Ghettostadt: Lódz and the Making of a Nazi City

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Overview

Under the Third Reich, Nazi Germany undertook an unprecedented effort to refashion the city of Łódź. Home to prewar Poland’s second most populous Jewish community, this was to become a German city of enchantment—a modern, clean, and orderly showcase of urban planning and the arts. Central to the undertaking, however, was a crime of unparalleled dimension: the ghettoization, exploitation, and ultimate annihilation of the city’s entire Jewish population.

Ghettostadt is the terrifying examination of the Jewish ghetto’s place in the Nazi worldview. Exploring ghetto life in its broadest context, it deftly maneuvers between the perspectives and actions of Łódź’s beleaguered Jewish community, the Germans who oversaw and administered the ghetto’s affairs, and the “ordinary” inhabitants of the once Polish city. Gordon Horwitz reveals patterns of exchange, interactions, and interdependence within the city that are stunning in their extent and intimacy. He shows how the Nazis, exercising unbounded force and deception, exploited Jewish institutional traditions, social divisions, faith in rationality, and hope for survival to achieve their wider goal of Jewish elimination from the city and the world. With unusual narrative force, the work brings to light the crushing moral dilemmas facing one of the most significant Jewish communities of Nazi-occupied Eastern Europe, while simultaneously exploring the ideological underpinnings and cultural, economic, and social realities within which the Holocaust took shape and flourished.

This lucid, powerful, and harrowing account of the daily life of the “new” German city, both within and beyond the ghetto of Łódź, is an extraordinary revelation of the making of the Holocaust.

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Editorial Reviews

Choice

Horwitz has written an indispensable account of the _ód_ Ghetto, juxtaposing the Nazi objective of making _ód_, renamed Litzmannstadt, a city "cleansed" of Jews, with the exploitation of its ghetto labor.
— J. Fischel

New Republic

In this rich and suggestive book, Horwitz tells a tale of two cities: Litzmannstadt, the Nazi name for Lodz, which was to be a model for a German future, and the Ghetto, a doomed remnant of a sordid past. The two were linked: for Litzmannstadt to succeed, the Ghetto and its Jews had to disappear...What makes Horwitz's book so illuminating is his urban perspective. He tells how mass murder unfolded in the context of a particular city...[A] very important book.
— Samuel D. Krassow

Boston Globe

Ghettostadt is wrenching, absolutely heartbreaking. We of course already know the horrific outcome. The Jews then remaining in the ghetto, hoping against hope, did not. Part of the sheer horror of it all is the recounting of daily life, amid disease, hunger, and death, each rumor generating waves of anxiety, anguish, and panic, particularly as deportations increased.
— John Merriman

Irish Times

Beautifully produced, and well-illustrated with contemporary photographs, this is a powerful, though at times a heart-rending account that must be put alongside Harold Marcuse's Legacies of Dachau: The Uses and Abuses of a Concentration Camp and Arno J Mayer's Why Did the Heavens Not Darken: The "Final Solution" in History as an indispensable source for anyone trying to comprehend this appalling time in European history.
— Carla King

Times Literary Supplement

[Horwitz's] ground-up approach has the merit of vividness, and brings home the daily horrors of ghetto life and the impossible ethical choices that faced the inhabitants.
— Mark Mazower

New York Review of Books

"Litzmannstadt, City of the Future," was designated by Hitler as a special center of urban development. As resources were poured in from the Reich, it would, declared its new German mayor, become a magnet for German immigrants from the East. And yet, as Gordon J. Horwitz points out in Ghettostadt, his brilliantly readable book on the city during World War II, there was a dark side to this glowing picture, a side barely mentioned at all by the mayor and his cohorts. For the process of becoming German also involved ridding the city of its Jews...Horwitz's vivid narrative makes effective use of unpublished sources in German, Yiddish, and Polish to paint a detailed picture of how the German population was strengthened by more than 20,000 ethnic German immigrants from Galicia, Volhynia, and further afield, within a few months of the German conquest. The Jews were removed from their sight by being forced into a ghetto.
— Richard J. Evans

