Holocaust Education & Archive Research Team
German Occupation of Europe Timeline
[The Occupied Nations]
A town and its destruction under the Nazi Occupation
Tomaszow Mazowiecki during the inter-war years had a Jewish population of about 10,000 approximately this was one third of the town’s population. Most Jews in Tomaszow Mazowiecki were merchants or artisans, although a substantial number also held blue or white-collar jobs at an artificial silk factory.
The Germans occupied Tomaszow Mazowiecki on the 5 September 1939 and within eight days they had arrested about 1,000 inhabitants of the town, including some 300 Jews, and in the process sent 90 Jewish men to the Buchenwald concentration camp in Germany, only 13 were alive at the end of the war in 1945.
In late 1939 in line with Reinhard Heydrich’s, the head of the RSHA, edict a Judenrat was established under Baruch Shoeps and his deputy Leibush Warsager and a Jewish Order Service was set up under Josef Goldberg. In late 1940, after the Gestapo arrested Shoeps and beat him to death, Warsager took over as Chairman of the Judenrat.
In early December, the Judenrat was ordered to furnish the Germans with 1,000 Jewish labourers daily and during the period 1940 -1942 hundreds of Jewish men from Tomaszow Mazowiecki were sent to the Zawada labour camp and other locations.
In March 1941 approximately 1,000 Jewish refugees from Plock reached the ghetto prompting the Judenrat to organise a soup kitchen, the kitchens output gradually increased and it soon served 1,500 meals per day.
In May 1941 there were 15,306 Jews living in the town, including 3,536 refugees, five months later about 1,500 Jews were deported from Tomaszow Mazowiecki to the nearby towns of Zarnow, Drzewica, Biala Rawska and Nowe Miasto.
The soup kitchen was shut down in November or December 1941 because of lack of food, the sixty-bed ghetto hospital, run by Dr Efraim Mordkovich of Lodz struggled to cope with a typhus epidemic, which broke out in 1941 due to poor sanitary conditions in the ghetto.
Rumours about the liquidation of the ghettos of Warsaw and Piotrkow Trybunalsky reached Tomaszow Mazowiecki in the summer and autumn of 1942 and soon it was their turn.
This group comprised artisans, a few practitioners of liberal professions, remaining members of the hospital staff, the Judenrat and the Jewish Order Service. Yosef Goldberg was placed in charge of the Jewish Order Service; his deputy was Mulek Milstein.
The rump community was housed in a confined area known as the “small ghetto,” enclosed in barbed wire and guarded by Germans and Ukrainians. Most of its inhabitants set out for work every day under guard, a few gathered and sorted belongings that were left behind by those deported, whilst others toiled in workshops in the ghetto and factories on the “Aryan” side of the town.
On the 5 January 1943, German and Ukrainian forces surrounded the ghetto as trucks and wagons were brought in. Over the course of the following two days 250 Jews were deported to Ujazd and then subsequently to the Treblinka death camp.
The National Archives KEW
The Chris Webb Archive
Public Records Office, London
Polish Museum in the United Kingdom
Copyright Chris Webb H.E.A.R.T 2012
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