Łask  1939-1945
Holocaust Period The Germans invaded Lask on 7th of September 1939. Immediately they began to loot shops and brutally mistreat the Jewish residents; especially the Hasidim, who had their beards cut off in public. One of the first critically injured as a result of Nazi attacks was the son of a synagogue caretaker, murdered on the 18th of September. A systematic process of degradation and brutal assault was initiated. Synagogue officials were executed; the Beth Midrash  was converted into a slaughterhouse for horses; Jews were forced to perform degrading acts during the High Holidays.   Lask was part of the area included within the Warthegau Plan. This was the plan for the forced removal of the indigenous Polish and Jewish populations, for their replacement with so called ‘Aryans’ and for the the full integration of this part of Poland into the Nazi State. This process of ethnic cleansing seems to have been linked to the tactic to dehumanise the Jewish community in the eyes of the German soldiers through authorised physical abuse of the Lask Jewish and Christian community. In October the Nazis ordered the preparation of a list of the wealthiest Jews and Christians, these were then forced to pay special war tribute to the Nazis. A rabbi, in attempt to save the precious items from the synagogue, decided to hide them. The Nazis, forcing him to mention the hiding place, hung him upside down and cut his beard off. The rabbi’s wife, concerned for his life, showed them the hiding place.   According to the national census of 1940, there were 3,366 Jewish people in Lask then. In the same year Germans established the Judenrat, and appointed Zelman Kochman its president. The Lask Ghetto   The  ghetto was established in several stages. At first the few streets were earmarked for limited Jewish habitation, but on Nov. 18, 1940, the Germans forced all the Jews of Lask into this covering the area of contemporary Zeromskiego, Zielona and Kilinskiego Streets. Jewish people were forbidden to go outside between 6 a.m. and 5 p.m. Toward the end of 1941, the death penalty was imposed for anyone leaving the ghetto. From then on the food situation worsened considerably. The Judenrat organized a hospital, a kindergarten, and a soup kitchen. In mid-August 1942 the ghetto was liquidated. About 3,500 Jews were locked up in a church outside the city and were kept for several days under inhuman conditions; the Germans then picked out some 800 craftsmen to be sent to Lodz ghetto, while the rest were sent to the extermination camp at Chelmno. 
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Compiled by Martin Davis © 2010 -15
Interior of the synagogue - which was used by the Nazis as a stable - after the Nazi destruction
Jewish families sent in open top cattle trucks to the Chelmno Death Camp
Listopada Plac (Square) during the Nazi Occupation
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From The Holocaust: A History of the Jews of Europe During the Second World War: "In 1941, some three thousand Jews had been deported into Dzialoszyce from Cracow, Warsaw, Lodz, Poznan and Lask. 'Hunger and starvation was the order of the day,' [Martin] Rosenblum recalled. 'People risked their lives for a few potatoes or a piece of bread'...Of the ten thousand Jews in Dzialoszyce on September 2 [1941], two thousand had been slaughtered in the mass graves outside of the town. The remaining eight thousand had been deported to Belzec and gassed."  "At Lask, on August 24 [1942], the Jews were locked into a church. One woman gave birth to a baby. Both she and the newborn child were killed. Three Jews managed to escape. Of the rest, about eight hundred were sent to factories in the Lodz ghetto, more than two and a half thousand to Chelmno, where they were gassed." "Into the Lodz ghetto...were brought the remnants of the Jewish ghettos from a dozen small towns around Lodz, among them those from Lask and Zdunska Wola. 'Pale shadows trudge through the ghetto,' the chronicler noted on August 28 [1942], 'with endemic swellings on their legs and faces, people deformed and disfigured, whose only dream is to endure, survive -- to live to see a better tomorrow without new disturbances, even if the price is a small and inadequate ration.'" This remnant of the Lask Jewish community suffered the same fate as the Jews in the Lodz ghetto. Sources Lask Yizkor Books Gilbert, Martin. The Holocaust: A History of the Jews of Europe During the Second World War. New York: Henry Holt and Company Inc., 1985 Encyclopaedia Judaica. Jerusalem: Keter, 1971.
Lask 1939-1945