Christian Science Monitor

[A] chilling new history...Ghettostadt is more than just another recounting of the horrors of the Holocaust. Surprisingly, it is the first English-language study of the Łódź ghetto. Horwitz relies on a rich mix of primary sources—including diaries, testimonies, and memoirs of the Łódź Jews themselves—to tell the story of the Łódź ghetto in a fashion that is as thorough and compelling as it is horrifying.
— Matthew Shaer

Moment

This is a remarkable book. With honorable modesty and an unerring tone, Gordon J. Horwitz has accomplished something quite rare and important. In a single book he conveys the awesome scale of the Holocaust—with its multitudes of victims and its long years of suffering and dread—while also emphasizing the particularity of individual experiences. This meticulously researched work makes us familiar with the uncommon lives of men, women and children as they were herded to a common tragic fate.
— Michael T. Kaufman

Charles S. Maier
Gordon Horwitz's unflinching and heartbreaking narrative of occupied Łódź juxtaposes the Nazi plans for its urban "cleansing" and renewal with the inexorable destruction of its ghettoized Jewish community. Even after so many accounts and interpretations of the Holocaust, we owe Horwitz a great debt as he dispassionately examines the most contentious issues, including the notorious role of Ghetto administrator Chaim Rumkowski, the negligible options for resistance, and the vain hope of playing for time.
Boston Globe - John Merriman
Ghettostadt is wrenching, absolutely heartbreaking. We of course already know the horrific outcome. The Jews then remaining in the ghetto, hoping against hope, did not. Part of the sheer horror of it all is the recounting of daily life, amid disease, hunger, and death, each rumor generating waves of anxiety, anguish, and panic, particularly as deportations increased.
Times Literary Supplement - Mark Mazower
[Horwitz's] ground-up approach has the merit of vividness, and brings home the daily horrors of ghetto life and the impossible ethical choices that faced the inhabitants.
Jeffrey Herf
A finely-wrought reconstruction of everyday life and death in the Łódź Ghetto. Horwitz is that most welcome of historians, one who conveys minute details while keeping in view the large political and moral issues they raise. This powerful book takes a prominent place in the ongoing discussion of what the Jews could and could not do to save themselves in the face of the Nazi determination to murder them all.
New York Review of Books - Richard J. Evans
"Litzmannstadt, City of the Future," was designated by Hitler as a special center of urban development. As resources were poured in from the Reich, it would, declared its new German mayor, become a magnet for German immigrants from the East. And yet, as Gordon J. Horwitz points out in Ghettostadt, his brilliantly readable book on the city during World War II, there was a dark side to this glowing picture, a side barely mentioned at all by the mayor and his cohorts. For the process of becoming German also involved ridding the city of its Jews...Horwitz's vivid narrative makes effective use of unpublished sources in German, Yiddish, and Polish to paint a detailed picture of how the German population was strengthened by more than 20,000 ethnic German immigrants from Galicia, Volhynia, and further afield, within a few months of the German conquest. The Jews were removed from their sight by being forced into a ghetto.
Michael R. Marrus
This wonderful history examines the Nazis' effort to transform the bustling , energetic metropolis of Łódź, with its 200,000 Jews, into the German-dominated Litzmannstadt -- from which the Jews were to disappear. Ghettostadt is a splendid, clear-eyed, detailed, and masterful look at the human and urban landscape of the teeming Jewish world the Nazis destroyed.
Times Higher Education Supplement

It is remarkable that Ghettostadt: Lodz and the Making of a Nazi City is the first English-language study of the Lodz ghetto and Gordon Horwitz is the first scholar to draw together the mass of material that has been published or come to light since the appearance of the ghetto chronicle in 1984. Moreover, Horwitz synthesises the history of both the ghetto and the city. Few local studies in this genre (Auschwitz is the exception) have dared to attempt anything so ambitious...He brilliantly juxtaposes what passed for life in the ghetto with the fun and games on the "Aryan" side. His knack of being authoritative and heart-rending at the same time lifts this book above mere history; it is a fitting memorial to a Lodz that is no more.
— David Cesarani

