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A separate residential area is referred to as a ghetto ( spelling recommended by Duden : Getto ) . The term comes from Italian and means foundry. It was later adopted as the name for a separate residential area, as the Jewish inhabitants in Venice were restricted to the Nuovo ghetto (new foundry) in 1516 .

With the papal bull Cum nimis absurdum decreed Paul IV. On July 14, 1555 the Ghetto forced for the Papal States living Jews . This way of life in an assigned district or a single Judengasse was maintained until the Jewish emancipation in the 19th century.

Map of the Jewish Ghettos in Eastern Europe (1941–1945)

During the Second World War (1939–1945) the National Socialists set up completely different residential areas / ghettos in occupied Poland and the annexed Czech Republic for deported Jews . These detention camps served as transition stations before they were transported to the extermination camps .

In colloquial terms, urban districts that are completely different from both of the aforementioned areas are now called ghettos , because they are mainly inhabited by members of certain ethnic groups ( segregation ) or marginalized social groups . Transferred, it is also used without a direct spatial reference in the discourse about definable social structures ( subcultures , social networks ).

Etymology and history

Often Jews lived in separate city quarters in Europe since antiquity, especially in the countries around the Mediterranean Sea and, since late antiquity, also in what is now Germany. Originally, they could do almost any job. They were usually granted full freedom of trade and were allowed to purchase real estate. In the medieval city, the individual social groups and professional groups mostly lived in a certain city quarter or a street, and so the majority of Jews usually lived in a (then called after them) Judengasse or a Jewish quarter, in which a so-called " Eruv " (declared district, within which certain work was also permitted on the Sabbath ) the observance of the Sabbath commandments could be facilitated. Just as mostly some Jews lived outside this part of the city, on the other hand non-Jews also lived inside the Jewish quarter.

An early example of the formation of a ghetto in the Holy Roman Empire is Speyer in the 11th century. In the records of the Speyer bishop Hutzmann (Huozmann) it says:

“When I made the village of Speyer a city, I believed that I would increase the reputation of this place a thousand times by attracting Jews there. I have settled the newcomers outside the homes of the other citizens, and so that they are not so easily disturbed by the insolence of the inferior people, I have surrounded them with a wall. "

The first settlement dates back to 1084 in the suburb of Altspeyer and is the first documented ghetto.

Since the 13th century (first at the Provincial Council of Breslau in 1267), however, the church increasingly called for a spatial separation of Jews from the Christian population. From the end of the 14th century in Spain, from the 1420s in Savoy , from the middle of the 15th century in some German cities and in the 16th century in Italy, there was an increasing number of ghettos, i.e. districts that only Jews were intended, outside of whom no Jews were allowed to live in the city concerned and which were locked from the outside at night and often on public holidays. Such ghettos often led to oppressive spatial confinement due to the increase in population, but were not from the outset poor areas: many residents were wealthy craftsmen or traders. However, the ghetto residents were mostly subject to considerable, sometimes discriminatory restrictions.

Campo di Ghetto Nuovo , Venice

The name ghetto comes from the island Ghetto in the Venetian district of Cannaregio , in the immediate vicinity of which there was a foundry (dialect term ghèto from getto = casting), which had to be sealed off from the rest of the city for fire protection reasons. With a decree of March 29, 1516, the government of the Republic of Venice decided to combine the Jewish community there in a single district.

In 1555 Pope Paul IV had the Roman Ghetto built and obliged the Jews to live in this special area through the bull Cum nimis absurdum . Pope Pius V expelled all Jews in his sphere of influence on February 25, 1569. The only exceptions were the two ghettos in Rome and Ancona .

At the beginning of the 17th century all capitals had a ghetto (except Livorno and Pisa ). Walls ran around the ghettos and the gates were closed at night. Often the Jewish ghetto residents were forced to wear certain identification marks outside the ghetto that identified them as Jews.

