For centuries Jews had been concentrated in specified areas of many European cities, segregated from the surrounding population. They were often required to wear identifying items such as yellow badges or pointed hats. The Third Reich built upon this religious and antisemitic impulse of European ghettoization, creating a ghetto system based on an eliminative racial ideology. Jews were no longer merely persecuted, terrorized, and denied their civil rights and loss of their ability to earn a living. Now they were to be herded like cattle into overcrowded enclosures typically surrounded by fences, walls and barbed wire, denied access to the basic necessities of life, exploited for their labor, and subject to starvation and disease: all as a preliminary step to what the Nazis considered the solution to the "Jewish problem". The specific form of this solution went through several iterations, from mass emigration to plans to ship Jews to Madagascar or to Siberia. Confining Jews to ghettos began in earnest after Germany invaded Poland in September 1939 and 3 million Jews fell into their laps. Reinhard Heydrich had proposed establishing ghettoes near railway lines in large Polish towns, with Jews from the smaller villages as well making up the ghetto population, in the effort to centralize Jews for a presumptive "final solution". Jews would be employed as slave laborers. A counsel of Jewish elders-a Judenrat- would be formed to do the bidding of the German occupation administration, ensuring that initiatives and regulations would be carried out. Jewish "police" were to ensure maximal compliance with Nazi orders, including readying Jews for slave labor or deportation. Conditions were execrable: overcrowding, starvation, disease, and exposure to the elements created high death rates. While this scenario wasn't the much-vaunted Final Solution the Nazis struggled with, it served to contribute to Jewish death without Germans taking full responsibility; indeed, the self-serving Nazi idea that Jews were disease carriers would prove to be self-fulfilling prophesy by virtue of their living conditions alone. After operation Barbarossa and the invasion of the Soviet Union, millions more Jews came under Nazi control, at which point deportation and extermination of Jews in all German occupied territory became the most obvious and desirable solution to the Jewish problem. At Hermann Goring's request, Heydrich chaired the conference at the Wannsee villa in the Berlin suburbs in January, 1942 to coordinate this decision with other Nazi elite. Adolf Eichmann sat quietly taking notes which would be euphemized and sanitized for public consumption.
--Michael D. Bulmash, K1966
Browse the Bulmash Family Holocaust Collection.
Brown half-sheet filled with printed charts and typewritten and handwritten information titled, "Angaben über die Wohnung."
Information Provided by Michael D. Bulmash:
Document attesting to the fact that a Jewish family had been cleared from their apartment, The home is now "entjudet", meaning that this apartment has been cleared of Jews and their belongings. Jewish homes would routinely be confiscated by the Nazis, and given to a German family or used by the military, The Jewish inhabitants would be removed to ghettos or deported to concentration camps. The concept "entjudet " went through a semantic evolution, the term becoming increasingly more sinister under the Nazi regime. It referred to removal of Jews from professional and economic institutions, removing Jewish influence, taking over Jewish firms and property, and finally deportation and murder. "Entjudet" no longer appears in modern German usage.
White metal sign with black German text and border.
Information Provided by Michael D. Bulmash: Text appears larger and subsequently smaller on each of the three lines. 'Krankenhaus IV; des aeltesten der juden; in Litmannstadt-Getto. Bulmash Provided: Judenrat Litzmannstadt Ghetto sign Hospital IV.'
Front:White metal sign with black German text and border. Includes two lines of text with different fonts.Back: Pasted white paper with grid on metal. Grid has various typewritten information in Russian, as well as a black stamp on top, and some handwritten information in blue.
Information Provided by Michael D. Bulmash: Judenrat Litzmannstadt Ghetto sign "Children-Confection."
A black and white photograph depicting a street scene of five boys wearing hats and smiling. Two men in the background wear Jewish armbands.
Information Provided by Michael D. Bulmash: “When we think of innocence afflicted, we see those unforgettable children of the Holocaust staring wide-eyed into the cameras of their killers…” (Inga Clendinnen, Reading the Holocaust, p.14.) This photograph captures a group of ghetto children in Lublin, posed standing at attention, smiling for the German photographer behind the camera. One child appears somewhat contracted, as though resisting the imperatives of the pose, or perhaps sensing something that eludes his friends. His expression mirrors the concern conveyed by the man walking behind, crossing the cobblestone street with his friend, both wearing the obligatory armbands which define them as Jews, doffing their caps: less a sign of respect to the Germans arranging this scene than a requirement.
A black and white photograph of a bearded Jewish man wearing a yellow armband.
A black and white photograph of a Jewish man in a heavy coat wearing a yellow armband.
A black and white photograph of a man using a cane wearing a yellow armband.
A black and white photograph of a man using a cane wearing a yellow armband.
