The Warsaw Ghetto

In September 1939 the Germans took control of Poland and Warsaw after a three week siege. There was no love lost between the Germans and the Poles and it soon became clear that the Nazis, considering themselves a 'Master Race', valued Polish life at next to nothing. As was later demonstrated, on an unprecedented scale, this was one step up from the value they put on Jewish life.

As early as November 1939 in Warsaw the first decrees intended to denigrate the Jewish people were issued by the Nazis - the most notable of which was that all Jews over the age of twelve years were forced to identify themselves by wearing a Star of David on their sleeve. These first measures were just the start of a long process however, and with more edicts issued every month it wasn't long before the Jews were reduced to the status of slaves and chattel. They were forbidden to work in either key industries or government institutions, to bake bread, to earn more than 500 zloty a month, to travel by train or trolley-bus, to leave the city limits without special permits, to possess gold or jewellery, plus all Jewish shops and enterprises had also to be marked with the Star of David. In addition to these official oppressions, Jews were summarily humiliated, beaten or even executed for little or spurious reason. In short they lived their lives in a state of constant fear.

Plans for a Jewish ghetto had in fact existed since the beginning of the Nazi occupation of Warsaw, but in October 1940 they finally began to take form. A small district South West of the Old Town, in the centre of the city, was chosen and 113,000 Poles were evacuated to make way for Warsaw's 400,000 Jews. Thirty percent of the city's population were now living in an area that constituted less than three square miles, or 2.4 % of the capital. In November that area was closed off by a formidable wall, topped with barbed wire.

Life in the ghetto started off tough and quickly got worse. At first some semblance of normal life presided: cafes were still open, newspapers published (newspapers from 'the outside' were forbidden), school lessons took place and people strived to continual a normal existence as best as they could. Those who had managed to hold on to any of their wealth in particular were able to live in a small degree of comfort. Smuggling food into the ghetto was common, either by bribing guards at the gates, or carrying it in via underground canals - whilst poorer people would send their children over to the 'Aryan side' to steal what they could. The official food ration of around 200 calories a day per person was less than 10 percent of the ration for Germans (and about 25% of the ration for Poles).

As more and more Jews were brought in from the neighbouring towns and villages, conditions became yet more cramped. Money for bribes was drying out (and was only ever the privilege of a few) and the poor people of the ghetto, skeletal and wretched, began starving en masse. In addition to death by starvation a typhoid epic, caused by the poor sanitary conditions, broke out; meaning that by April 1941 the mortality rate in the ghetto was a staggering six thousand people per month. Funeral carts would come and collect the bodies every morning, between 4-5am; mostly the corpses were dumped naked on the streets - the families were forced to strip their relatives in order to sell the clothes.

Whilst the Jews in the ghetto were dying, they weren't dying quickly enough as far as Berlin was concerned. Hitler's original plans to ship all European Jews to Africa were proved impractical, and so it was that the chilling 'Final Solution' was decided upon, early in 1942. Between July and September of that year 300,000 ghetto Jews were transported to the Treblinka Extermination Camp, in the Nazis first mass deportation effort. At first few believed, including the Jews themselves, that the rumours of these death camps were real - preferring to believe that they being sent to hard labour camps. Eventually the evidence that was fed back (by escapees from the camps and by various secret agents and journalists) became irrefutable. The 60,000 remaining occupants of the ghetto had no choice but to confront the awful truth.

When the Nazis prepared to organise a second deportation to Treblinka in 1943 the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising began.

* Several survivors of the ghetto are still alive today. And out of respect to all the internees of the ghetto, we kindly ask that reviewers write only essential comments. Thank you.

This article on the Warsaw Ghetto is meant to be an informative introduction to Warsaw's history for travellers, and is not meant to be used for academic research. Please do not use it for any academic papers, but instead refer to published academic works and textbooks.*


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Gracie from United States Reply Feb 1st, 2016

This helped alot for the paper I am doing for a class. I hate the horrible things the Nazis did to the Jews. It makes me sick to my stomach

jeff from United Kingdom Reply Jan 28th, 2016

It helped me a lot.

Deryck from United States Reply Dec 7th, 2015

good for a essay that I am writing

Ollie from United States Reply Oct 3rd, 2015

Just another article referencing the fact that most of the people who experienced this, whether they lived or died, had no political motives and had to pay the ultimate price for the narrow-minded whims of those in power. Until we eliminate borders and boundaries and restrictions caused by intolerance of different kinds of people we can never ensure ourselves that history would not repeat itself.

