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Ghettostadt: Lodz and the Making of a Nazi City [Paperback]

Gordon J. Horwitz
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Book Description

13 April 2010
Under the Third Reich, Nazi Germany undertook an unprecedented effort to refashion the city of Lodz. Home to prewar Poland's second most populous Jewish community, this was to become a German city of enchantment - a modern, clean, and orderly showcase of urban planning and the arts. Central to the undertaking, however, was a crime of unparalleled dimension: the ghettoization, exploitation, and ultimate annihilation of the city's entire Jewish population. "Ghettostadt" is the terrifying examination of the Jewish ghetto's place in the Nazi worldview. Exploring ghetto life in its broadest context, it deftly maneuvers between the perspectives and actions of Lodz's beleaguered Jewish community, the Germans who oversaw and administered the ghetto's affairs, and the 'ordinary' inhabitants of the once Polish city. Gordon Horwitz reveals patterns of exchange, interactions, and interdependence within the city that are stunning in their extent and intimacy. He shows how the Nazis, exercising unbounded force and deception, exploited Jewish institutional traditions, social divisions, faith in rationality, and hope for survival to achieve their wider goal of Jewish elimination from the city and the world. With unusual narrative force, the work brings to light the crushing moral dilemmas facing one of the most significant Jewish communities of Nazi-occupied Eastern Europe, while simultaneously exploring the ideological underpinnings and cultural, economic, and social realities within which the Holocaust took shape and flourished. This lucid, powerful, and harrowing account of the daily life of the 'new' German city, both within and beyond the ghetto of Lodz, is an extraordinary revelation of the making of the Holocaust.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Harvard University Press (13 April 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0674045548
  • ISBN-13: 978-0674045545
  • Product Dimensions: 23.1 x 15.5 x 2.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,136,313 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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The Nazis' use of bureaucracy to achieve their genocidal aims comes through clearly in this historical tour de force. The Nazis attempted to "re-engineer" the Polish city of Lodz, home to more than 230,000 Jews (one-third of the city's population) before the war, into a model--and Judenfrei--German city embodying health and beauty they called Litzmannstadt. This required forcing the Jews into a ghetto with the help of Jewish leaders, especially the arrogant, dictatorial and reportedly lascivious industrialist Chaim Rumkowski...Horwitz's understated prose helps put into relief the full horror of these events. Publishers Weekly 20080310 It is remarkable that Ghettostadt: Lodz and the Making of a Nazi City is the first English-language study of the Lodz ghetto and Gordon Horwitz is the first scholar to draw together the mass of material that has been published or come to light since the appearance of the ghetto chronicle in 1984. Moreover, Horwitz synthesises the history of both the ghetto and the city. Few local studies in this genre (Auschwitz is the exception) have dared to attempt anything so ambitious...He brilliantly juxtaposes what passed for life in the ghetto with the fun and games on the "Aryan" side. His knack of being authoritative and heart-rending at the same time lifts this book above mere history; it is a fitting memorial to a Lodz that is no more. -- David Cesarani Times Higher Education Supplement 20080515 "Litzmannstadt, City of the Future," was designated by Hitler as a special center of urban development. As resources were poured in from the Reich, it would, declared its new German mayor, become a magnet for German immigrants from the East. And yet, as Gordon J. Horwitz points out in Ghettostadt, his brilliantly readable book on the city during World War II, there was a dark side to this glowing picture, a side barely mentioned at all by the mayor and his cohorts. For the process of becoming German also involved ridding the city of its Jews...Horwitz's vivid narrative makes effective use of unpublished sources in German, Yiddish, and Polish to paint a detailed picture of how the German population was strengthened by more than 20,000 ethnic German immigrants from Galicia, Volhynia, and further afield, within a few months of the German conquest. The Jews were removed from their sight by being forced into a ghetto. -- Richard J. Evans New York Review of Books 20080626 [A] chilling new history...Ghettostadt is more than just another recounting of the horrors of