The Warsaw Ghetto

Jewish children in the Warsaw Ghetto in 1942

Before World War II started on September 1, 1939, there were 375,000 Jews living in Warsaw, as many as in all of France, and more than in the whole country of Czechoslovakia. Only the city of New York had a larger Jewish population than Warsaw.

The first Jews had settled in Warsaw after King Kasimierz the Great welcomed Jewish refugees from Western Europe to Poland in the 14th century, but during the 15th century they were expelled from the city of Warsaw, just as they were in Krakow. Between 1527 and 1768, Jews were banned from living in Warsaw.

After Poland was partitioned for the third time in 1795 between Russia, Prussia and Austria, the Jews began coming back to Warsaw, which was in the Russian section, and by the start of World War I, Jews made up forty percent of the population of the city. During the 19th century and up until the end of World War I, Warsaw was in the Pale of Settlement where all Russian Jews were forced to live; when Poland regained its independence after World War I, Warsaw was once again a Polish city. From the beginning, the Jewish district was located southeast of Old Town Warsaw.

The Nazis liked to take action against the Jews on Jewish holidays, so it was on Yom Kippur, the Jewish Day of Atonement, that the announcement was made on October 12, 1940 that "Jewish residential quarters" were to be set up in Warsaw. The Ghetto would comprise 2.4 percent of the city's land, but would contain 30% of the city's population, according to the U.S. Holocaust Museum. To create the Ghetto, the Nazis moved 113,000 Christian residents out and moved 138,000 Jewish residents in. The rest of the Warsaw Jews were already living in the neighborhood of the Ghetto.

In the Warsaw Ghetto, 450,000 Jews were forced to live in very crowded conditions. The population of the Ghetto included Jews from the surrounding villages in the General Government of German occupied Poland. The Ghetto was divided into two sections, the Small Ghetto at the southern end and the Large Ghetto on the north. By the time deportations to the extermination camps began, about 100,000 residents of the Ghetto had died of starvation or disease, according to Raul Hilberg.


Ghetto Uprising

Ghetto Heroes

Mila 18

Ghetto Wall

Nozyk Synagogue

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This page was last updated on April 18, 2008