Collected Memories of the Holocaust



Life in the Lodz Ghetto


  • born in 1925 in Lodz, Poland
  • family: parents Chaim (d. 10 Jul 1942 from Unterernährung, i.e. malnutrition) and Jentla (d. 14 Jan 1943 from Urämie, i.e. uremia) Pisarek; sister Manya, fate unknown
  • address in Lodz pre-war: ul. Kamienna 10
  • addresses in Lodz Ghetto (German):
    Sulzfelderstrasse 100 Flat 12;
    Mühlgasse 31 Flat 27 (10 Jan 1942-3 Nov 1944)
  • inhabitant of the Lodz Ghetto
  • inmate at Buchenwald Concentration Camp


The city of Lodz was captured by the Wehrmacht on 8 Sep 1939. The ghetto was created and was opened on 8 Feb 1940, closing a few months later, on 1 May 1940. Numerous deportations took place from the ghetto to extermination camps such as Chelmo. The ghetto was liquidated from 10 Jun 1944 to Aug 1944. The ghetto was liberated on 19 Jan 1945. Perhaps 10,000 of the 200,000 Jews who once passed through the Lodz ghetto survived. After liberation by the Soviet army, approximately nine hundred Jews were found alive.

The Germans Come Marching In:

"In 1939 the war broke out. A couple of days later, the Germans marched in, marched in on the main street. They marched in with—everything was motorized—motorcycles and it looked nice to me. Everything became like a parade. I was a kid so I wanted to see a parade. So I went to go look at the parade. My parents didn’t know that I was going. So there had been a shikse over there, a Polish or a German woman. She said, “Here is a Jude,” and she pointed to me, “A Jewish boy!” So I saw what was going on and I snuck back home. Well, it started to come to the point when they started to grab Jewish people, before we were all sent to the ghetto. They grabbed Jewish people to work, to do different things, one being my dad who had been grabbed to work too. My mother had been worried. He didn’t come home on time, you know? When he came home, he told the whole story—they grabbed him to work and they hit him. He didn’t want to talk about it…A year later, they would surround the ghetto with a fence. The people would go into the ghetto. The ghetto was in Baluty, in the northern part of Lodz, in a poorer section."

Working in the Ghetto:

"I can’t remember when they closed the ghetto. At that time we had moved into the ghetto. The Germans looked for tailors, they looked for shoemakers, they looked for cabinet makers, or whatever. And Dad (who had worked as a tailor) got a job in the tailor section. He made German army uniforms. Everything was made for the military. So he took me along because we would get extra bread. And we got extra pay. And my dad had been like a supervisor. They would make different things. And all of a sudden my dad got sick. I remember my dad got sick. Something with the throat. He had been a sick man anyway. In May 1942 he passed away. I lost my job, I couldn’t work without my dad. I didn’t know much. But when I worked with him, he showed me what to do. I had to have a job. I had to work. My mother couldn't work. She had been a homemaker and my sister was younger than me. I got an extra piece of bread when I worked. I got paid too.
Rumkowski had been the eldest of the Juden. He was responsible for the ghetto. So one time he'd been riding in a "droshka" (horse and buggy), they call it. I had made out an application because I wanted a job. So when the droshka stopped, I was a kid, I'd been running (after the droshka). So I got the application ready, and I gave it to him. He gave me a job in the "najwisha wizba controli." This handled the transactions between the Jews and the Germans..."

Left-click on the earphones icon and listen to Alter sing a song he learned in the Lodz ghetto about Chaim Rumkowski ("Rumkovski Khayim"), a sardonic tribute to the head of the Lodz Ghetto Jewish Council, who was responsible for the distribution of food and the organization of Jewish labor there.

The Fliegeralarm:

"So I got a job. The next day I went to work over there. I went to work. They'd been waiting for me (his fellow Jewish workers.) Amazing. I had a dream that there had been a fliegeralarm (air raid/aircraft warning). And then I came to work on my second day, and they (his fellow workers) had been waiting for me. So why were they waiting for me? I had been dreaming about the fliegeralarm, and they pointed the finger at me. They made me a sacrifice for someone else who had forgotten to close the light the night before. And they expected me to take the blame for it because I was new. So they took me to jail. And I was thinking that I would get killed because of that, because when there is a fliegeralarm, you shouldn't have any lights on.

