German notice calling on Jews to report
for deportation, August 1942German
notice calling on Jews to report for
deportation, August 1942
Dr. Janusz Korczak and Jewish
children from his orphanage were
sent to their death to Treblinka on
August 5, 1942
Capture and transport of the Jews after
the Warsaw Uprising

During the next year and a half, thousands of Polish Jews as well as some Romani
people from smaller cities and the countryside were brought into the Ghetto, while
diseases (especially typhus), and starvation kept the inhabitants at about the same
number. Average food rations in 1941 for Jews in Warsaw were limited to 184 calories,
compared to 699 calories for gentile Poles and 2,613 calories for Germans.

Unemployment was a major problem in the ghetto. Illegal workshops were created to
manufacture goods to be sold illegally on the outside and raw goods were smuggled in,
often by children. Hundreds of four to five year old Jewish children went across en
masse to the "Aryan side," sometimes several times a day, smuggling food into the
ghettos, returning with goods that often weighed more than they did. Smuggling was
often the only source of subsistence for Ghetto inhabitants, who would otherwise have
died of starvation.

Despite the grave hardships, life in the Warsaw Ghetto was rich with educational and
boys and some women. The group had sent desperate appeals for weapons to anti-Nazi
Poles outside the ghetto and were supplied with enough weapons to successfully resist
deportation by attacking from rooftops, cellars and attics. As a result, 20 Germans
were killed and 50 wounded.

The Jewish resistance, combined with the severe winter weather and a shortage of
trains, prevented the SS from meeting Himmler's February deadline.

In the spring, Himmler ordered the SS to conduct a "special action" against the Jews
that would clear out the entire ghetto in just three days. By now, the size of the ghetto
had been reduced to an area measuring only 1,000 yards by 300 yards.

The sheer death-toll among the Jewish inhabitants of the Ghetto during the Großaktion
1940. Jews were forbidden to go outside the area on penalty of being shot on sight. No
contact with the outside world was allowed.

Hans Frank, the Nazi Gauleiter (governor) of occupied Poland, declared in 1941, "I ask
nothing of the Jews except that they should disappear."

Thus the Nazis refused to allow enough food into the ghetto to keep the Jews healthy,
forcing them to survive on a bowl of soup a day. Soon, 300 to 400 persons died each
day in the ghetto from starvation and disease. By July of 1942, about 80,000 Jews had

On July 22, 1942, the SS, on orders from Reichsführer Heinrich Himmler, began a
The Warsaw Ghetto (German: Ghetto
Warschau; Polish: getto warszawskie)
was the largest of all Jewish ghettos in
Nazi-occupied Europe during World War
II. It was established in the Polish capital
between October and November 16,
1940, in the territory of General
Government of the German-occupied
Poland, with over 400,000 Jews from the
vicinity residing in an area of 1.3 square
miles (3.4 km2) of Warsaw which
normally housed about 160,000. The area
was surrounded by a wall 10 feet high
and was sealed off on November 15,
Click on thumbnail for an
interactive map
of the Warsaw Ghetto
Interesting Alternate Solution by Marjorie Wilser
How Skip Solved the Puzzle
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Quiz #369 Results
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Answers to Quiz #369 - September 30, 2012
1.  What kind of document is this?
2.  Where would you find the original?
3.  Describe one person who had two of them.
Congratulations to Our Winners!

Christine Walker                Skip Murray
Marjorie Wilser                Dennis Brann
John Thatcher                Daniel Jolley
Mike Dalton                Sally Garrison
Marcelle Comeau
Comments from Our Readers
Thanks Colleen. A great quiz and a personal thanks from me for keeping the memory
alive!  I can't imagine how people lived through those times (those who did).

Whenever I feel down or I look at how hard some people have it, I can reflect back to
these times to see how horrible life can really be!  It is hard to imagine what you might
have done since doing anything would most likely have put your life in jeopardy.  I like
to think of myself as a compassionate person, but I'm not sure what I would (or could)
have done back then.  I was born just at the end of this tragedy, but was brought up in
a predominantly Jewish community, so I felt and still feel their pain.       
Dennis Brann

I got current contest answer off of Jewish genealogical site for Warsaw, Poland; but
did not log onto it; but contest photo image was there. It appears that scanned images
on that website can translated from Polish to English with use of a translator app on a
iphone (I don't have one), or by using Google translate to translate the entire page or
image. I can translate individual words on my wxp browser, but not the entire page or
image. Interesting results for your webpage translated into different languages.

Interesting to note that the sample card used on their website was for someone of the
Moslem faith.                                                                                      
Mike Dalton

I have an interesting family story that could be an example.  My grandfather served in
the army in WWI for another individual who paid him to serve for him. He and my
grandmother came to America under that individuals name.  I expect that if my
grandfather had died in the war, that individual would then have two death certificates.  

