Postcard from the Łódź Ghetto
Nazis gave postcards to Jews in ghettos and concentration camps to send to their families. The Nazis prepared the messages and the Jews filled in the names and addresses. Messages stated the well-being of the sender and often asked for money or packages. Supposedly, Jews who were not yet in concentration camps would be lulled into the belief that they had nothing to fear when their turn for deportation to the east arrived.
After a few years of deception, most of the people who received the postcards understood that the message was meaningless, except it indicated that the sender was still alive. Nazis wanted the prisoners to request money and packages. The Nazis kept incoming packages of cash, food, and other valuable items. Nazis dubbed this diabolical deception “Operation Briefkarte” (Operation Postcard). Sending secret messages on the postcards was impossible as Nazi censors reviewed each card.
Sender: From the eldest of the Jews in Litzmannstadt
Addressee: Richard Goldschmidt (address)
Litzmannstadt Ghetto 29/5 1942
From: Josifek Sas Goldschmidt (address)
Family Bergmann, living here,
Street Heniburger 40/2Y,
is healthy and asks for money to be sent.
Chaim Rumkowski, the head of the Jewish Council of Elders of the Litzmannstadt Ghetto.
The Germans renamed the city of Łódź to Litzmannstadt, to honor a German World War I general, Karl Litzmann. After the war, the town returned to its original name. The Germans called the ghetto the Litzmannstadt Ghetto while today we use the Polish name to refer to this ghetto.
By making the postcard appear endorsed by Chaim Rumkowski, the Jewish head of the Łódź Ghetto, the Nazis were revealing another deception--that the Jews of the ghetto were self-governing. In reality, Rumkowski was torn between helping the Jewish population in the ghetto survive, and giving in to Nazi demands.
Would you believe this if you received it?
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