The Generalgouvernement

After Adolf Hitler signed the Non-Aggression Pact with Stalin, Planned was split into ten administrative districts. The largest district, the central section, including the cites of Lublin Krakow and Warsaw, was set aside as a German colony and came to be called the Generalgouvernement (GG).

The governor of the district was Hans Frank. On October 30, 1939, all the Jews in the Northwestern part of Poland, then called Worthegau and annexed to the Reich, were departed the GG. This forced explosion led to the formation of the ghettoes. 

Compulsory labor was instilled for the Jews in the ghettoes. Hans Frank and the other leaders of the Nazi camp wanted to bring about the rapid end to the Jewish Question and thought that the GG would help. Those who could not be useful and work in hard labor would be confined to its ghettoes. (Kershaw 95) Some of the Jews would then be deported from the GG to extermination camps like the one at Belzac.

When the Germans took over the GG, they transformed it into a so-called ghetto when in actuality it was more like a concentration camp where the Jewish people were forced into hard labor and deprivation. Each separate ghetto was given the semblance of an autonomous administration, rules, and regulations with a Judenrat and Jews Council. This Jewish administration organized the distribution of food and other issues in the ghettoes. These leaders always had to answer back to the Germans. (Lederer 57) They developed other councils and departments to keep track of the Jews in their ghettoes. 

Dr. Siegfried Seidl was the first camp commander. He ordered the first massive executions. The German forces would brutally torture, beat, burn, and sear the body parts of the prisoners of the ghettoes. The Jews were trodden on, had their nails crushed until they came off, were fed to the dogs, and were poisoned. (Lederer 73-75)

The Jews that were captured in the ghettoes did not stand for all of the injustices that were handed down upon them. A group of partisans developed in almost every ghetto. 

While the partisans drive and motivation were conceived in good intentions, there were some inherent difficulties in the resistance of the Jewish people in the ghettoes. Some of these were:

-Bickering within the Jewish community instead of fighting the 
Germans: Orthodox Jews waiting for the Messiah against the traditional Jewry.
-Frequent changes in the rules and boundaries of the ghetto
-Judenrat and Jewish Council
-Family with the Partisans
-Youth involved with their inexperienced combat
-Collective responsibility
-Sacrifice of the few for the many
-Limited help from the outside community
-No hope of victory
-Non-military background
-Lack of weapons
-No strategic base
-Disbelief and deception of the Nazis
-Too many languages
-Tradition of compliance with the authorities 

(Resistance and Revolt, AICE, 1998)


With all of these difficulties, the Jews still fought for their freedom against the Genocide, the Hypocrisy, and the Ignorance of the Germans.

The Lodz community had the second largest population of Jews in Europe, second only to Warsaw. The Jewish partisans worked feverishly at building ditches to defend themselves when the Nazi troops arrived. The Germans took over. On November 7, 1939, Lodz was incorporated into the Third Reich. All of the prisoners were forced to work in hard labor. 

In the Rohatyn ghetto the story is similar. It had a Jewish population of about three thousand in September, 1939. The Germans occupied the ghetto after June 22, 1941. With the new adverse conditions, the Jewish people revolted with escape. Dozens of Jews tried to flee to the forests by making their way east to the Soviet Union interior. 

On March 20, 1942, a massacre occurred. The German and Ukrainian police started to round up Jews and assembled them in the market square for shooting. When several dozen tried to escape, the squads shot them in their backs. 

In May of 1943, a group of young Jews organized and left for the forests to investigate the possibilities of fighting the Germans. Unfortunately, they were unable to obtain arms and most of the group just returned to the ghetto. 

The liquidation of the ghetto began on June 6, 1943. The enemies set fire to the Jewish houses and stores. When the Germans discovered that there were hiding places where some Jews had fled, they flushed the places with fire and bullets. On July 24, 1944 the Soviet army liberated the ghetto with thirty survivors finally emerging from hideouts. (Encyclopedia of the Holocaust, 1990)