The Lodz Ghetto was the second largest Jewish ghetto in Poland during World War Two, after the Warsaw Ghetto. It was established in February 1940. By the end of that year, it already had 160,000 inhabitants. Due to the enormous quantities of commodities of all kinds produced there, especially textiles, the ghetto soon became a highly important production center for the German economy.
The percentage of Jews working was always very high: for example, in the period from 6 to 12 October 1942, a total of 74,735 Jews were employed, which is almost 84% of a total population of approximately 89,200. Even children from the age of 9 were used for light work. Because of its great economic importance, the ghetto remained in existence until 1944. It was evacuated only in the summer of that year in the face of the threatening Soviet advance.
The last known statistics on the population of the ghetto date from 1 March 1944, when a total of 77,679 Jews lived there, of whom over 5,500 were 14 years old and younger, and more than 1,000 Jews were over 60 years old.
According to the orthodox version of history, the Jews of this ghetto were all murdered between the end of June and mid-September 1944. About 7,000 are said to have been gassed in gas vans at the Chełmno Camp, the rest in the Auschwitz Camp. This claim rests mainly on the implausible testimony of the untrustworthy witness Mieczysław Żurawski. (See the entry on him and on the Chełmno Camp.)
Although there are ten transport lists of a total of 7,170 Jews from the Lodz Ghetto in the period from 23 June to 14 July 1944, the documents indicate that these Jews were transferred “for work.” The documents do not state where they were sent. The age of the deportees indicated on the lists shows that almost all of them were of working age. Of the young children and adults over 60 living in the ghetto at that time, hardly anyone was transferred. The few young children who were transferred were children of mothers who were also transferred. The intention was evidently not to break up families. If the purpose of the transfer had been to exterminate Jews who were unfit for work, the thousands of very young and very old ghetto residents would have been the primary ones transferred.
There is therefore no evidence that any Jews of this ghetto were transferred to Chełmno. The evidence for Auschwitz is somewhat better, although no deportation lists appear to have survived. Here the assertions of various orthodox authors contradict each other as to the dates and extent of the deportations. The Polish Auschwitz historian Danuta Czech originally claimed that 15 transports of Jews from Lodz arrived at Auschwitz between 15 August and 18 September. Precisely 3,076 of them were registered and admitted to the camp. In each case she claims, without any proof, that there was an undetermined “remainder” of deportees unfit for work in these transports, who were gassed on arrival, namely a total of about 67,000.
The number of registered prisoners, including the assigned registration numbers, is derived from Auschwitz registration lists which were copied by prisoners and smuggled out of the camp. The number of deportees left as the alleged “remainder” is derived from the testimony of former Auschwitz inmate Miklós Nyiszli. He had claimed in his book that 95% of the 70,000 Jews deported from Lodz to Auschwitz were gassed on arrival, apparently because they were unfit for work.
If one considers that, when the Jews were deported from Lodz, almost all of them were assigned to work, meaning they were very much fit for work, one wonders how some 95% of ghetto dwellers fit for work could suddenly turn into 95% of deportees unfit for work. However, as one can see from the entry about Miklós Nyiszli, this proven impostor and serial liar lacks any credibility. Using him as a source undermines Czech’s own credibility.
In later years, it turned out that many Jews sent from the Lodz Ghetto were sent to other camps, above all the Stutthof Camp, to which 11,464 Jews were transferred and registered, including many children under the age of 14. In addition, it turned out that the Auschwitz registration numbers assigned to Jews from the Lodz Ghetto since 7 September had been issued to those who had arrived at Auschwitz earlier. They had spent some time there in the Birkenau transit camp rather than being instantly admitted and registered. It may be assumed that many more Jews from Lodz passed through this transit camp, but were ultimately sent to other camps without getting registered in Auschwitz.
A letter from Georg Lörner, the head of the administration of the concentration camps in the Economic and Administrative Main Office (Wirtschafts- und Verwaltungs-Hauptamt), dated 15 August 1944, finally provides clarity. It states that 60,000 Jews were just in the process of getting transferred from Lodz to various concentration camps in Germany for labor deployment. Since there was not enough prisoner clothing available for them, a special quota of spinning material was requested. Czech mentions that letter, but hides the passage on the Jews from Lodz. If a mass murder of these deportees fit for labor deployment had been planned, such a letter would never have been written.