Piotrków Trybunalski Ghetto

About thirty kilometres south of Lodz lies Piotrkow Trybunalski who before the war had about 18,000 Jews living in the city. The city was occupied as early as September 5, 1939, and the Jews immediately began to be persecuted by the Nazis. About 2,000 Jews managed to escape to the Soviet-occupied part of Poland. On October 8, the German civil administrator, Oberbürgermeister, Hans Drexel, ordered the creation a ghetto for remaining Jews. About 28,000 Jews were forced to settle in a part of the city where previously 5,000 – 6,000 people had lived.

The reason why the number of Jews had risen significantly was because Jews from nearby areas had been moved to the city. The ghetto was the first the Nazis established in occupied Eastern Europe and was thus unique. When the ghetto was cut off from the rest of the city on October 28, residents could only leave and enter the ghetto with special permission. Those with permits were often Jews who worked in german controlled industries located outside the ghetto.

Conditions in the ghetto were harsh, cramped living spaces, inadequate sanitary facilities, lack of supplies, lack of medicines led to diseases and other misery’s, not infrequently with fatal outcome. On October 13, 1942, the Nazis began liquidating the ghetto and within a week about 20,000 Jews had been deported to Treblinka where they were murdered. About 500 Jews managed to escape while about 2,000 Jews were allowed to stay because they were needed as slave workers.

Slave workers were housed in a smaller ghetto, but regular selections was routine where unproductive and superfluous Jews were tahen away and killed in a nearby forest called Rakowi and at the Jewish cemetery. The small ghetto was liquidated in July 1943, and the remaining Jews were deported to labour camps. Of approximately 28,000 Jews who lived in the ghetto, about 1,500 survived the war, they had either been moved to other places or managed to stay hidden til the end of the war.

Current status: Partly preserved/demolished with monument (2013).

Address: Stary rynek, Piotrków Trybunalski.

Get there: Car.

My comment:

Although the ghetto was the first the Nazis established, it falls into the shadow of the larger and more well-known ghettos such as Warsaw, Krakow and Lodz. It is scarcely mentioned more than the fact that it was the first ghetto. 

Follow up in books: Gilberg, Martin: Holocaust: A History of the Jews of Europe During the Second World War (1987).