the Holocaust. Surprisingly, it is the first English-language study of the Lodz ghetto. Horwitz relies on a rich mix of primary sources--including diaries, testimonies, and memoirs of the Lodz Jews themselves--to tell the story of the Lodz ghetto in a fashion that is as thorough and compelling as it is horrifying. -- Matthew Shaer Christian Science Monitor 20080521 This is a remarkable book. With honorable modesty and an unerring tone, Gordon J. Horwitz has accomplished something quite rare and important. In a single book he conveys the awesome scale of the Holocaust--with its multitudes of victims and its long years of suffering and dread--while also emphasizing the particularity of individual experiences. This meticulously researched work makes us familiar with the uncommon lives of men, women and children as they were herded to a common tragic fate. -- Michael T. Kaufman Moment 20080701 Beautifully produced, and well-illustrated with contemporary photographs, this is a powerful, though at times a heart-rending account that must be put alongside Harold Marcuse's Legacies of Dachau: The Uses and Abuses of a Concentration Camp and Arno J Mayer's Why Did the Heavens Not Darken: The "Final Solution" in History as an indispensable source for anyone trying to comprehend this appalling time in European history. -- Carla King Irish Times 20080913 Ghettostadt is wrenching, absolutely heartbreaking. We of course already know the horrific outcome. The Jews then remaining in the ghetto, hoping against hope, did not. Part of the sheer horror of it all is the recounting of daily life, amid disease, hunger, and death, each rumor generating waves of anxiety, anguish, and panic, particularly as deportations increased. -- John Merriman Boston Globe 20081022 In this rich and suggestive book, Horwitz tells a tale of two cities: Litzmannstadt, the Nazi name for Lodz, which was to be a model for a German future, and the Ghetto, a doomed remnant of a sordid past. The two were linked: for Litzmannstadt to succeed, the Ghetto and its Jews had to disappear...What makes Horwitz's book so illuminating is his urban perspective. He tells how mass murder unfolded in the context of a particular city...[A] very important book. -- Samuel D. Krassow New Republic 20090506 Horwitz has written an indispensable account of the _od_ Ghetto, juxtaposing the Nazi objective of making _od_, renamed Litzmannstadt, a city "cleansed" of Jews, with the exploitation of its ghetto labor. -- J. Fischel Choice 20090501 [Horwitz's] ground-up approach has the merit of vividness, and brings home the daily horrors of ghetto life and the impossible ethical choices that faced the inhabitants. -- Mark Mazower Times Literary Supplement 20100917


"Beautifully produced and well-illustrated with contemporary photographs, this is a powerful, though at times a heart-rendering account"
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
This book is a must for anyone interested in the Holocaust and the dreadful situation the European Jews found themselves in during World War Two. Gordon Horwitz not only describes life in the ghetto but also the overall aim of what nazi germany wanted Poland to become under their leadership. It seems the nazis wanted Lodz to become a bustling german metropolis, with ethnic poles being forcibly removed to make way for ethnic german settlers from the Reich. Of course the new Lodz had to be the cleanest city in the occupied territory, which meant the total removal of its 200,000 strong jewish population. Whats mainly so heartbreaking is the total lack of humanity and disgusting brutality of the SS and gestapo, towards the innocent jewish population. We are told of uniformed gestapo men smashing the heads of jewish children against the walls of ghetto buildings, adults being thrown out of windows, hung on the spot without trial, and loaded onto trains to the gas chambers at the Chelmno death camp. All this terror was a daily occurence for ghetto residents who also had to deal with starvation, illness and horrendous working conditions emposed on them by the controversial Ghetto Elder Mordechai Chaim Rumkowski. Rumkowski believed that the germans would preserve the ghetto if it produced equipment essential to the german war effort. He was almost proved right as the Lodz ghetto survived the longest, but was eventually liquidated in August 1944 with the Red Army close by. Had they held on a few more weeks the Red Army would have liberated an estimated 70,000 jews from the ghetto. Alas Rumkowski and the remaining jews would perish at Auschwitz on the last transport out of the ghetto. This book is interesting,shocking and at times upsetting and makes for compelling reading. A must read for anyone interested in the darkest chapter of human history.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Two faced. 18 July 2011