So they took me to jail and my mother didn't know anything about it. Nobody knew nothing. A couple of hours later, they let me out. Some women had interceded for me. I don't know who it was, I didn't see the women. But I figured that it was an angel who interceded for me. And when I came home, I didn't tell my mother anything. Quiet. I didn't say anything. Six months later, after the death of my dad, my mother started to get sick. She got pneumonia. We three dummies, me, my sister and my cousin. We looked at our mother suffering. We couldn't do anything. All of a sudden, she calls my cousin over to her bed. Herschel was his name. He was two months older than me. I don't know what she said to him. Then she called me. And she said, 'Good angels have been watching over you.' That's what she said. And she fell asleep and never woke up. So this happened seven months after my father had died.

Herschele, Food, and the Work Project in Czestochowa:

"My mother had five sisters and two brothers. They all went into the ghetto except my grandfather who had passed away probably in the late thirties. I don't know how she got word to my mother, that my mother should come and pick up one of her boys. She had typhus. We went to the place where they had been living, that had been quarantined. So my mother went and tore the quarantine tape away and went in and took Herschel. His mother--I don't know what one sister told the other--but Herschel went home with us. My mother had an acquaintance where they served food, and they gave Herschel a job as a cook. A short time later, my mother passed away. So we were stranded, three kids, not knowing what to do.

Herschele had been working in the kitchen. And the Germans caught him and other people who were able-bodied, to send them away to work. I can't remember exactly how it happened. I figured that I should go instead of Herschel. It was better that Herschel stay working in the kitchen, that my sister would have extra food to eat. I told my sister that Herschel will take care of you. If not, you go to my aunt Adele, my mother's youngest sister. So I went in where the people were waiting together for the transport to look for my cousin Herschel. I couldn't find him, but I couldn't get out anymore. So the others in the group teased me, that I should volunteer. I didn't volunteer. I had the idea to switch with him.

Well, I didn't have what people had who were scheduled to go on the transport. People took a lot of suitcases, tallises and tefillin. They took a lot, like they were going on vacation. They took along a lot of stuff. I didn't have anything to carry but myself. So we came to Chenstochov. And when we arrived it was the evening and they had bread ready for us. So I stayed in line and grabbed one portion of bread. Then I waited a little longer and went again on line and got a second portion. It tasted so good, I said I have to go back for another. We were just supposed to get 250 grams of bread. I wasn't the only one who took two or three portions of bread. I didn't get caught, and the others didn't get caught either. Who knows how many people didn't get bread because of this. Well the people in charge started to curse, and they had to send out for more bread.

After that, we went into the barracks. There were bunk beds filled with straw to lie on. People with belongings put it under their head when they lied down. I didn't have anything to put under my head. I didn't think... When I woke up in the morning, I noticed spots of blood on my body, like some things had sucked by blood, lice or whatever. I washed my shirt and put it back on because I didn't have a change of clothing.

Well, we had been assigned to unload cement from the railroad. And it was fifty pound bags of cement I helped unload. It was lunchtime and we sat down because we didn't get any food for lunch. And not far from where we'd been standing there was a Polish factory. I don't know what kind of factory, but something came into my mind, that I should get myself into the factory. I watched the SS as they marched around, back and forth. As soon as they turned around, I went down to the Polish factory. And right away they gave me food. A bowl of soup (with pork). And it was so good. And they gave me another bowl. And I was sick. I was full, my whole stomach. I felt like I was carrying a ton of stuff in my stomach. Then I had to look carefully when I went back, so I shouldn't be recognized. So I succeeded in making it back, but I became as sick as a dog. So we got a Czechoslovakian doctor, a Jewish doctor. And a dispensary. They had a dispensary. He said, "All I can give you is an aspirin." He gave me the aspirin, but I still was sick. I couldn't even eat my own portion of bread. I had to give it to my friend beside me. He ate it.

One day, the railroad wagons came. They were full of feed for the animals. We all had to go into the wagons. And they closed the wagons, and we were on our way to Buchenwald."


Life in Pre-War Lodz Life in the Lodz Ghetto Tales from Buchenwald Liberation After the War DP Camps

Site Map            Holocaust Main Page            Feedback            Opportunities            Holocaust Links



Copyright © 2007 Museum of Family History. All rights reserved. Image Use Policy