I have their joint passport -- with the assumed name and was able to find them under
that name in Us Bound ship records from 1922.  My grandfather served in Haller's
Army.  His discharge papers are signed by Jozef Pilsudski (doubt it was signed directly
by him).                                                                                        
Tish Olshefsky

By shear luck I finished this quiz in short order. The current WWII theme is extra fun -
it's one of my favourite historical eras. My step-Mom has really enjoyed the last two
quizzes - she is a 1st generation American of Polish parents. Thanks!
Sally Garrison
Warszawa reminded me of Warsaw, so I thought maybe it was a
place. I googled Warszawa Grzybowska and to my surprise I learned
that is Warsaw!

Next I searched Karta Zgonu and learned that it is a death certificate.

Seeing the year 1941 on it made me think it has to do with a death in
WWII, possibly a Jewish person.

More poking around the internet led me to pages about the Warsaw

So I searched for Warsaw Ghetto Death certificates and War4saw
Ghetto Death Cards and ended up on this site

That site says that the collection of cards is at Jewish Historical
Institute, Warsaw.

The site also mentioned that sometimes, 2 different doctors filled out
a death card for the same person, and that person would end up with
2 cards. I failed to find the name of a person who had 2 cards.

Skip Murray
Ok, googling exact phrase gives me:

a Karta Zgonu is a death card, or record, in Polish.

Holocaust version (and source of the originals):

Modern version (it's still called by the same name):

Two death records?  I don't think this is the one you're asking for,
but. . .

I have two death records in Polish for Szmul Beniamin SZYFMAN
that are from two different places but apparently name the same
parents. The 1852 record from Szydlowiec, the parents' home town,
says the child died at one year of age. The 1854 record from Ilza is
posted on ViewMate

It appears to show that the parents come from Nowy Ulyn but all my
search attempts using that name failed. I would greatly appreciate it
if someone could decipher the name of the town, tell me the child's
age when he died, and the mother's maiden name.

Aria Schifman, Montreal

Lastly, because I've got to give up and get ready for church :)  -- a
*very* interesting paper about database merging and identifying
Jewish decedents and genealogical clues to reconstruct missing
information-- here in Google's "quick view" because it's a PDF:

I think I'm back after a whole summer off!

Marjorie Wilser
Jewish Records Indexing - Poland
Jewish Genealogical Society, Inc. (New York)

Project to index genealogical collections at the
Jewish Historical Institute, Warsaw
(Zydowski Instytut Historyczny)

Project 10: Warsaw Ghetto Death Cards


1.  A death card from the Warsaw Ghetto

2.  In the Jewish Historical Institute in Warsaw, Poland.

3.  In one case, the collection contains two cards for the same individual, each
filled independently by a different physician. Under the doctor's signature it is
noted that the deceased female was of Moslem faith.   
The Warsaw Ghetto Death Cards collection at the
Jewish Historical Institute, Warsaw (JHI), provides a
remarkable view into the lives and deaths of almost
10,000 individuals, mostly Jews. While their origins are
clouded in mystery, and it is uncertain how they ended
up in the JHI, historians and archivists have concluded
that the Death Cards were likely found in the ruins of the
Mayoral Office that was virtually destroyed during the
Warsaw Uprising.

The collection of 9,924 cards are mostly from 1941,
with the rest from 1939. Fire and the fading of the script
through aging makes it difficult to read many of the
cards and decipher the information. Sometimes, the
writing style creates a problem. Nonetheless, great
efforts have been made to extract and record every piece
of information on each card.

The cards were usually filled by two individuals: (1) a doctor who recorded the last and
first name, date of death, and sex of the deceased. On the reverse side, he wrote the
cause of death (in Polish or Latin), signed his name and put an official stamp; (2) a
clerk, who - depending on available information - filled the balance of the card -
including first names of parents, birth dates (usually the year only), denomination,
address, marital status, and occupation. In the category "citizenship," the clerk entered
numbers, the meaning of which is not known. Information for children noted if they
were born to their parents or outside the marriage. Occasionally, dates of
hospitalizations were given. In some cases, he would describe living conditions of the
deceased, date of marriage, and the spouse's age. Sometimes, this part of the card was
filled by a relative.

In one case, the collection contains two cards for the same individual, each filled
Warsaw Death Card
independently by a different physician. Under
the doctor's signature it is noted that the
deceased female was of Moslem faith.

