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Front: Tan paper with writing in pencil and blue ink, pink stamps in upper lefthand and lower righthand corners, and a pencil signature. Back: Blue cursive writing. Information Provided by Michael D. Bulmash: Four arrest warrants bearing Vilna (Vilnius: Lithuanian) Ghetto hand stamp in violet and red. Of the more than 60,000 Jews living in Vilnius before the German occupation, 21,000 were murdered over the course of the summer of 1941 by German troops, Einsatzgruppen A, and their Lithuanian collaborators. The effort was to establish a ghetto to imprison all Jews of Vilna and suburbs in the old Jewish quarter of the city. The area was split into two Ghettos, referred to as the Large and Small Ghettos, to implement the process of dehumanization, exploitation of the population for slave labor, and systematic extermination of all the Jewish residents. As in other ghettos created by the Nazis, conditions were intentionally overcrowded and unsanitary, with disease, hunger, and daily death as expectable outcomes. The Small Ghetto was liquidated by the end of October, 1941, leaving approximately 20,000 Jews remaining in the Large Ghetto. Jacob Gens was appointed head of the Ghetto administration. A former police chief, he set about establishing medical care, cultural and welfare systems for the Ghetto. Like Rumkowski in the Lodz Ghetto, he hoped that if Jews could prove themselves to be a productive workforce for the Nazis, then the Ghetto's destruction would be delayed. Germans continued to murder Ghetto Jews--typically the elderly and infirm--on a regular basis. Under Himmler's orders, deporations to concentration camps in Poland and slave labor camps began in the summer of 1943, along with mass shootings in the Ponary Forest. At the slave labor camp known as HKP, Wehrmacht Major Kalr Plagge was heroically able to shield many of the Jewish workers from murder at the hands of the Nazis. The extraordinary privations notwithstanding, Vilna was known for its sustained cultural and intellectual life. It maintained a substantial library, ran theatrical productions, sports events, magazines, poetry readings, and more. Vilna Ghetto was also known for its underground partisan organization, the FPO, formed in 1942 and head by Abba Kovner and Josef Glazman and Yitzhak Wittenberg, its motto was "We will not go like sheep to the slaughter," thus attempting to establish a means for Jewish self-defense. Ultimately they pursued a policy of sending members out to join partisan units in the forest.
3 1/2 x 7"
Stamp, Warrant, Arrest, Ghetto, Vilna, Vilnius, Lithuania, Deportation, Ponary Forest, HKP, Jacob Gens
"Arrest Warrant from Vilna Ghetto" (1942). Bulmash Family Holocaust Collection. 2015.2.111.