Demolition of the former ghetto Judengasse Frankfurt, 1868
(photography by Carl Friedrich Mylius )

The best known example of a German ghetto is the Frankfurt Judengasse , which existed from 1462 to 1796. In the beginning, the city council built eleven houses outside the walls, a dance hall, a hospital, two taverns and a community hall and forced the Frankfurt Jews to move here. Around 1550 this area was allowed to be expanded again. After that, the Frankfurt magistrate did not allow any further expansion until the end of the ghetto, so that the growing population lived very cramped. The residents were not allowed to leave the Judengasse at night or on Sundays and had to wear the “ yellow stain ” on their clothes. The ghetto was destroyed during the siege of Frankfurt by French troops in 1796, the residents were allowed to leave it, and the ghetto obligation was subsequently lifted.

The dissolution of the ghetto system is largely a consequence of the French Revolution and the liberal movements of the 19th century. In 1870 the Roman ghetto was finally the only one in the world and was dissolved by the Italian King Victor Emanuel II during the occupation of the Papal States.

A parallel phenomenon in the Arab world are the mellahs in Moroccan cities. In Eastern Judaism there was the Yiddish name shtetl for places, villages or smaller towns that were predominantly inhabited by Jews.

Jewish residential areas / ghettos under National Socialism

Remains of the wall of the Warsaw Ghetto from the Nazi era (2005)

The SS designation of the assembly camps (concentration camps) prior to further deportation to the death camps of the Holocaust was consistently the German term Jewish residential area or Jewish housing development. The word ghetto was also used as a short description or translation. However, this gave the word a completely different meaning than the historical term. In Eastern Europe, the German occupiers established around 1150 ghettos between 1939 and 1944, around 400 of them on Polish and around 400 on Soviet territory. Before that, the Jewish residents of the villages were very often expelled or murdered.

Ghettoization by the German occupiers

Call for property registration, Piotrków Trybunalski Ghetto , 1940

As early as September 1939, following a secret instruction from Reinhard Heydrich to the Einsatzgruppen of the Security Police and the SD, the temporarily planned concentration of Jews from the country in demarcated areas of the Polish villages and towns began after the attack on Poland was over . There they should be more easily controlled and used as forced labor for temporary economic exploitation . Their assets could also be systematically recorded there with the aim of Aryanization (robbery).

The part of Poland occupied as the General Government made the start . Preparatory measures were the mandatory labeling for Jews, introduced by the Germans for the first time, which was ordered by Governor General Hans Frank at the end of November 1939 (white armband with a so-called Jewish star ), which was later also introduced in the " Altreich ". At the same time, the "Higher SS and Police Leader East" Krüger, appointed by Himmler, ordered the Jewish population to be curfewed at night and prohibited from settling outside their current place of residence.

Another measure was the formation of so-called Jewish councils , which were forcibly created as Jewish self-governing organs by the German occupiers as the recipients of orders to the Jewish communities. At first they were subordinate to the German civil administration, later to the SS and police forces. In practice, before and during the ghettoization, these “Jewish councils” had to put together teams for forced labor, organize the extradition of the remaining assets of the Jewish population and finally even, in the course of the dissolution of the ghettos from 1942, the deportation of the prisoners to the help organize various extermination camps.

Arm bands from a Jewish ghetto

The ghettoization itself, literally the concentration of the Jewish population in parts of the city, some of which were cordoned off with walls and checkpoints (e.g. in the Warsaw ghetto ), took place in Poland mainly from April 1940 to the end of 1941. The three largest residential areas or ghettos were the Warsaw Ghetto (October 1940, established in a part of the city that was declared a prohibited epidemic area by the military administration in 1939), the ghetto in Lodz (April 1940) and - after the Germans incorporated the conquered Soviet Galicia as the fifth district into what they called the “General Government” - the Lviv ghetto (December 1943).

Other, sometimes extensive, ghettos existed in various cities in the occupied part of the Soviet Union, for example the Kaunas ghetto , which became a Kauen concentration camp from September 1943 , the Vilna ghetto or the Riga ghetto . Those Jews who had not been murdered in the first wave of killings by the Einsatzgruppen of the Security Police and the SD in the second half of 1941 were imprisoned there. From the end of 1941, after the murder of the local inmates, Jews deported from the "Altreich" and the incorporated areas in Poland were brought there; these were no longer transported to the ghettos of the Generalgouvernement because the civil administration there resisted such plans in the spring of 1940 for reasons of capacity.

