The Częstochowa Ghetto was a Jewish ghetto set up by Nazi Germany in the city of Częstochowa in south-central Poland, for the purpose of persecution and exploitation of local Jews during the German occupation of Poland. The approximate number of people confined to the ghetto at its beginning was around 40,000 and at its peak – right before mass deportations – 48,000. In late 1942 most ghetto inmates were delivered by Holocaust trains to their deaths at the Treblinka extermination camp. In June 1943, the remaining ghetto inhabitants launched the Częstochowa Ghetto Uprising, which was extinguished after a few days of fighting.
The official order for the creation of the Ghetto was issued on April 9, 1941 by Stabshauptmann Richard Wendler. In addition to Jews from Częstochowa, more Jews were being brought in from nearby towns and villages including Krzepice, Olsztyn, Mstów, Janów, Przyrów, as well as hundreds of expellees from Polish lands annexed into the Reich at the beginning of war, mostly from Płock and Łódź. The ghetto inhabitants were forced to work as slave labor in the armaments industry, majority in the expanded Polish foundry "Metalurgia" located on Krotka Street (which had been taken over by the German manufacturer HASAG), as well as in other local factories or workshops.
The Nazis began liquidating the ghetto on September 22, 1942 during Operation Reinhard (the day after Yom Kippur). The first wave of deportations concluded on the night of October 7. The action was carried out by German units together with their Ukrainian and Latvian auxiliaries (Hiwis), known as Trawniki men, under the command of captain of the Schupo, Paul Degenhardt. Every day, the Jews were being assembled on Daszyński square for "resettlement" and then transported by the Holocaust cattle train to Treblinka extermination camp: around 40,000 victims in total.
Those who survived the main thrust of ghetto liquidation (about 5,000–6,000 slave workers and their families) were put in the so-called Small Ghetto for the Hugo Schneider munitions factory. There, 850 Jews were executed. Soon, a clandestine Jewish Fighting Organisation was formed by Mordechaj Zilberberg, Sumek Abramowicz and Heniek Pesak among others. The organization consisted of 300 members. When the Germans moved to liquidate the Small Ghetto on 26 June 1943 the Częstochowa Ghetto Uprising erupted. Zylberberg committed suicide when the Germans stormed his bunker. 1,500 Jews died in the fighting. On 30 June the resistance was suppressed with additional 500 Jews burned alive or buried beneath the rubble. 3,900 Jews were captured and put to work in labour camps Apparatebau, Warthewerk and Eisenhütte. 400 people were shot following a selection. In December that year 1,200 prisoners were transported to Germany. The men were sent to Buchenwald, the women to Dachau (all perished). However, the much needed foundry camps were revived in the second half of 1944 with around 10,000 new workers sent in from Łódź, Kielce, Radomsk and Skarżysko-Kamienna. On 15 and 16 January 1945, ahead of the Soviet advance, about 3,000 prisoners were sent to the Third Reich; all perished. The remaining 5,200 Jews employed in Częstochowa slave-labor camps were liberated by the Red Army.
Notes and references
- The statistical data compiled on the basis of "Glossary of 2,077 Jewish towns in Poland" by Virtual Shtetl Museum of the History of the Polish Jews (English), as well as "Getta Żydowskie," by Gedeon, (Polish) and "Ghetto List" by Michael Peters at www.deathcamps.org/occupation/ghettolist.htm (English). Accessed July 12, 2011.
- Shmuel Krakowski (translated from Hebrew by David Fachler) (2010). "Armed Resistance". YIVO Institute for Jewish Research. Retrieved July 16, 2011.
- "Częstochowa ghetto – History". Virtual Shtetl Museum of the History of Polish Jews. p. 4. Retrieved July 16, 2011.