Rob C from United Kingdom Reply Jun 3rd, 2015

This helped me with my history HW, thanks.

Harmony from United Kingdom Reply May 31st, 2015

An incredibly handy website that is really educational but throws a new perspective on life in the ghetto. Thank you!

Irene Nielsen from United States Reply Apr 16th, 2015

Did you have any contact or knowledge of the work done by Irena Sendler? Beyond the book Life in a Jar, can you share important experiences of rescue? Thank you. Gratefully, Irene

liz from United States Reply Apr 14th, 2015

Work on spelling please :)

Jasmine from United Kingdom Reply Apr 8th, 2015

This helped me on my English project as well. Thanks

Lily from United States Reply Apr 1st, 2015

This helped me on my literature assignment, thanks.

Resh from United States Reply Feb 13th, 2015

This just makes me sick to the stomache and just curl in a ball and cry for all the people who went through this. The information of this article helped me understand more about World War II so thank you.

A. Derrin from Germany Reply Jan 30th, 2015

The " Final Solution " should have been the " First Solution "

Paul from United Kingdom Jul 22nd, 2015

A Derrin, you are a horrible human being please do not leave comments like this again

James from United Kingdom Reply Jan 24th, 2015

This article helped me with my history assignment, thanks a lot.

Sophia from United States Reply Nov 21st, 2014

wow thanks helped me a lot now i can finish my paper:)

Shen from United States Reply Nov 18th, 2014

Decent article, it provided a good deal of information.

Anushka from United Kingdom Reply Jun 2nd, 2014

I love this article! It has helped me a lot with my history assignment. Thanks to whowever wrote it

Jesse from United States Reply Apr 28th, 2014

This was not helpful!! I found no info that related to how warsaw was like back then.

selina from Germany Reply Jan 30th, 2014

this was not helpful i found no info that related to how warsaw was like back then.

Charlene from United Kingdom Reply Jan 20th, 2014


Hans from Germany Reply Nov 8th, 2013

That is so terrible what they did

Nick from Australia Reply Sep 18th, 2013

Wow! This has so much information! This has really helped with my humanities assignment! Thanks a lot!

stanley userbot from New Zealand Reply Jul 31st, 2013

this was very handy helped a lot

andrea from France Reply May 21st, 2013

this is good info thank you

shahn from United Kingdom Reply Apr 30th, 2013

So helpful, thankyou so much, had a massive essay to do as well! :))))

brooke from United States Reply Apr 11th, 2013

this is a good article

from United States Reply Apr 10th, 2013

Great information!

*~* from United States Reply Apr 9th, 2013

As stated before, accuracy helps, 184 calories and not 200 calories for rations. Despite this, it is very informative, and it's free information, of course people are using it for academic research!

jsvkjvksdbgjsdjvbd from United States Reply Apr 9th, 2013

ths helped for my 500 ward report a lot

from United States Reply Apr 7th, 2013

Extremely helpful

Paola Oporto from United States Reply Apr 5th, 2013

What in trying to find is how some eventually saved themselves and how they fought agsints the gremans

tammy tambe from United States Reply Mar 27th, 2013

this site help alot with my paper!! thanks:)

madi14 from United States Reply Mar 14th, 2013

This is tots a 10 it helped me a lot with my research paper thank you so much to who ever wrote this your amazing trust me best site for the warsaw ghetto especially when you have to write 5,000 word research essay!!!!!

Mel from United Kingdom Reply Mar 14th, 2013

Really helpful summary! Thankyou!!!!

Michael W. from United Kingdom Reply Mar 11th, 2013

I believe the daily diet limit in the Warsaw Ghetto was set at only 184 calories per day, by the Nazis. Accuracy helps us to recognize evil again; like the upcoming 20% cut in the overall spending on Disability Living Allowance, (DLA), benefits in the UK, its like the Nazi's T4 program all over again!