White metal sign for ghetto with text that reads: "Jüdisches Siedlungsgebiet, Stehenbleiben verboten!" ("Jewish settlement, stopping prohibited!")
Front: A black and white photo of a streetcar filled with people. Includes arrows and numbers pointing to a sign on the streetcar.Back: Includes a pasted caption, as well as various stamps and markings with information about the photo.
Information Provided by Michael D. Bulmash: Edited wire photo with information verso: photo of street car in Krakow, Poland, with sections marked for Jews ("fur Juden") and non-Jews ("Nichtjuden"), with a comparison to American Jim Crow laws: "a familiar symbol of race prejudice in our own country".
White paper with typewritten message. Signature in black on lower right, with red circular hand samp to the left of it. Red writing in upper right corner, and writing in pencil on lower left. Pasted stamp with red hand stamp over it on bottom right.
Information Provided by Michael D. Bulmash: Typed document of the Jewish Community of Piotrkow Trybunalski (Petrikau in German) addressed to the Commissar of the city, requesting daily passes for 10 Jewish residents of the Ghetto to be able to work outside of the Ghetto as selectors or sorters in formerly Jewish stores. Hand stamped in red with Der Aelteste Rat der Israelitischen Kultusgemeinde in Petrikau and signed by a member of the Aelteste Rat. Adhesive received stamp in lower right, manuscript notations in German, meaning that the passes were either given out or not. Piotrkow Trybunalski was the first Ghetto established by the Germans soon after the invasion of Poland on September 1, 1939.. The ghetto was liquidated in October 1942, with transports to Treblinka. The rest were sent to labor camps and then to Auschwitz. Of the original 20,000 residents, only about 1400 survived.
Front: A tan card stapled onto a larger green card. Tan card includes typewritten information, as well as several stamps, including a large red Star of David with the word "Jude."Back: A printed chart with writing.
Information Provided by Michael D. Bulmash: A disturbing set of three typed documents (2012.1.44, 2012.1.45, 2012.1.46) from Berlin. Each is ominously stamped "Jude" in a large red Star of David, concerning the life insurance policy of one Margot Lowenstein of Hamburg, who fled Nazi Germany in August 1939 for England. Under German law, Jews who left the country or were forcibly deported were forced to forfeit any benefits or monies due on existing life insurance policies. The document, loosely translated, in part reads: "According to our records, the claimant is a Jew who has left the country and has forfeited her German nationality. At present the above policy is due... We waive the certificate of insurance in the interest of the Reich..." This is a morbid reminder of the lengths the Nazi regime went to bilk Jews out of every last penny.
Tan document titled, "Directory of Jewish Refugees." Includes writing in Chinese and English and a pasted black and white photograph of a woman.
Information Provided by Michael D. Bulmash: A page from the Directory of Jewish Refugees, stamped by the local Committee For Assistance of European Jewish Refugees in Shanghai, formed in 1938 by prominent local Jews with some assistance from the "Joint" in New York. Hinde Gottesfeld, a forty-nine year old German housekeeeper of German nationality, left for Shanghai in 1938 from Vienna. Nazi policy encouraged Jewish emigration from Germany, but other countries were either limiting or denying entry to Jews.
Rare Envelope With Judenrat Hand-Stamp and Litzmannstadt Ghetto Cancel Renaming Polish City of Lodz Litzmannstadt
Window envelope with green postage stamp and two hand stamps.
Information Provided by Michael D. Bulmash: Envelope from the Aelteste der Juden, the Council of Jewish Elders of Litzmannstadt, dated April 11, 1940, with a rare Ghetto Cancel, which reads, "By the common of the Fuhrer this city is named Litzmannstadt."
Front: A sepia-colored photograph of a small brick building with signage over it. Several men stand in front of it.Back: Tan postcard with black printed postcard lines. Includes a message written in pencil and a black hand stamp.
Information Provided by Michael D. Bulmash: A German Fieldpost Cancel on Postcard from the Paul Verdiere Café, from France to Germany. Sent by a German soldier several weeks after the German invasion of France.
Index card with typewritten message in German, red stamp, and blue signature.
Information Provided by Michael D. Bulmash: A card permitting the bearer to witness the execution of Maria Decker. It accompanied a large red execution notice that had been posted in July, 1940.
Front: Tan envelope with writing in black ink. Includes a red postage stamp and black hand stamps.Back: Writing in black ink.
Information Provided by Michael D. Bulmash: This is a provisional issue of German stamps overprinted with "Deutsche Post Osten" for use in the General Government, where overprinting was valid until September 30, 1940. The General Government was ruled by Hans Frank, and included Cracow, Lvov, Radom, Warsaw and Lublin districts. After war with Russia began in June 1941, the General Government became a province of the greater German Empire, which already included Danzig and northern and western areas of Poland.
Postcard with red printed text in French and Chinese at top alongside two red stamps. American address handwritten in blue ink. Message handwritten on opposite side in blue ink.