As a showcase ghetto was Theresienstadt ghetto in the former garrison town of Terezín furnished. Prominent older Jewish personalities from all over Europe were abducted there, but also families with children. For propaganda purposes, the film Theresienstadt was shot in a late phase of the camp .

Big ghettos Country interned Jews from to Transports to
Budapest Hungary 120,000 November 1944 January 1945 Auschwitz
Lviv ghetto Ukraine 115,000 November 1941 June 1943 Belzec, Janowska
Litzmannstadt ghetto Poland 200,000 February 1940 August 1944 Chelmno, Auschwitz
Warsaw Ghetto Poland 450,000 October 1940 May 1943 Treblinka, Majdanek

See also:

Sinti and Roma

Since the persecution of the Sinti and Roma was often closely linked to the persecution of the Jews, they were also deported to ghettos in the General Government, such as the Siedlce ghetto and the Lodz ghetto .

Everyday life in the German “ghettos” in Europe

Forced labor on the Vistula, Wehrmacht propaganda
photo , May 1941
Transport of children to the Kulmhof extermination camp , Litzmannstadt ghetto, 1942

Everyday life in the ghettos was characterized by malnutrition, illness and death. Epidemics, for example typhus , were rampant due to the unspeakable hygienic conditions and the catastrophic nutritional situation. For example, high-ranking Nazi leaders lowered the bread ration and the ration of jam to 50 and 30 grams a month, respectively. In some cases, the residents of the Warsaw ghetto could only get food through smuggling. They even managed to smuggle a cow into the ghetto in order to at least provide the newborns with milk. According to Heinz Auerswald , the commissar of the Warsaw Ghetto, the number of deaths in the Jewish residential districts of Warsaw rose from 898 cases to 5560 cases by over 500 percent from January 1941 to August 1941. Auerswald names malnutrition and typhus as reasons for this. The Polish doctor Ludwik Hirszfeld , who was penned in the Warsaw ghetto from 1941 to 1943, described the inhumane conditions there in the following haunting words:

“The streets are so overcrowded that it is difficult to get ahead. All are ragged, in tatters. Often you don't even have a shirt anymore. There is noise and shouting everywhere. Thin, pathetic children's voices drown out the noise. (...) On the sidewalks, excrement and rubbish are piled up in piles and mounds. (...) I see an enormous number of men and women being hunted down by the security service. The old, the crippled and the infirm are liquidated on the spot. (...) Often something is covered with newspapers on the sidewalk. Terribly emaciated limbs or pathologically swollen legs usually look out from underneath. It is the carcasses of those who died of typhus that are simply carried out by the roommates in order to save burial costs. (...) Thousands of ragged beggars remember starving India. You experience gruesome spectacles every day. "

In the early 1940s, the anti-Semitic inflammatory newspaper “ Der Stürmer ” even posted a photo reporter to the Warsaw ghetto. Later, an almost sadistic report about life in the ghetto appeared in “Stürmer”. Food was strictly quoted by the German occupation authorities and efforts were made to minimize the costs of the catastrophic supply of the ghettos by - where possible due to the size of the ghetto - in ghetto-owned businesses and in external factories or labor camps, the prisoners as it were Rented out temporary workers and thus generated income. Some industrialists made such high profits with the help of these "ghetto deals" that they were able to amass a huge fortune.

Announcement on the downsizing of the Litzmannstadt ghetto from August 22, 1944

Organization of the "final solution"

In 1942 - after the “ final solution to the Jewish question ” had been announced internally by the government at the Wannsee Conference in Berlin and regulated in detail, including the confidentiality orders - the systematic emptying of the ghettos began. For the most part, the ghetto residents were deported by train to the murder centers of the extermination camps, which ultimately led to an armed uprising in the Warsaw ghetto . Some of the ghettos were liquidated but also by that their residents on the spot shot were. The SS proceeded in this way primarily in the occupied parts of the Soviet Union , for example in Minsk and Riga, but also in large parts of Poland (for example Mielec , Izbica ). See also: HolocaustGhettoization

Legal processing

Since the organization of forced labor by the Jewish councils showed the characteristics of an orderly employment relationship, this resulted in pension entitlements for the workers and their survivors. This was legally specified in the Ghetto Pension Act in 2002 following various legal proceedings . Since the provision was initially only designed for voluntary work, the Federal Social Court clarified in favor of the applicants in 2009 due to several appeal proceedings.

