The Holocaust: Adjustmet to the NAZI Ghettos

Figure 1.--Here we see Jewish children with ansome adults in one of the NAZI ghettos in Poland, perhaps Warsaw. The image is undated, but was probably taken in 1941 before the large-sale killing began. NAZI authorities wer surprised to the degree with which the captive Jews were able to adjust to ghetto conditions, especilly the restrictive food rations.

Despite the deplorable conditions, the Jews managed to adjust to the situation. For one thing, they were protected from the violence which they were subjected on the streetsand their himes by NAZI zealots and anti-Semetic Poles. There was considerable organized and unorganized street violence. The NAZIs for their part were apparently surprised at the ability of Jews to adapt themselves to the terrible conditions in the ghettoes. At first the meger rations provided by the Germans wee suplements by American food deliveries through Sweden. Here the American-Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (known as the JDC or simply 'the Joint'). The United States was at first a neutral country which for diplomaric reasons the Germans had to tolerate American agencies The American-registered Joint was able to operate in German-occpied Poland with a headquarters in Warsaw. The JDC had one small advantage. Hitler and Goebbels constantly spewed out the idea that Jews hs enormous influence on Roosevelt and America. As a result, at the behest of the Foreign Ministry, they tolerated the JDC to a greater extent than they almost certainly would have. Hitler placed a high priority on keeping America neutral while he completed his conquest of Europe. Thus the JDC were able to distribute relief aid as they had done in World War I. Given the character of the NAZIs, the work was dangerous and damanding. And the JDC as a private charity did not have the capabolity to feed the entire Jewish Polish population. Yitzhak Gitterman and Emanuel Ringelblum organized and led a variety of self-help projects. The Jewish Mutual Aid Society (ZITOS) operated over one hundred soup kitchens in Warsaw. The National Society for the Care of Orphans (CENTOS) operated schools and provided food, clothing and shelter. Notable also were the informal ouse Committees which were organized virtually every apartment house and attempted to provide basic welfare, medical care and sanitation. The NAZI officials who authored the Hunger Plan thought that more Jews would die, both from the inadequate nutrition and sanitary facilities as well as from suiside out of dispair. Governor General Frank at a meeting of NAZI occupation in Krakow (the capital of the Government General) remarked "By the way, I wish to state that we have sentenced 1,200,000 Jews to death by starvation; the fact that the Jews are not dying from hunger will only serve to speed up enactment of further anti-Jewish decrees." (August 24, 1942).


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Created: 4:10 PM 3/21/2016
Last updated: 4:11 PM 3/21/2016