Irish Times - Carla King
Beautifully produced, and well-illustrated with contemporary photographs, this is a powerful, though at times a heart-rending account that must be put alongside Harold Marcuse's Legacies of Dachau: The Uses and Abuses of a Concentration Camp and Arno J Mayer's Why Did the Heavens Not Darken: The "Final Solution" in History as an indispensable source for anyone trying to comprehend this appalling time in European history.
Times Higher Education Supplement - David Cesarani
It is remarkable that Ghettostadt: Lodz and the Making of a Nazi City is the first English-language study of the Lodz ghetto and Gordon Horwitz is the first scholar to draw together the mass of material that has been published or come to light since the appearance of the ghetto chronicle in 1984. Moreover, Horwitz synthesises the history of both the ghetto and the city. Few local studies in this genre (Auschwitz is the exception) have dared to attempt anything so ambitious...He brilliantly juxtaposes what passed for life in the ghetto with the fun and games on the "Aryan" side. His knack of being authoritative and heart-rending at the same time lifts this book above mere history; it is a fitting memorial to a Lodz that is no more.
Choice - J. Fischel
Horwitz has written an indispensable account of the _ód_ Ghetto, juxtaposing the Nazi objective of making _ód_, renamed Litzmannstadt, a city "cleansed" of Jews, with the exploitation of its ghetto labor.
Christian Science Monitor - Matthew Shaer
[A] chilling new history...Ghettostadt is more than just another recounting of the horrors of the Holocaust. Surprisingly, it is the first English-language study of the Łódź ghetto. Horwitz relies on a rich mix of primary sources--including diaries, testimonies, and memoirs of the Łódź Jews themselves--to tell the story of the Łódź ghetto in a fashion that is as thorough and compelling as it is horrifying.
Moment - Michael T. Kaufman
This is a remarkable book. With honorable modesty and an unerring tone, Gordon J. Horwitz has accomplished something quite rare and important. In a single book he conveys the awesome scale of the Holocaust--with its multitudes of victims and its long years of suffering and dread--while also emphasizing the particularity of individual experiences. This meticulously researched work makes us familiar with the uncommon lives of men, women and children as they were herded to a common tragic fate.
New Republic - Samuel D. Krassow
In this rich and suggestive book, Horwitz tells a tale of two cities: Litzmannstadt, the Nazi name for Lodz, which was to be a model for a German future, and the Ghetto, a doomed remnant of a sordid past. The two were linked: for Litzmannstadt to succeed, the Ghetto and its Jews had to disappear...What makes Horwitz's book so illuminating is his urban perspective. He tells how mass murder unfolded in the context of a particular city...[A] very important book.
Times Higher Education Supplement
It is remarkable that Ghettostadt: Lodz and the Making of a Nazi City is the first English-language study of the Lodz ghetto and Gordon Horwitz is the first scholar to draw together the mass of material that has been published or come to light since the appearance of the ghetto chronicle in 1984. Moreover, Horwitz synthesises the history of both the ghetto and the city. Few local studies in this genre (Auschwitz is the exception) have dared to attempt anything so ambitious...He brilliantly juxtaposes what passed for life in the ghetto with the fun and games on the "Aryan" side. His knack of being authoritative and heart-rending at the same time lifts this book above mere history; it is a fitting memorial to a Lodz that is no more.
— David Cesarani
New York Review of Books
"Litzmannstadt, City of the Future," was designated by Hitler as a special center of urban development. As resources were poured in from the Reich, it would, declared its new German mayor, become a magnet for German immigrants from the East. And yet, as Gordon J. Horwitz points out in Ghettostadt, his brilliantly readable book on the city during World War II, there was a dark side to this glowing picture, a side barely mentioned at all by the mayor and his cohorts. For the process of becoming German also involved ridding the city of its Jews...Horwitz's vivid narrative makes effective use of unpublished sources in German, Yiddish, and Polish to paint a detailed picture of how the German population was strengthened by more than 20,000 ethnic German immigrants from Galicia, Volhynia, and further afield, within a few months of the German conquest. The Jews were removed from their sight by being forced into a ghetto.
— Richard J. Evans
Christian Science Monitor
[A] chilling new history...Ghettostadt is more than just another recounting of the horrors of the Holocaust. Surprisingly, it is the first English-language study of the Łódź ghetto. Horwitz relies on a rich mix of primary sources--including diaries, testimonies, and memoirs of the Łódź Jews themselves--to tell the story of the Łódź ghetto in a fashion that is as thorough and compelling as it is horrifying.
— Matthew Shaer
Moment
This is a remarkable book. With honorable modesty and an unerring tone, Gordon J. Horwitz has accomplished something quite rare and important. In a single book he conveys the awesome scale of the Holocaust--with its multitudes of victims and its long years of suffering and dread--while also emphasizing the particularity of individual experiences. This meticulously researched work makes us familiar with the uncommon lives of men, women and children as they were herded to a common tragic fate.
— Michael T. Kaufman
Irish Times
Beautifully produced, and well-illustrated with contemporary photographs, this is a powerful, though at times a heart-rending account that must be put alongside Harold Marcuse's Legacies of Dachau: The Uses and Abuses of a Concentration Camp and Arno J Mayer's Why Did the Heavens Not Darken: The "Final Solution" in History as an indispensable source for anyone trying to comprehend this appalling time in European history.
— Carla King
Boston Globe
Ghettostadt is wrenching, absolutely heartbreaking. We of course already know the horrific outcome. The Jews then remaining in the ghetto, hoping against hope, did not. Part of the sheer horror of it all is the recounting of daily life, amid disease, hunger, and death, each rumor generating waves of anxiety, anguish, and panic, particularly as deportations increased.
— John Merriman
New Republic
In this rich and suggestive book, Horwitz tells a tale of two cities: Litzmannstadt, the Nazi name for Lodz, which was to be a model for a German future, and the Ghetto, a doomed remnant of a sordid past. The two were linked: for Litzmannstadt to succeed, the Ghetto and its Jews had to disappear...What makes Horwitz's book so illuminating is his urban perspective. He tells how mass murder unfolded in the context of a particular city...[A] very important book.
— Samuel D. Krassow
Choice
Horwitz has written an indispensable account of the _ód_ Ghetto, juxtaposing the Nazi objective of making _ód_, renamed Litzmannstadt, a city "cleansed" of Jews, with the exploitation of its ghetto labor.
— J. Fischel
Times Literary Supplement
[Horwitz's] ground-up approach has the merit of vividness, and brings home the daily horrors of ghetto life and the impossible ethical choices that faced the inhabitants.
— Mark Mazower
Publishers Weekly