The so-called ghetto in Shanghai

The ghetto in Shanghai , at that time as the Restricted Sector for Stateless Refugees or Designated Area (English for: specially "designated district"; in the Hongkou district) was an area of ​​about 2.5 km² in the Chinese city of Shanghai , the second World War I was occupied by Japan . This cordoned off area is historically a special case in the context of the Shoa (Holocaust) . It was not under German, but Japanese control and could at times be used as a place of refuge for Jewish citizens from Europe. In some cases, a few Jewish refugees were able to leave the German Reich or via the Soviet Union until September 3, 1941 (with the help of Japanese embassy staff in Vienna and Vilnius , Lithuania ). The Japanese-occupied city was liberated in 1945. Around 20,000 Jewish refugees survived the Shoah in the district.

Use of the term “ghetto” in a figurative sense

Chinatown, Chicago

In the full sense of the word, the term can be applied to many historic Chinatowns in the United States, because the Chinese and Chinese minorities in American cities such as San Francisco and New York City were bound by local laws after the Chinese Exclusion Act (1882) came into force , exclusively there to settle. These districts, which always comprised only a few street blocks, had to accommodate tens of thousands of residents in some cities. The forced settlement did not end until the 1940s.

The term “ghetto” was and is also applied in a somewhat precariously transferred sense to urban districts with a markedly different social or ethnic structure. This describes a phenomenon that is both territorial and social. Today the term is also used for voluntary and self-chosen separation.

Most notably, it is used in connection with socially desolate neighborhoods in US cities that have high Afro-American or Hispanic populations. The basis here were the implicit social and economic as well as direct legislative constraints of segregation (a historical racial segregation ), which actually led to a large concentration of the Afro-American population in certain quarters of the respective cities. The song In the Ghetto (1969) by Elvis Presley took up the problem.

This fact, but above all the fact that the residents of these quarters, in contrast to the minority groups of " non-Anglo-Saxon " European immigrants such as the Italians , Poles and Irish, which also concentrated locally in the big cities , were also subject to legal restrictions Comparison of the Afro-American neighborhoods with actual, "classic" ghettos at least close.

Although these legal restrictions were overcome during the 1950s and 1960s through individual lawsuits and the efforts of the American "Civil Rights" movement , the economic disadvantage of the Afro-American population changed little, so that not only in the big cities of the USA often social hot spots with a largely homogeneous Afro-American, and increasingly also Hispanic population in the south-west of the country, and the term “ghetto” continues to be used in this context, especially from a European perspective.

The sociologist Zygmunt Bauman states that the ghetto i. S. of the social hotspot “is not a greenhouse for community feelings. On the contrary, it is a laboratory for the production of social disintegration, atomization and anomie ”.

Urban ghettoization

Fenced district in Padua

The most prominent examples of a ghetto in this regard were above all in the 1970s and 1980s - a period in which the term ghetto in this context had a breakthrough in German-language journalism - parts of the New York boroughs of Bronx and Harlem . During the same period, the southern boroughs of Chicago and increasingly large parts of Los Angeles (also referred to as skid rows ) made headlines in this regard , which, like many other cities in the USA, again experienced a precarious mixture of widespread poverty and poverty , especially again in the 1990s experienced an exorbitant rate of crime and violent crime in their respective neighborhoods. In subcultural jargon, especially in the hip-hop scene, the term “ghetto” has undergone a remarkable change in meaning and a romanticization over time (see also Ghettoblaster ). In modern parlance, the term “ghetto” is used as a word for social hot spots . In times of high poverty, a ghetto can turn into a slum . In the Italian city of Padua there was a residential area that was fenced off because of excessive crime from 2006 to 2007 .