In general, the death cards from 1939 contain
little information: the last name, date of burial
(considered the date of death), place of
residence, approximate age, and sometimes
the cause of death (usually, war casualty).
Similarly, a few categories are filled for
persons, whose names were unknown and
whose cards are designated as NN in a
separate group. This group also contains
cards, which because of damage (burns;
some other physical imperfection; fading;
difficult writing style) made it impossible to
decipher the last name or a part of the name
of the deceased (in such cases at the
Translation of Warsaw Death Card
beginning or the end of the name the symbol (e) was placed to indicate physical
damage). When the first name could be established - even when the last two letters
were missing - such as in Ruchla - the symbol (e) was used to indicate that the card
was damaged.  Other symbols on the database are as follows:  
Those who died in the Warsaw ghetto in 1941 usually came from the poorest segments
of the Jewish community as witnessed by their occupations, porter, peddler, laborer or
domestic. The profession of women is often stated as a housewife and in the case of
older persons as a dependent. Many were residents of refugee centers and homeless
shelters. The most common causes of death were inanito (deprivation) with the phrase
"of hunger" added. Most children died of colitis. Many people died of heart disease such
as myocarditis (degeneratio musculi cordis), cardiomyopathy (adynamia musculi
cordis), and CHF (insufficienta musculi cordis).  A cause of death translation list has
been compiled by Dr. Kris Murawski.  An Excel version can be downloaded by clicking
here.  It is best to use a Polish font to read the list.   

The restoration and preservation of the card collection, mostly by hot lamination, was
completed between 1995 and 1997. The work was carried out by the Paper
Conservation Department at the Jewish Historical Institute at an estimated cost of

Jewish Records Indexing - Poland funded the data entry of the information from the
cards. The work was completed in September 2002.

There are more than 5,500 different surnames in the database.

In many cases the town of birth is also listed. There were over 400 different towns
listed which can be found in current day Poland, Ukraine, Lithuania, and Belarus.
No data given
Damaged by fire
Difficult handwriting
Pencil faded handwriting
Unclear registration
Conservator's remark
Card consists of information original given on two cards
? +/-
(About) this year; probably
Daughter (written by doctors, clerks)
Son (written by doctors, clerks)
The Warsaw Ghetto
Constructing the Wall
around the Ghetto
massive "resettlement" of the Jews, taking them out
of the ghetto to extermination camps (mainly
Treblinka) where they were to be gassed. The Jewish
Council in the ghetto was ordered to deliver 6000
persons a day for deportation. In just two months, a
total of 310,322 Jews were sent to their deaths in
Nazi extermination camps. By the end of September
only 60,000 Jews remained.

In January of 1943, Himmler ordered the SS to
remove the remaining 60,000 Jews from the ghetto
by February 15.

However, the remaining Jews knew by now that
deportation meant death and chose to resist. A Jewish
Fighting Organization, ZOB, had been formed,
consisting of 22 groups, each having 20 to 30 men,
Ghetto all from the outside
Warschau would have been difficult to
compare even with the liquidation of the
Ghetto in spring of next year during and
after the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising which
meant annihilation of an additional 50,000
people followed by the actual razing of the
ghetto. With the inclusion of the Ghetto
falling at least 300,000 Polish Jews lost
their lives there.

The Warsaw Ghetto was established by
the German Governor-General Hans Frank
Ghetto all from above
on October 16, 1940. Frank ordered Jews in Warsaw and its suburbs rounded up and
herded into the Ghetto. At this time, the population in the Ghetto was estimated to be
400,000 people, about 30% of the population of Warsaw; however, the size of the
Ghetto was about 2.4% of the size of Warsaw.

The construction of the ghetto wall started on April 1, 1940, but the Germans closed
the Warsaw Ghetto to the outside world on November 16 that year. The wall was
typically 3 metres high and topped with barbed wire. Escapees could be shot on sight.
The borders of the ghetto changed many times through the next years.

The ghetto was divided by Chłodna Street, which due to its importance (Warsaw's
major street leading to the west) was excluded from it. The area south of Chłodna was
known as “Small Ghetto”, while the area north of this street – “Large Ghetto”. Those
two parts were connected by Zelazna Street (special gate was built at its intersection
with Chłodna Street). In January 1942 a
wooden footbridge, which after the war
became one of the symbols of the
Holocaust, was built there to ease
pedestrian traffic.