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
While I was very familiar with the history of the Lodz Ghetto and with numerous memoirs,diaries and chronicles from its tragic history,this book covers both familiar and new ground in a very accessible form. The new material is drawn principally from German sources about the intended creation of the NEW city of Litzmannstadt, a would -be model city for German settlers and colonists.Naturally this new town planning and development is predicated on the ghettoisation of the Jewish population of Lodz and the surrounding towns and villages,their exploitation for labour and their ultimate destruction and murder.The contrast between the two processes which are here juxtaposed makes the familiar story of the ghetto's extended existence until 1944 and its final brutal and tragic destruction even more poignant.A very well researched and written text by Horowitz makes this an invaluable source for this particular topic.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.4 out of 5 stars  5 reviews
25 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars GHETTOSTADT: LODZ AND THE MAKING OF A NAZI CITY 24 July 2008
By A. Moug - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
A unique and highly descriptive volume on the ghetto in Lodz. This book gives both the Jewish and German perspectives of the creation of the ghetto, and goes into excellent detail of the Nazi intentions in regard to the city and region itself. The setup and functioning of the Chelmno death camp are vividly covered, and the section on the dissolution of the camp and attempts to erase evidence of the crimes committed there is excellent in its detail and description. One of the best narratives that I have read on the Lodz ghetto.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Excellent & Rare Study 25 Feb 2010
By Keir Derek E. Gray - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Gordon Horowitz, an Associate Professor of History at East Wesleyan University, has written a marvelous book. Achieving what is extremely rare in Holocaust Studies, Horowitz has written an unbiased history of the 4 year existance of Litzmannstadt, the Germanized City of Lodz, Poland, and it's Jewish Ghetto. This is not to say the German efforts towards the debasement and annihilation of the Jews is whitewashed or downplayed; quite the opposite. By pointing out the simple tactics of the Nazi overlords their own evil is made manifest with a passion that polemic cannot provide. With the possible exception of Browning I have not any other historians of the period who can write such a fascinating and fact filled work without exhibiting their own biases. This is a classic of the genre.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Daily Life Under Nazi Occupation In The Lodz Ghetto 29 Dec 2008
By Joan E. Diamond - Published on
The daily cruelties inflicted on the Jews who were forced hurriedly out of their apartments in Lodz to make room for ethnic Germans into the Lodz ghetto is described in meticulous detail. The documentation for these events is thoroughly cited. For anyone interested in the life of the Jews living under brutal conditions imposed by the Nazis during World War 11, this is a must read. It is not just another book on the Holocaust.
10 of 15 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A Disappointing Book 22 Feb 2009
By P. Wilson - Published on
The tragic facts of the Lodz ghetto, even if carefully documented in great detail, don't by themselves make a good book. That takes more insight, more narrative shaping, better selection and emphasis of the materials, than this book offers. The Nazi creation of their ideal new city, scrubbed and healthy and all-German, at the same time they were starving and murdering 200,000 Jews within it, is an obvious irony that gets tedious with repetition. And the author's few timid attempts at interpretation--that, for example, the Jewish ghetto leader Rumkowski really wasn't so bad--are not convincing. There's an anthology of primary sources that a film about Lodz was based on that's far more vivid and revealing. Some of the best parts of this book are drawn from it--the diary kept by Poznanski, for one.
5.0 out of 5 stars The one-stop shop for the Lodz Ghetto 19 Aug 2012
By Meaghan - Published on
An excellent history of the Lodz ghetto, with details about the city of Lodz/Litzmannstadt was well. Accounts of Litzmannstadt flourishing and getting bigger and better and more beautiful every day are in stark contrast to the blighted, dying ghetto. The author's portrait of Rumkowski, the ghetto's controversial leader, is balanced but sympathetic. I have used both the book and the sources I got from its bibliography for my own research and writing.
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