Information Provided by Michael D. Bulmash:
One of the few places in the world where Jews could seek refuge from the Nazi onslaught was Shanghai, China. Shanghai was an open port, and no visas or passports were required. Mr. Ehrenberg was one of almost 20,000 Jews who lived in the Shanghai ghetto. A mass exodus occurred after Kristallnacht in 1938: more than 12,000 Jwish refugees fled Germany and Austria.
Green postcard lines with message written into pre-printed blanks.
Information Provided by Michael D. Bulmash: A censored postcard written to the Red Cross in Cracow from R.Gutman in Litzmannstadt searching for someone.
Front: Blue envelope with typewritten address. Includes three pasted stamps on left side: two identical red stamps depicting a castle and an orange stamp depicting men in robes with a black Nazi eagle printed over it. Each has a black circular hand stamp over it. Also includes a purple circular hand stamp on bottom left.Back: Includes white censorship tape with alternating purple text and circular hand stamp, as well as a black hand stamp that runs the length of the bottom, as well as several small, purple hand stamps.
Information Provided by Michael D. Bulmash: General Gouvernement franking tied to KROSNO Spetember 30, 1940, addressed to the "Communaute Israelite de Lausanne" with violet cachet Judische Gemeinde (Judenrat) Krosno. As soon as the Germans occupied Krosno on September 9, 1939, all Jews were ordered to leave the city. While some Jews hid in the city or in the countryside, others crossed the river Bug into a "free" zone of the Russians. However, many Jews reappeared in the city, even some of those that crossed the river to the so-called Russian section. The Germans created a "Judenrat," and Jewish police provided slave labor for the German occupiers. The impoverishment of the Jewish community continued, and in early August, 1942, all Jews were ordered to appear th next day at the railway station. A selection was held: the young and able bodieed were spared, the old and sick were taken to the forest and shot, and about a thousand people were deported to Belzec death camp where they all perished.
Front: Tan postcard with message written in purple pencil.Back: Printed postcard lines in brown with writing in purple pencil. Includes pencil markings on the bottom, black circular hand stamps, and a printed stamp on upper right with black Nazi eagle.
Information Provided by Michael D. Bulmash: General Government postcard from Erich Silbermann in the Belzyce Ghetto, Lublin district, to a Dr. Simonsohn in Hamburg, Germany, datelined November 16, 1940.
Front: Children smiling in a street that has been completely uprooted. Man wearing armband in background. Back: Verso: Newspaper clipping and caption taped to back. Associated Press Photo.
Information Provided by Michael D. Bulmash: AP wire photo with news clipping attached verso showing a sample of Jews forced to reside in the Szydlow Ghetto in Poland, recently occupied by the Nazis (December,1940). Pictured are the puzzled faces of the children, as well as adults in the background, one of whom is conspicuous by his white armband which he is required to wear.
Front: A black and white photograph of children smiling in an uprooted street.Back: Includes a taped newspaper clipping and taped caption with purple typewritten text.
Information Provided by Michael D. Bulmash: 1973 wirephoto of the Warsaw Ghetto, 1945, after the Nazis levelled it.
Green booklet, black print, stamp including hammer and sickle on front cover.
[Related items: 2019.2.17, 2019.2.18, 2019.2.19]
Information Provided by Michael D. Bulmash: Peyeya Farberman’s Soviet passport, issued by the NKVD on December 28, 1940, prior to the German occupation in Kamianets Podilskyi, his home town in Ukraine. His passport shows him to be 18 at the time. Inside front cover bears a small identity photo and signature.
Farberman was a young Ukrainian Jew living in Kamianets Podilskyi during the early German occupation of the town. Farberman’s fate is unknown, but Kamianets Podilskyi was the site of an early massacre by the Nazis shortly after the commencement of Operation Barbarossa in 1941. Jeckeln’s Einsatzgruppen and Police Battalion 320, along with Ukrainian Auxiliaries, slaughtered in two days close to 24,000 Jews from the town along with 16,000 Jews removed from Hungary. The killing of Jews continued through 1942, and in November of that year they murdered 500 children by burying them alive in the cemetery. The last of the Jews were murdered in the winter of 1942 and 1943.
An armband worn by a member of the Jewish Ghetto Police.
Information Provided by Michael D. Bulmash: Armband from a Jewish Ghetto, a "Judischer Ordnungsdienst" [Jewish Ghetto Police] once worn by a member of one of the Auxiliary police units organized in the Jewish ghettos of Europe by local Judenrat councils under orders of the occupying Nazis. Members of the Judischer Ordnungsdienst were the Jews themselves, had no officual uniform other than the armband and a badge, and were not allowed to carry firearms. They were used by the Germans primarily for securing the deportation of other Jews to concentration camps.