The Lodz ghetto is most commonly known for its forced labor and productivity. It proved to be an asset to the German military by what the laborers were able to produce.
When many look back at history on Lodz the name Mordechai Chaim Rumkowski will parallel and produce mixed emotions of those familiar with him.
“King Chaim” was chosen by the Nazis to be Judenrat in charge of the ghetto government to maintain order and control all Jewish business within Lodz.
This ghetto was the only one that was not controlled by Hitler’s SS but it was closely watched and monitored by Nazi elites.
Although Lodz was a productive ghetto the work and living conditions were just as bad if not worse than the concentration camps. People were dying from starvation and disease.
Rumkowski began to abuse his liberty as overseer of the ghetto. Although he was a Jew he became polluted by the Nazi ideology.
He began to care more for the needs of himself and his officials than the majority of the ghetto population.
As suspicion and accusation grew he began to have any Jews complaining deported to the death camps.
Once the Nazis began to implement The Final Solution, Rumkowski will be remembered by his famous speech:
“A grievous blow has struck the ghetto. They are asking us to give up the best we possess – the children and the elderly. I was unworthy of having a child of my own, so I gave the best years of my life to children. I’ve lived and breathed with children, I never imagined I would be forced to deliver this sacrifice to the altar with my own hands. In my old age, I must stretch out my hands and beg: Brothers and sisters! Hand them over to me! Fathers and mothers: Give me your children!”
Long story short Rumkowski and his family reaped what he had sown as they were deported and murdered at Auschwitz in August of 1944.
A few months later the Soviet army liberated the ghetto and the 877 remaining survivors.