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Abramek (Abraham) Koplowicz

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The Germans established Jewish councils in every ghetto, and these generally came to be known as the Judenraete. The members of the Judenraete were faced with many dilemmas in their decision-making process. On the one hand, they were frequently threatened with death if they did not comply with German orders. On the other hand, they tried to do what they could for the ghetto population. The head of the Judenrat in Ghetto Lodz was Chaim Rumkowski, and he thought that the best way for the ghetto residents to get through the war was to work. Eventually, over a hundred factories were set up in the ghetto, providing essential goods for the Germans.
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All the Jews in the ghetto were forced to work by the Germans, including all children over the age of ten.
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Beginning in the winter of 1942, the Germans deported Jews from the ghettos to extermination camps.
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In September of 1942, the Germans rounded up the Jews in a horrific, bloody operation known as the Sperre [curfew]. They moved from house to house, forcibly removing the elderly, the sick and children under the age of ten. More than 15,000 Jews were deported to the Chelmno extermination camp. Not a single family was left untouched.
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While Dawid’s diary reveals the shards of his fractured life, moments of spirituality emerge from his descriptions. Even the fact that he continues writing a diary in a world of chaos and death reveals his choice and determination to maintain his humanity. One would expect that in the face of constant and rapid deterioration and deprivation, people would become indifferent to one another. But even the very last sentences in Dawid’s diary reveal that caring, friendship and humanity still existed in the ghetto.
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Three months later, Dawid died. He was not even eighteen years old.
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As educators, it’s important to discuss the difficulties of life in the ghetto. However, we should not forget to teach about the strength, the human spirit that can teach us of the struggle for life in the ghetto itself and inspire us today as human beings.
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Avramek Koplowicz was eleven years old when he was incarcerated in the ghetto with his parents.
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While in the ghetto, Avramek wrote poems in his exercise book.
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Avramek’s poem expresses his freedom of spirit, his ability to dream and hope for a future in a world that denied his present. In August of 1944, he was sent with his family to Auschwitz-Birkenau. After the war, his father Mendel, the only one survivor from the family had returned home. He found his son’s notebook where he left it before they were taken to the death camp.
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Ultimately, when the Germans embarked on the annihilation of the Jewish nation, they began liquidating the ghettos and deporting most of the Jews who remained in them. The vast majority of Jews deported from the ghettos were murdered. By the end of the war, all of the ghettos had been liquidated except one, in Budapest.
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We have touched upon the stories of Dawid, Eva, Avramek and Ellis. Each one of them has a unique story. But their stories echo the story of more than 204,000 Jews that were incarcerated behind the walls of the Lodz ghetto. The Lodz ghetto has a unique story. Nevertheless, it reflects the story of hundreds of thousands of innocent Jews that were incarcerated in ghettos during the horrible years of the Holocaust.

In this step we will watch the second part of the video on the Ghettos, focusing on additional aspects such as the so called “Judenräte” (Jewish councils), the deportations to death camps and a short introduction to our first young poet named Abramek (Abraham) Koplowicz.

The video includes a few more excerpts from Dawid Sierakowiak’s diary. We are about to present two poems written in the ghetto. Before they come up, consider how poems written in these conditions will differ from a diary entry written in the same period. Both are important resources for more intimate access to an epoch, but they deal differently and read differently in their modes of expression.

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Poetry and the Holocaust

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