Jewish Ghettos Essay

1801 words - 7 pages

Jewish ghettos: The basic history of the formation of the Jewish ghettos, including the everyday life and economic hardships faced by the communities.

     By definition, a ghetto is an area, usually characterized by poverty and poor living conditions, which houses many people of a similar religion, race or nationality. They served to confine these groups of people and isolate them from the rest of the community because of political or social differences. However, the Jewish ghettos established throughout Europe were more than just a way for the Germans to isolate the Jewish community. They were the first step in making Hitler’s final solution possible. The ghettos were the means of organizing all of the Jews together and preparing them to be shipped to concentration camps. However, these ghettos soon evolved into political, religious and social entities that served the community and began to resemble a form of self-ruling government. Furthermore, many of these ghettos were different from one another because of different internal structures of the Jewish community or the diversity of the personalities of the leaders of the council in the Jewish community. However, the ghettos must be analyzed as if they are all “one history.”(Holocaust) In fact, many of the communities were the same with regards to Jewish perceptions and reactions concerning life and the difficulties being faced by each community in its occupied territory. This research paper discusses the common everyday trials and tribulations faced by all the ghettos and looks at the ghettos from a political and socio-economic point of view. (Holocaust)
     First, it is important to understand the history behind the ghettos and discuss their centralization in Poland. Hitler incorporated the western part of Poland into Germany according to race doctrine. He intended that Poles were to become the slaves of Germany and that the two million Jews therein were to be concentrated in ghettos in Poland's larger cities. Later this would simplify transport to the death camps. Nazi occupation authorities officially told the story that Jews were natural carriers of all types of diseases, especially typhus, and that it was necessary to isolate Jews from the Polish community. Jewish neighborhoods thus were transformed into prisons. The five major ghettos were located in Warsaw, Lódz, Kraków, Lublin, and Lvov (a history 170). (Holocaust, Holocaust time line)
In total, the Nazis established 356 ghettos in Poland, the Soviet Union, the Baltic States, Czechoslovakia, Romania, and Hungary between 1939 and 1945. However, there was no real uniformity to these ghettos. The ghettos usually varied with respect to the size of the city in which they were located. The ghettos in small towns were generally not sealed off, which was often a temporary measure used until the Jewish occupants could be sent to a bigger ghetto. Larger cities had closed ghettos, with brick or...

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