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1940: Machinery of Hatred
 pg. 190 
Jewish prisoners of war, newly arrived in Poland's Kraków Ghetto, have their heads shaved, purportedly to prevent typhus. Nowhere was the hypocrisy of the Nazis more apparent than in their management of the ghettos. While they chastised Jews for being unclean and mandated superficial actions to prevent the outbreak and spread of contagious diseases, the grossly overcrowded conditions of the ghettos and complete lack of adequate sanitary facilities virtually assured diseases in epidemic proportions. Disease was a leading cause of death in the ghettos.
Photo: Bildarchiv Preussischer Kulturbesitz / United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Photo Archive
This belt buckle is dominated by the Nazi eagle perched on the swastika. The slogan reads, "God is with us."
Photo: Phillip Drell
Lódz Ghetto

In September 1939 the Germans annexed the Polish city of Lódz and gave it a new name: Litzmannstadt. They burned down its synagogues and herded its 170,000 Jews into the most neglected, poverty-ridden slum section of town. The ghetto was originally established as a transitional measure, as the Nazis vowed to "cleanse" the city of Jews and "burn out this pestilent abscess." However, the ghetto was maintained for four years.

Wooden fences and barbed wire permanently sealed the Lódz Ghetto in the spring of 1940. Inside, the mostly wooden, overcrowded houses had no toilets, no running water, no sewage. The use of electricity was forbidden at night. Minimal food allocations created chronic starvation. Rats infested refuse dumps. Dysentery, tuberculosis, and typhus epidemics raged periodically. Heart disease, brought on by constant tension and hardship, claimed even more lives. Some Jews chose suicide by "going to the wire"; guards shot anyone approaching the fence.

The head of the ghetto's Jewish Council, Mordechai Chaim Rumkowski, hoped to keep Jews alive by turning Lódz into a giant slave-labor workshop for the Germans. Nonetheless, liquidation measures began in 1942, when 55,000 Lódz Jews were sent to the gas vans of Chelmno, Poland. By May 1944 only 77,000 remained alive. As the Soviet Army approached, the Nazis consigned the Jews who remained to the ovens of Auschwitz.

 January 18-25, 1940: 255 Polish Jews arrested at random in Warsaw are taken to the Palmiry Forest outside the city and shot.
 January 30, 1940: The British Embassy in Bucharest pressures the Romanian government to prevent its ships from carrying Jewish refugees.
 February 7, 1940: Jews in Warsaw, Poland, are prohibited from visiting the city's public libraries.
 February 8, 1940: A Jewish ghetto is established at Lódz, Poland.
1940: Machinery of Hatred
 pg. 190 
The Holocaust Chronicle
© 2009 Publications International, Ltd.