Researchers from the Museum of Polish Children – Victims of Totalitarianism in Łódź found shocking letters of children imprisoned in the German concentration camp in the Litzmannstadt Ghetto, it was reported at a press conference in Łódź on Friday. The director of the facility, Krzysztof Maj, stated that “it is a unique find, because there are only a dozen or so letters from this camp”.
A few days ago, while examining documents in private collections, historians found eight letters from the youngest prisoners of the German Third Reich.
“I am asking for some gray soap and a spoon, because I have nothing to eat …”, “I am asking for some saccharin …”, “Bake 20 pancakes for me, Mummy …” – these are just some fragments of shocking letters of children imprisoned in the German concentration camp in Łódź found by researchers from the Museum of Polish Children – Victims of Totalitarianism.
Historian: these letters are for us a special, intimate form of contact with the experiences of these children
– A few days ago, during the private collections query, we found eight original letters sent from the German concentration camp at Przemysłowa Street in the Litzmannstadt Ghetto. These letters were written by Polish children in 1944. They were addressed and sent to their loved ones, informed Dr. Ireneusz Maj, the director of the Museum of Polish Children – Victims of Totalitarianism in Łódź. – It is a unique find, because there are only a dozen such letters from this camp – he emphasized.
Documents are being examined, their protection is being carried out and the partially damaged fragments of correspondence of imprisoned children to their parents, who were also often in German concentration camps, read. – These letters are for us a special, intimate form of contact with the experiences of these children, truly tragic experiences – said Dr. Andrzej Janicki, a historian from the Museum of Polish Children in Łódź.
– Letters from the youngest prisoners of a German camp, read literally, could prove good conditions there – he said. – The children learned that containing any true information would end up with the intervention of the German censorship – said Janicki. He added that in such a case the letter would not reach the addressee and its author would be punished.
– The letters are full of assurances that the children are doing well, that everyone is healthy. Behind these lines of handwriting, a tragic picture emerges – assessed the historian.
Historians on Fragments of Letters
– There is information there that tells about this real situation in the camp. From a letter from one of the girls we learn that “they are all healthy”, but her brother “has recently had pneumonia and he has water in his side” – he described. – From another author of the letter, we learn that the situation in the camp is very good, even like “at the girl’s aunt”, while in the last sentence the child writes that the mother must visit her because “without it she will not understand anything” – he quoted . – Another girl asks for shoes for herself and her sister, and the date on the letter is February 15 – said Janicki, adding that most often the children asked for food.
– Today I am leaving this camp for Folwark – wrote a child imprisoned by the Germans. – I’m sorry I can’t be with you. (…) I miss so much … – wrote another letter from a German children’s camp.
– We know the data of one child whom the sister writes about in the letter. The man is alive, historians said.
The exhibition of letters and other documents from the camp will be on display in December this year at the Łódź Cultural Center.
The children were held in the Litzmannstadt Ghetto camp
The camp established in mid-1942 at ul. Przemysłowa was in the Litzmannstadt Ghetto, where the occupiers held Jews before being transported to German death camps. In the children’s camp, prisoners were from several months to 16 years of age. They were sent to the camp, among others for petty theft, trade and begging caused by the misery of war. There were children from families who refused to sign the volkslist and people from camps or prisons, as well as young people suspected of participating in the underground.
The children were held in primitive conditions, slave laborers, beaten and tortured, starved. Various data say about 3-4 thousand imprisoned and several hundred dead. When the German occupation of Łódź ended, there were over 800 underage prisoners in the camp.
Main photo source: Grzegorz Michałowski / PAP