See also


“Traditional” ghettos
  • Silke Berg: Il ghetto di Venezia. The first Jewish ghetto in Europe . Bergauf-Verlag, Frankfurt / M. 1996, ISBN 3-00-000575-7 .
  • Riccardo Calimani : The merchants of Venice. The history of the Jews in the Lion Republic ("Storia del ghetto di Venezia"). Dtv, Munich 1990, ISBN 3-423-11302-2 .
  • Gabriele von Glasenapp: From the Judengasse. On the emergence and development of German-language ghetto literature in the 19th century . Niemeyer, Tübingen 1996, ISBN 3-484-65111-3 (Condition Judaica; 11).
  • Fritz Mayrhofer, Ferdinand Opll (ed.): Jews in the city. Linz 1999. 413 pp., ISBN 3-900387-55-9 .
  • Ronnie Po-chia Hsia (Ed.): In and out of the Ghetto. Jewish-Gentile Relations in Late Medieval and Early Modern Germany . CUP, Cambridge 2002, ISBN 0-521-52289-7 .
  • Frank Hercules, Photos: Jacob Holdt , Le Roy Woodson: Harlem. In: Geo-Magazin. Hamburg 1978.7, pp. 104-130. (Experience report. "The redevelopment of the slums forces people to emigrate, but black citizens return home full of confidence, to the black ghetto, to the" capital of black America ".") ISSN  0342-8311 .
Ghettos during World War II
Encyclopedia of Camps and Ghettos , Volume 1, 2009
  • Andrej Angrick and Peter Klein: The “Final Solution” in Riga. Exploitation and extermination 1941–1944 . Scientific Book Society, Darmstadt 2006, ISBN 3-534-19149-8 .
  • Christopher Browning : The National Socialist Ghetto Politics in Poland 1939–1941 . In: Ders .: The way to the "final solution". Decisions and perpetrators . Rowohlt, Hamburg 2002, ISBN 3-499-61344-1 , pp. 39-70.
  • Adam Czerniaków : In the Warsaw Ghetto. The diary 1939–1942 (“Dziennik getta warszawskiego”). Beck, Munich 1986, ISBN 3-406-31560-7 .
  • Bernard Goldstein : The stars are witnesses. The armed uprising in the Warsaw ghetto . Ahriman-Verlag, Freiburg / B. 1994, ISBN 3-922774-69-5 (reprint of the Hamburg 1950 edition).
  • Bernard Mark: The Warsaw Ghetto Uprising. Origin and course ("Powstanie w Getcie Warszawskim"). Dietz-Verlag, Berlin 1959.
  • Dan Michman / Dan Mikhman: Fear of the "Eastern Jews". The emergence of the ghettos during the Holocaust . Fischer Taschenbuchverlag, Frankfurt am Main 2011, ISBN 978-3-596-18208-4 .
  • Eric J. Sterling: Life in the Ghettos During the Holocaust . University Press, Syracuse, NY 2005, ISBN 0-8156-0803-9 .
  • Michal Unger (Ed.): The Last Ghetto. Life in the Lodz Ghetto 1940-1944 . Yad Vashem, Jerusalem 1995, ISBN 965-308-045-8 (cat. Of the exhibition of the same name).
  • Erhard Roy Wiehn : Ghetto Warsaw. Uprising and destruction. Fifty years later in memory . Hartung-Gorre, Konstanz 1993, ISBN 3-89191-626-4 .
  • Avraham Tory: Surviving the Holocaust. The Kovno Ghetto Diary . CUP, Cambridge 1990, ISBN 0-674-85810-7 .
“Ghetto” in the figurative sense
  • Ulrich Best, Dirk Gebhardt: Ghetto Discourses. Geography of stigmatization in Marseille and Berlin . Universitätsverlag, Potsdam 2001, ISBN 3-935024-24-X .
  • Rauf Ceylan: Ethnic Colonies. Origin, function and change using the example of Turkish mosques and cafes . Verlag für Sozialwissenschaften, Wiesbaden 2006, ISBN 3-531-15258-0 (also dissertation, University of Bochum 2006).
  • Lance Freeman: A Haven and a Hell: The Ghetto in Black America. Columbia University Press, New York 2019, ISBN 978-0-231-18460-1 .
  • Gerhard Milchram (Ed.): Walled Cities and the Construction of Communities. The European ghetto as an urban space . Folio-Verlag, Vienna 2001, ISBN 3-85256-190-6 .
  • Jens Sambale, Volker Eick: The Berlin ghetto - a misunderstanding . In: Clara Meister, Anna Schneider, Ulrike Seifert (eds.): Ghetto - Image or Reality? Self-published, Berlin 2005, ISSN  1861-4590 , (Salon; Vol. 14) Reading sample, PDF, 1.6 MB .
  • Loïc Wacquant : The Janus Face of the Ghetto and other essays . Birkhäuser, Basel 2006, ISBN 978-3-7643-7461-7 .
  • Louis Wirth : The Ghetto . Transaction Publications, London 1998, ISBN 1-56000-983-7 .


