Daily Life in Warsaw Ghetto Which Ceased to Exist During the WWII

When the Warsaw District governor occupied the Polish government in October 1941, he ordered the authorities to create a Jewish district (ghetto) in Warsaw. All Jews were relocated to this area by the end of November 1940. The Poles were forced to resettle to the ‘Aryan side’ and were replaced by 138,000 Jews from other districts of the capital. By April 1941, more than 460,000 inhabitants were living the area, with an average of 7.2 persons per room. 85,000 of them children up to the age of 14. Four thousand Jews from Germany also settled there and thousands of Polish Jews were also brought into the ghetto.

The area lacked basic facilities and the residents were facing typhus epidemics and starvation. The only real means of survival was the smuggling of food and bartering, the majority of the ration consumed in the Ghetto was brought in illegally. Between October 1940 and July 1942 around 92,000 Jewish residents of the ghetto died of starvation, diseases, and cold weather. When the Germans invaded the district, they killed everyone and the Warsaw ghetto ceased to exist.

These photographs show life in the Warsaw district, and they were captured by Willi Georg and a few by Heinrich Joest in the summer of 1941. These photos show people trading on the streets, women searching for good quality bedclothes, children playing, and busy in their lives. Trams were operated by workers ‘Aryan side’, provide limited public transport services.

#1 A young boy selling a handful of sweets from a chair in the street.

#2 A woman lying on the pavement in the Warsaw ghetto, starving to death, 1941.

#3 A portrait of a young woman wearing a striped blouse and an armband with the Star of David.

#4 Jewish residents of the ghetto shopping in a vegetable street market.

#5 An elderly Jewish woman selling her scarce possessions in the street of the ghetto.

#6 A Jewish man selling his bread allowance in the street of the ghetto, summer 1941.

#7 An armband seller making a transaction in the street. Two elderly men on the left trying to sell pieces of rope – almost anything could be a subject of trade to earn money for food.

#8 Ghetto residents buying and selling bedsheets in a street market.

#9 A female tea seller serving hot drinks to customers in a makeshift cafe in a street market in the ghetto.

#10 A street armband seller and a group of pedestrians on 18 Zamenhofa Street (probably) in the ghetto, summer 1941. Note two advertising plaques on the wall in the background – for Senior Medic (starszy felczer) named J. Singer and for typewriting services (address given – 18 Zamenhofa Street, flat no.

#11 A young and cheerful seller of newspapers and armbands running his stall in the street of the ghetto (possibly Muranowski Square). The title of the newspaper for sale is “Gazeta Żydowska – Jewish Gazette”. He also advertises Wrigley’s chewing gum for sale, mispelled as Wirgley’s.

#12 A young man in the doorway of a shop in the ghetto. Note he has taken his hat off to comply with the German order to remove headwear in the presence of German personnel. The shop offers fresh eggs, sweets and watches. The sign in the window reads – “I buy old watches for top prices”.

#13 A group of Jewish men and children posing for a photograph in the street of the ghetto. Note the man in the middle, holding a dog on his shoulder.

#14 A starving man (father ?) and two emaciated children begging on the street in the ghetto.

#15 An emaciated mother with her twin daughters in the ghetto.

#16 Two emaciated children, one of them asleep or unconscious, begging on the street of the ghetto.

#18 A destitute Jewish child eating a piece of bread in the street of the ghetto.

#21 An emaciated boy sitting on a pavement. Note a crowd of pedestrians around him, including children with toys.

#23 A teenage boy in ragged clothes standing by a waste container (produced by the Silesia Steelworks in Rybnik) in the ghetto.

#24 Two well dressed women, most likely sisters, posing for a photograph in a street market.

#25 Dead man lies in front of a shop in the Warsaw ghetto.

#26 Street rickshaws and a tramcar carrying passengers along Leszno Street in the ghetto, summer 1941. This particular tramline was run between the Muranowski Square and the Grzybowska Street. The plaque on the tram indicates it runs towards Grzybowska Street.

#27 Crowds of pedestrians and street rickshaws in busy Karmelicka Street in the ghetto.

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Written by Aung Budhh

Husband + Father + librarian + Poet + Traveler + Proud Buddhist. I love you with the breath, the smiles and the tears of all my life.

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        • There are a lot of casts, religions, Ethnic groups, and several other groups with similar identities who don’t have a nation. The problem is that Israelis are building their country on the graveyards and corpses of Palestinian children. You have entirely erased a nation from its existence. I know jews were tortured, killed, punished and raped during WWII, but that doesn’t give you the right repeat the same on other people. And whenever someone argues with narcissist-minded Jews, they only have one answer; because it is written in our book that the land belongs to us. This is the only justification they have. If I show you a book, and occupy your home, and throw out your stuff and family, would you allow me to do that? The Israelis are not the only jews in the world. I have seen mass protests against Israelis by Jews in New York and several other major cities, but the media don’t cover these stories.