060 kJ) per Jew, compared to 669 calories (2,800 kJ) per Pole and 2,613 calories (10,940 kJ) per German. With the crowded living conditions, starvation diets, and insufficient sanitation (coupled with lack of medical supplies), epidemics of infectious disease became a major feature of ghetto life. In the ?ód? Ghetto some 43,800 people died of 'natural' causes, 76,000 in the Warsaw Ghetto before July 1942.
To prevent unauthorised contact between the Jewish and non-Jewish populations, German Order Police formations were assigned to patrol the perimeter. Within each ghetto, a Jewish Police force was created to ensure that no prisoners tried to escape. In general terms, there were three types of ghettos maintained by the Nazi administration.
The parts of a city outside the walls of the Jewish Quarter were called "Aryan". For example, in Warsaw, the city was divided into Jewish, Polish, and German Quarters. Those living outside the ghetto had to have identification papers proving they were not Jewish (none of their grandparents was a member of the Jewish community), such as a baptism certificate. Such documents were sometimes called "Christian" or "Aryan papers". Poland's Catholic clergy massively forged baptism certificates, which were given to Jews by the dominant Polish resistance movement, the Home Army (Armia Krajowa, or AK). Any Pole found by the Germans to be giving any help to a Jew was subject to the death penalty.
In 1942, the Nazis began Operation Reinhard, the systematic deportation of Jews to extermination camps. Nazi authorities throughout Europe deported Jews to ghettos in Eastern Europe or most often directly to extermination camps built by Nazi Germany in occupied Poland. Almost 300,000 people were deported from the Warsaw Ghetto alone to Treblinka over the course of 52 days. In some ghettos, local resistance organizations staged ghetto uprisings. None were successful, and the Jewish populations of the ghettos were almost entirely killed. On June 21, 1943, Heinrich Himmler issued an order to liquidate all ghettos and transfer remaining Jewish inhabitants to concentration camps. A few ghettos were re-designated as concentration camps and existed until 1944.