Zachary Brown from United States Reply Mar 8th, 2013

Great thank you for the info

Keeryanda uracil from United States Reply Mar 5th, 2013

i Think it really sucked and it smells like egg salad!!

from United States Reply Feb 28th, 2013


Hannah Miller from United States Reply Feb 26th, 2013

This is a very good article! Thanks so much, it helped me a lot with the ten page report i have to do on this topic!!!

from United States Reply Feb 20th, 2013

i will do it for school work if i want

from United States Reply Feb 20th, 2013

it was bad but good

Jaime from United States Reply Feb 19th, 2013

this article was fantastic and has very good information! I am working on a project for school and this gave me lost of information! Since I have to do a 3 page paper!

me from United States Reply Feb 13th, 2013

it was a good article thingy and im working on a project for school and it helped

from United States Reply Feb 14th, 2013

may all the nazis souls burn for eternity

hannah from United Kingdom Reply Jan 25th, 2013

it is really bad i cant believe they did that

amiellla from United States Reply Jan 21st, 2013

Why do you say you rather we not use it for research? What makes it unsuitable for research?

samantha from United States Reply Jan 18th, 2013

it was very goooooood!

ana from Mexico Reply Jan 17th, 2013

that was so awful and stupid

Hailey Willis from United States Reply Jan 17th, 2013

This helped me A LOT with my school powerpoint! Great job to who ever wrote it! :)

lila from United Kingdom Reply Jan 16th, 2013

thanks for the help with my homework

jack from United Kingdom Reply Dec 29th, 2012

lots of intresting facts

blah from Brazil Reply Dec 1st, 2012

da best!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

squishers from Albania Reply Nov 30th, 2012

Great help.Very useful and reliable information!

Lorraine from Canada Reply Nov 24th, 2012

Sounds alot like the gaza ghetto the Zionist created and seem to like

murph from United States Reply Nov 24th, 2012

couldnt find the mortality rate

Freddie McDonald from Australia Reply Nov 16th, 2012

Although there is basically nothing left of the Warsaw Ghetto wall,you can still sense the horror in that place,especially at such places as Ul Próżna and the sites of Pawiak prison and the Umschlagplatz Monument at ul.Stawki.

good from United States Reply Oct 29th, 2012

very sad it helped with my school project

Katie from France Reply Oct 11th, 2012

it is very sad and it never should never have happened this helped with my school project

v. boutch from United States Reply Oct 4th, 2012

we should never forget these atrocities

Rhiannon Haworth from United Kingdom Reply Oct 2nd, 2012

While the article was good, and it provided lots of useful information. However you did not mention the author of the picture, it's date or where the picture was taken.

C from United Kingdom Reply Oct 1st, 2012

good review nothing about the jobs Jews had to do!!!

Rehash from United Kingdom Reply Sep 12th, 2012

it is so sad it made me cry

chloe from United Kingdom Reply Jun 15th, 2012

R.I.P to the people who lost their lives verry sad:(

chloe from United Kingdom Reply Jun 15th, 2012

really horrible what happend it shouled have not happend, and thanks this has really helped me with my homework :)

Reece Washington from United Kingdom Reply May 15th, 2012

very detailed, homework completed!! ;)

Noah Smith from United Kingdom Reply May 15th, 2012

I used this article as research for my school essay. Really helped, thanks a lot.

gracie angel from United States Reply May 8th, 2012

very helpful/sad info here.

unknown from United States Reply Apr 30th, 2012

really good! im doing a report on Warsaw ghetto and this really helped!

Suryaksh from United Kingdom Reply Apr 25th, 2012

its very very sad on what happened to the Jews. they did not deserve it at all :(

Mr. Sandusky from Niger Reply Apr 11th, 2012

I found it helpful in my writing of a research paper about the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising

Nicole from United States Reply Apr 10th, 2012

. That is veey sad what they did to them they didnt deserve that , they was like any normal person . what happend if they did that to the people that was doing it to them they wouldnt like it , i just bet they wouldnt ! -sgan

Sarah from United States Reply Apr 3rd, 2012

Thanks to Warsaw-Life team! This reeeeallly helped my note taking for a big research paper. It would help me in citing you if I knew the author of this article. Very informative, but some information was comparable to other websites and books I have read.

from United States Reply Apr 3rd, 2012


Cole from Australia Reply Apr 1st, 2012

Who wrote this? its amazing but who wrote it?

Unknown from United States Reply Mar 26th, 2012

I think that this article was great,however I think that you coule have used a bit more detail to describe the ghettos. Great Work!

doglover from United States Reply Mar 21st, 2012

I liked it very much! I needed to do a report on jews in poland and this helped me A LOT! Thanks

Anna Thompson from United Kingdom Reply Mar 14th, 2012

Honestly, some parts were good and very factual, but I wanted to hear, in simple words yet excruciating detail, about what happened inside the ghetto. My homework remains unfinished!

