September 1939, the Nazis devised a plan to round up the Jews of Poland and
relocate them into areas known as ghettos.
Walls and fences were erected around most ghetto areas. The Nazis operated a
policy of overcrowding, starvation and degradation. The reason why they did
this is still unclear, but it is known that they had a final aim,
which may have been either the deportation or the mass murder of the Jews.
council of Jewish elders was appointed to run each ghetto. The council was responsible
for food distribution, welfare and the application of Nazi law to the ghetto
population. They also had to select people suitable to work and, eventually,
to assist in deporting Jews.
barbed wire was completed, the guards in position, and the gate shut. We were
trapped. From then on we were fully occupied coping with the atrocious conditions,
the overcrowding and the hunger.
Waldemar Ginsburg, 18, in the Kaunas ghetto.