Web links

Wiktionary: Getto  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations
Commons : Ghetto  - collection of pictures, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Etymological dictionary of the German language, 25th edition, DE GRUYTER, ISBN 978-3-11-022364-4 .
  2. Thomas Brechenmacher : The Vatican and the Jews. History of an Unholy Relationship from the 16th Century to the Present. CH Beck, Munich 2005, ISBN 978-3-406-52903-0 .
  3. Encyclopedia of Religions. 1990 Gruppo Editoriale Fabbri Bompiani Sonzogno Etas S .. p. A., p. 109. (German version: Weltbild GmbH, Hamburg 1990. Editing: M. Elser, S. Ewald, G. Murrer. With the collaboration of A. Lohner - Catholic theology, W. Graf - Protestant theology and a series additional employee)
  4. ^ Lexicon of German History. Renningen 2005, ISBN 3-938264-04-7 , p. 106. (Organization: Christian Zentner , collaborators: Daniela Kronseder, Nora Wiedermann).
  5. Markus J. Wenninger: Limits in the City? On the location and demarcation of medieval German Jewish quarters . In: Ashkenaz . tape 14 , no. 1 , 2004, ISSN  1016-4987 , p. 9-29, , doi : 10.1515 / ASCH.2004.9 .
  6. ^ Fulbrook, Mary: A Concise History of Germany, Cambridge University Press, 1991, p. 20, ISBN 0-521-83320-5 .
  7. Geneva and not Venice ( Memento from April 11, 2015 in the Internet Archive ), Europe's first Jewish ghetto - Geneva not Venice / A Genève, sur les traces du premier ghetto juif d'Europe. les observateurs May 21, 2014.
  8. US researchers: 42,500 camps during the Nazi era in Der Tagesspiegel, March 3, 2013.
  9. ghettos , accessed on February 10, 2015.
  10. ^ Dieter Pohl : Ghettos . In: Wolfgang Benz , Barbara Distel (eds.): The place of terror . History of the National Socialist Concentration Camps. Volume 9: Labor education camps, ghettos, youth protection camps, police detention camps, special camps, gypsy camps, forced labor camps. CH Beck, Munich 2009, ISBN 978-3-406-57238-8 , p. 181.
  11. ^ Till Bastian: Sinti and Roma in the Third Reich: History of a persecution . Beck 2001, ISBN 3-406-47551-5 , p. 46 f.
  12. ^ Gerhard Schoenberner: The Yellow Star - The Persecution of Jews in Europe 1933–1945 , Fischer Taschenbuch Verlag, Frankfurt a. M., 1991, p. 76.
  13. Udo Christoffel: Berlin Wilmersdorf - Die Juden / Leben und Leiden , Verlag Kunstamt Wilmersdorf, 1987, p. 294.
  14. ^ Gerhard Schoenberner: The Yellow Star - The Persecution of Jews in Europe 1933–1945 , Fischer Taschenbuch Verlag, Frankfurt a. M., 1991, pp. 77 and 78.
  15. ^ A b The Nuremberg Trials , Leeb & Heydecker
  16. Federal Social Court facilitates access to “ghetto pensions” , free judgments, accessed November 30, 2014.
  17. ^ Zygmunt Bauman: Communities. Frankfurt 2009, p. 150.