During the second world war, the Nazi (Germany) had established more than 400 ghettos to isolate the Jewish population and gain control over them. Ghetto refers to a small slum area of the city of Germany where the Jewish community lived together in worse living conditions. The Jewish community was the untouchables according to the Nazis. They regarded the Jews as an inferior race, and they isolated them in Ghettos to avoid them from mixing with the other castes and degrading the superiority of the Aryans.
The first ghetto appeared in Poland on February 8, 1940. The Jews play a vital role in the German economy as they formed the manual labor of all the textile factories.
What Was The Ghetto Like?
The ghettos of the Nazi-occupied areas in Europe were primarily in Poland and covered by walls, gates and barbed wire fences. A ghetto was a highly unhygienic place, with overpopulation. Chronic food and fuel shortages, starvation, and unhealthy living conditions were the main characteristics of the ghettos. The extreme winters led to outbreaks of diseases such as epidemics and high mortality rates.
Ghettoization was a temporary situation, and ghettos existed in many places for a brief period. The Final Solution Act implemented in 1942, worsened the situation in Nazi Germany. As a result, they began to abolish the ghettos and deport the Jewish population to extermination camps and forced labor.
The Warsaw ghetto had a population of 450,000 Jews crowded in a 1.3 square miles. It is said to be the largest ghetto.
Conditions Of Living At A Ghetto
The living conditions of the ghettos were appalling. They kept Jews like animals in the Ghettos. The jews had to wear identification badges or armbands with a yellow star. The Jews did manual labor for the Germans. The Nazi power had appointed Jewish police and Jewish councils to maintain law and order at the ghettos for the German Reich.
Illegal activities like smuggling of weapons, food was quite common at the ghettos in spite of the strict law and order. Spark of life sparkled in the ghettos in the form of youth movements for freedom and cultural events, which were without the consent of the Jewish councils.
Jewish Resistance Uprising In The Ghettos
Between July to September 1942, the Germans deported 300,000 and more Jews from the Warsaw ghetto to extermination camps. Several Jewish people got together to create a self-defense unit known as the Jewish Fighting Organization. The Germans began to deport the Jews from Nazi Germany to Warsaw ghettos when it gave rise to an armed uprising within the ghettos.
The military resistance to the uprising from the Nazis broke out, and small Jewish groups started to fight the Germans. The Warsaw ghetto uprising was the first Jewish revolt in the German ruled European country. And also it was the most successful and most massive uprising of the Jewish, which represents resistance to Nazi persecution.
After the successful Warsaw uprising, it gave power and evoked the Jews in other ghettos like Vilna, Czestochowa, Bialystok, and other smaller ghettos. On the contrary, the rebellion of the Jewish population occurred after 1944 in Hungary. But this was primarily suppressed by the Hungarian police in coordination with the Germans. They deported more than 40,000 Jews from the ghettos in Hungary to extermination camps.
Liberty Of The Camps
As the Second World War came towards an end, and German power started to decline, the allies advancing towards the ghettos came across concentration camps full of starving and sick prisoners.
The first major Jewish camp liberated was the Majdanek near Lublin, Poland. The rapid Soviet Union advancement surprised the Germans. As a result, Germans attempted to hide their cruelty towards Jews by demolishing the camps through mass murder. In addition to this, thousands of unburied bodies and brutally tortured bodies were in the fields. Hence, the mortality rate was high, and the first intake of food morsel for any liberated prisoners provided too fatal for them. Most survivors of the Nazi camps died on their long and painful journey to recovery.