The Nazis' use of bureaucracy to achieve their genocidal aims comes through clearly in this historical tour de force. The Nazis attempted to "re-engineer" the Polish city of Lódz, home to more than 230,000 Jews (one-third of the city's population) before the war, into a model-and Judenfrei-German city embodying health and beauty they called Litzmannstadt. This required forcing the Jews into a ghetto with the help of Jewish leaders, especially the arrogant, dictatorial and reportedly lascivious industrialist Chaim Rumkowski. With a graceful style rare in academic history, Horwitz, an associate professor of history at Illinois Wesleyan University, marshals a host of primary sources to highlight the gradual destruction of the ghetto. Rumkowski and many ghetto residents hoped that by providing labor for the Nazi war effort, the Lódz Jews would be kept alive until the defeat of the Germans. At the same time, Horwitz employs eyewitness accounts to show how the Jewish community coped with starvation and disease, and tried to make sense of its terrible conditions. Horwitz's understated prose helps put into relief the full horror of these events. 20 color and 12 b&w illus., 2 maps. (May)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780674045545
  • Publisher: Harvard University Press
  • Publication date: 5/1/2010
  • Pages: 416
  • Sales rank: 966,864
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Gordon J. Horwitz is Associate Professor of History at Illinois Wesleyan University.
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Table of Contents

Prologue 1

1 Autumn 1939: Conquest 8

2 A City without Jews 30

3 The Enclosure 62

4 The Ghetto Will Endure 91

5 The Ghetto and the City of the Future 113

6 Banishment 143

7 Departure, Worry, and Disappearance 159

8 "Give Me Your Children" 192

9 Who Shall Live and Who Shall Die? 232

10 Numbered Are the Days 266

Epilogue 311

Notes 325

Acknowledgments 383

Index 385

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