Roma camp liquidation in wartime ghetto marked online due to Covid-19

By Bundesarchiv/ CC-BY-SA 3.0

The 79th anniversary of the closure of a Roma camp in the World War Two Jewish ghetto in Poland's central city of Lodz, known as the Litzmannstadt Ghetto, was marked online on Tuesday due to the coronavirus pandemic.

"Every year in January, we symbolically return to these tragic events, the painful memory of which still remains in our hearts," Lodz Mayor Hanna Zdanowska said in an online message.

Opened by the Germans on February 8, 1940, the Litzmannstadt Ghetto was the first Jewish ghetto in German-occupied Poland and the second largest after Warsaw. Initially with a population of around 220,000, the ghetto was a thriving industrial centre, with about a hundred enterprises producing uniforms, footwear and rucksacks for the German army.

On April 30, 1940, the ghetto was completely sealed off from the rest of the city, its then population numbering over 160,000. The inhabitants, also including Roma besides Jews, lived in extreme conditions, around 44,000 perishing from disease and starvation before the ghetto's liquidation in August 1944.

The Roma camp existed for slightly under three months, its inhabitants were crowded into several unheated buildings deprived of any conveniences, where they suffered from starvation and water shortage. Between January 5 and 12 1942 the over 4,000 inmates of the Roma camp were deported to the Chelmno death camp in the western part of occupied Poland, where they were gassed in specially adapted vehicles.