The city of Łódź commemorates the 78th anniversary of the closure of the Roma camp in the city’s Jewish ghetto. All 4,000 inhabitants were sent to the Nazi German Chełmno extermination camp and killed.
The Jewish ghetto in Łódź, or the Litzmannstadt Ghetto as it was named by the Germans, was the first Jewish ghetto in Nazi German-occupied Europe. In operation from February 8th 1940, the enclosed area of the city saw a total of 44,000 prisoners perish within its perimeter before its liquidation in August 1944.
On April 30th 1940, the Germans sealed of the ghetto from the rest of the city, in effect sentencing the vast majority of its 220,000 inhabitants to death. More than 4,000 Roma from Łódź and surrounding areas were also forced to move to the ghetto but were only kept there for 3 months before being sent to the Nazi German extermination camp Chełmno located 50 kilometres north of Łódź.
The Roma camp in Łódz was emptied between the 5th and 12th of January 1942. All 4,000 Roma were gassed to death on arrival to Chełmno with the use of moving gas vans. Małgorzata Moskwa-Wodnicka, the Deputy Mayor of Łódź, stated during the commemoration ceremony that it is necessary to preserve the memory of the city’s murdered Roma population and to pass on the memory to future generations.
Addressing the crowd, the Deputy Mayor described the conditions the Roma had to face in the ghetto, unheated and overpopulated buildings with constant cries of agony coming from starving, disease-ridden children. She continued by stating that the prisoners knew what fate awaited them, and left traces of that knowledge written on the walls in the camp.
The Łódź Ghetto was liberated by the Soviet Red Army on January 19th 1945.