Judenrat (Jewish Councils)

Judenrat (Jewish Councils) were established by the German administration to oversee all internal Jewish affairs in the ghettos, including housing, food, welfare, law and order and employment. In the Lodz ghetto, Chaim Rumkowski was appointed as the head of the ghetto.

Prev Next

Lodz Ghetto Building Department, 1941

Jewish police in the Lodz Ghetto

One page of a list of Jews in the ghetto

Workers in the Lodz Ghetto food distribution department, March 1941

As time progressed, the Judenrat were increasingly required to oversee the deportation of Jews for work outside the ghetto. The majority of deportees were sent to concentration and extermination camps. The Judenrat were caught between the need to satisfy German demands, while trying to represent interests of the Jewish community. As Rumkowski complied with German directives, the ghetto populace increasingly saw him as a Nazi collaborator. Although Rumkowski was awarded significant autonomy in the ghetto, the concept of Jewish self-government was, in fact, a façade constructed by the Germans in order to obtain the leader’s cooperation. If he failed to please the German administration he could be instantly dismissed.