POLISH MINISTRY OF INFORMATION
PRINTED AS A PRESS BULLETIN
London – Tuesday 1st December 1942 – No 57
The Polish Government has recently received from Poland the following on the measures taken by the German authorities to exterminate the population of the ghetto.
The Origin of the Warsaw Ghetto:
The German authorities created the Warsaw ghetto in October 1940. All the Jews in the city were ordered to transfer to the Jewish quarter assigned to them by 1 November 1940, while all the Aryans were ordered to remove elsewhere out of this quarter.
The Jews were allowed to take only personal articles with them, and were forbidden to take their furniture, though in practice this rule was not strictly observed. All the Jewish shops and businesses in the Aryan areas of the city were closed down and sealed.
The original terminal date for the transfer was postponed to 15 November 1940, after which Jews were not allowed to leave the ghetto. But Aryans were allowed to enter without passes down to 25 November 1940. After that the ghetto was completely closed, the entire area was surrounded by a wall and the right of entry and exit was granted only to the holders of passes issued by a special German office.
Anyone leaving the ghetto without a pass became liable to the death sentence, and the German courts have passed such sentences in a large number of cases. Even after the ghetto was closed a large number of commercial and industrial enterprises owned by Aryans were left within the walls.
All the trading and commercial businesses were transferred outside the walls by the spring of 1941, but Aryan industrial enterprises were left inside and gave employment to both Aryans and Jews.
Life in the Ghetto
After the sealing of the ghetto official intercourse with the outside world was maintained through a special German department, the Transferstelle.
In the spring of 1942 at a period when relations between the ghetto and the rest of Warsaw had been systemized, trade between the two parts of the city averaged a sum of 13 groshe daily per head of the ghetto population.
At this same period a kilogramme (2 ¼ lbs) of bread cost over ten zlotys and a kilogramme of potatoes some five zlotys. From the earliest days of the ghetto commerce with the outside world was based chiefly on smuggling, which was carried on, on a large scale.
The Germans themselves participated in this violation of their own prescriptions, drawing large incomes from trading profits and bribes. In economic terms this illegal trade consisted of the selling up of Jewish property and possessions in exchange for food.
The ghetto depended on smuggling for its food supplies, as the amount supplied on the ration cards was much lower even than that allowed to Poles, and was quite inadequate to maintain life.
It amounted to about half a kilogramme of bread per person weekly, and hardly anything to else. As time went on large workshops were organised for Jews to work on German orders. But smuggling remained the chief form of trade with the outside and when it came to an end during the period of “liquidation” of the ghetto the disparity between prices in the Jewish quarter and outside became even greater.
Bread inside the ghetto cost 60 to 85 zlotys a kilogramme, outside it was 8 to 12 zlotys, sugar was 400 to 450 zlotys a kilogramme inside and 35 to 70 zlotys outside, potatoes were 16 to 30 zlotys a kilogramme inside, and 3.50 zlotys outside.
The mortality rate inside the ghetto rose steadily month after month. This was due not only to the terrible need of the people, but to the harsh winters of 1940/41 and 1941/42, epidemics of spotted typhus, typhoid and tuberculosis.
The Holocaust Education & Archive Research Team
Copyright. Carmelo Lisciotto H.E.A.R.T 2009