Sumbal from India Reply Mar 12th, 2012

I no like this at all. Very boring. And why should not i use this academic purposes i can do what i want whenever i want.

rayven from United States Reply Mar 7th, 2012

This article was fine...!

christian2015 from United States Reply Feb 22nd, 2012

this is really sad but more important is that if you were to die today would you go to heaven?we don't ever know when we are going to die, just like these people

Kimberr:) from United States Reply Feb 22nd, 2012

Thought that it was very helpful and very detailed!

:(:) from Algeria Reply Feb 19th, 2012

i think it was a fantastic web-site! it gave me all the info i needed, and much much more! :)

lmfao loves it! from United States Reply Feb 11th, 2012

I'm working on my ghetto project in american studies,and I thought this website was very helpful!

:) (: :( ): from United States Reply Feb 9th, 2012

it's okay, but i mean, i already knew most of this stuff. Plus the question i wanted answered was not in this article. In fact none of my questions were answered. I would recommend it to people who don't know a whole lot about the holocaust, but it didn't help me at all. I really expected more from the other comments i read. NOT GOOD!!!!!!!!!! :( :( :( :( :( :(

Jenn from United States Reply Feb 9th, 2012

This was very good! great details! This really helped me for my project! I had to get info about the Warsaw Ghetto, and this was perfect.

Abigail Lee from United Kingdom Reply Jan 26th, 2012

This is a good informative piece of writing but it didn't give me all the answers i needed, i would suggest this for some consequences but this does not cover all the subjects on ghettos.

Olga Stephnovia Radchuk from Poland Reply Jan 22nd, 2012

My biological father Stephen Radchuk died trying to fight for freedom for Poland, and my mom Olyssa died shortly after she was captured. How would i try to find my dads name on the ghetto wall in Warsaw Poland. Where can i find my dads name.

Joe from United Kingdom Reply Jan 10th, 2012

Could some one please do a citation MLA style for this article.

Dont Worry Boutit from United States Reply Dec 6th, 2011

I mean the holocaust was awful we all know that you dont need to read some article to tell you that. Everything that the Nazis did to those people were just plain mean I dont understand why someone would do that. If they think they were true Christians they are completlly wrong, they would have never done that if they belived in Jesus like a true Christian. BUT THEY DONT. but anyway i just read this because i had to make a powerpoint on the holocaust in English since we're reading Night. (if you read all of this you have no life, im just procrastinating)

crystal from United States Reply Dec 1st, 2011

this didnt talk anything about the life in the ghetto!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Biannca from United States Reply Nov 22nd, 2011

pretty cool and informative :)

Felicia from United States Reply Nov 5th, 2011

This is a great article gave me a lot of answers to questions i had. Thanks for helping me with my homework. Also, I would just like to point out that not all christians hated jews. Nor do they today. As a christian, i would like to say that the bible says we are all equal, and all deserve the same rights. Those nazi's who said they were christians weren't probably real christians because somebody who TRULLY believes in God's word, would not carry through with the horrible deeds that they performed.

Elliot of PVMS from United States Reply Oct 3rd, 2011

i think that what happen'd was horrible, i'm glad its over. and good article.

Joseph from United Kingdom Reply Sep 7th, 2011

Brilliant, very well written, very helpful. I didn't know Hitler had plans to ship the Jews to Africa! Learn something new every day.. Ignore these morons on the comments, I think you have done a great job. 10/10!

kkkk from United States Reply Sep 2nd, 2011

Goood (:

Joe from Rockledge, Florida from United States Reply Aug 7th, 2011

Virtually no one alive today in the United States can imagine the horror and inhumanity that the Jews of Poland suffered during the second world war. It is a great benefit to humanity and particularly to those who still live in freedom to be aware of all that happens when a totalitarian regime controls people. Lest we forget, the very same fate that befell the Jews of Poland in 1939 - 1945 could happen anywhere - including Americaor the UK at any time in the future.

Bert from United Kingdom Reply Jun 22nd, 2011

Fantastic review and really informative!!

I LOVE JUSTIN BIEBER from United States Reply Jun 21st, 2011

this is absolutely incredible thank you so much you have a true talent with information it helped me soo much! i defiantly recommend other people to read it :) xxo

asif gudhan from Bulgaria Reply Jun 12th, 2011

this helped me great deal saince i had to write a essay about the holocaust! thanks very much!

polina scimone from United States Reply Jun 3rd, 2011

hey I loved the article. I am only 13 and hate to read thing that go on and on and on, but this article was great I wasn't bored at all like I would have been as usually. I was working on the project about it and I got and A+ the teacher asked where I got the info and I told her and she loved it also. I hope that you make more sighs like this, it was be great.

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