Survival in the Ghetto

»Deported to their Deaths« – panel 8 – Deportation and Death

Food rations consisted of one to two slices of bread per day, 100 grams of cereal products every 14 days, a minimal amount of meat, butter, sugar, and coffee substitute. Potatoes and vegetables were frozen in the winter time, and fish heads were often spoilt.

Nobody saw their own luggage again. What the guards did not steel was collected in a general clothing depot. The clothes of the victims of mass murder were also brought there. Ghetto residents were required to apply for clothing but only the bare necessities were provided.

Only those who could establish connections and could trade for food with local people at their workplace were able to survive. Detainees used their last possessions and the “treasures” they acquired from work or the abandoned Big Ghetto for this purpose. The forced labour brigades were searched randomly on their return. The procurement of even the smallest amount of food was seen as “looting harmful to the war effort”. Those that were caught were publicly hanged. Returning labour brigades were led passed the hanging bodies and beaten if they closed their eyes. Two women died because they were in possession of a spool of darning yarn.

It was forbidden, under death penalty, to go into the still empty houses to look for something edible. Arno and I went anyway because we were the youngest in our room and still quick on our feet. Death just didn’t scare us anymore. We were so hungry. From memories of Henny Markiewicz-Simon, née Rosenbaum (b.1925)

Survival in the ghetto depended on so many coincidences. It was important to maintain one’s ability to work, to have solidarity within the family unit or the circle of friends, and to have the courage and opportunity for barter trade.

Picture credits

Collection Zeitlin


Exhibition: Deported to their Deaths
Duration: December 15th, 2011 to January 27th, 2012
Location: Neues Rathaus Hannover, Bürgersaal
Panel: 8 from 39 – Deportation and Death
Size: 650 x 2050 mm
Technique: Digital print on Alu-Dibond