The first commissioner of the Warsaw
ghetto was his chief organizer SA-
Standartenführer Waldemar Schön. He
was succeeded in May 1941 by Heinz

Children scaling the wall
to steal and smuggle food
Bridge over Chlodna St connecting the
Large Ghetto and the Small Ghetto
cultural activities, conducted by its
underground organizations. Hospitals,
public soup kitchens, orphanages, refugee
centers and recreation facilities were
formed, as well as a school system. Some
schools were illegal and operated under
the guise of a soup kitchen. There were
secret libraries, classes for the children
and even a symphony orchestra. Rabbi
Alexander Zusia Friedman,
secretary-general of Agudath Israel of
Poland, was one of the Torah leaders in
the Warsaw Ghetto. He organized an
network of religious schools, including "a Yesodei HaTorah school for boys, a Bais
Yaakov school for girls, a school for elementary Jewish instruction, and three
institutions for advanced Jewish studies". These schools, operating under the guise of
kindergartens, medical centers and soup kitchens, were a place of refuge for thousands
of children and teens, and hundreds of teachers. In 1941, when the Germans gave
official permission to the local Judenrat to open schools, these schools came out of
hiding and began receiving financial support from the official Jewish community.

Over 100,000 of the Ghetto's residents died due to rampant disease or starvation, as
well as random killings, even before the Nazis began massive deportations of the
inhabitants from the Ghetto's Umschlagplatz to the Treblinka extermination camp during
the Grossaktion Warschau, part of the countrywide Operation Reinhard. Between Tisha
B'Av (July 23) and Yom Kippur
(September 21) of 1942, about 254,000
Ghetto residents (or at least 300,000 by
different accounts) were sent to Treblinka
and murdered there.

Friedman alerted world Jewry to the start
of deportations from the Warsaw Ghetto
in a coded message. His telegram read:
"Mr. Amos kept his promise from the
fifth-third." He was referring to the Book
of Amos, chapter 5, verse 3, which reads:
"The city that goes out a thousand strong
Arrested after the Warsaw Uprising
will have a hundred left, and the one that goes out a hundred strong will have ten left to
the House of Israel".

Polish resistance officer Jan Karski reported to the Western governments in 1942 on
the situation in the Ghetto and on the extermination camps. By the end of 1942, it was
clear that the deportations were to their deaths, and many of the remaining Jews
decided to fight.

For years, Ghetto residents in the group Oyneg Shabbos had discreetly chronicled
conditions and hid their photos, writings, and short films in improvised time capsules;
their activity increased after learning that transports to "resettlement" actually led to the
mass killings. In May 1942, Germans began filming a propaganda movie titled "Das
Ghetto" which was never completed.
Footage is shown in the 2010
documentary called "A Film Unfinished"
which concerns the making of "Das
Ghetto" and correlates scenes from 'Das
Ghetto' with descriptions of the filming of
these scenes that Czerniakow mentions in
his diary.

The Warsaw Uprising and Destruction
of the Ghetto

On January 18, 1943, after almost four
Captured after the Warsaw Uprising
months without any deportations, the Germans suddenly entered the Warsaw ghetto
intent upon a further deportation. Within hours, some 600 Jews were shot and 5,000
others rounded up.

The Germans expected no resistance, but preparations to resist had been going on since
the previous autumn. The first instances of Jewish armed resistance began that day.
The Jewish fighters had some success: the expulsion stopped after four days and the
ŻOB and ŻZW resistance organizations took control of the Ghetto, building shelters and
fighting posts and operating against Jewish collaborators.

On Monday, April 19, 1943, the Jewish feast of Passover, over 2000 Waffen SS
soldiers under the command of SS General Jürgen Stroop attacked with tanks, artillery
and flame throwers. A fierce battle erupted between the heavily armed Germans and
1200 Jews armed with smuggled in pistols, rifles, a few machine guns, grenades and
Molotov cocktails.

The first attack by the SS was repulsed by
the Jews, leaving 12 Germans dead. The

Germans renewed the attack, but found it
difficult to kill or capture the small battle
groups of Jews, who would fight, then
retreat through a maze of cellars, sewers
andother hidden passageways to escape

On the fifth day of the battle, an infuriated
Himmler ordered the SS to comb out the
ghetto "with the greatest severity and
Jews being herded into boxcars
destined for Treblinka
relentless tenacity." SS General Stroop decided to burn down the entire ghetto, block by

A report filed by Stroop described the scene: "The Jews stayed in the burning buildings
until because of the fear of being burned alive they jumped down from the upper
stories. With their bones broken, they still tried to crawl across the street into buildings
which had not yet been set on fire. Despite the danger of being burned alive the Jews
and bandits often preferred to return into the flames rather than risk being caught by

The burnings and renewed German attacks continued, but the Jews in Warsaw resisted
for a total of 28 days.
On May 16, 1943, amid the relentless
German assault, the Jewish resistance
finally ended. Stroop sent a battle report
stating, "The former Jewish quarter of
Warsaw is no longer in existence. The
large scale action was terminated at 2015
hours by blowing up the Warsaw
synagogue. Total number of Jews dealt
with: 56,065, including both Jews caught
and Jews whose extermination can be

Polish sources estimated 300 Germans
were killed and 1000 wounded.
The ruins of the Warsaw Ghetto 1945