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Ghettos and Other Jewish Communities

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    This section of the web site will cover primarily philatelic and other materials pertaining to the ghettos established by the Germans in occupied eastern Europe.  In addition, however, this section will also include philatelic and other materials pertaining to Jewish councils or administrations established in Jewish communities in occupied western Europe, countries allied with the Germans including Japan, and Germany, itself.

History of Ghettos Under German Occupation

    The earliest communication regarding the creation of ghettos in the German occupied territories was a directive from Reinhard Heydrich, the Chief of the Security police, to the chiefs of the task forces (Einsatzgruppen) in occupied Poland, dated September 21, 1939.  This directive indicated that Jews should be concentrated in cities and that, in each community, a Council of Jewish Elders (Judenrats) should be established.  More specifically,

"The reason to be given for the concentration of the Jews to the cities is that Jews have most decisively participated in sniper attacks and plundering.... The councils of Elders of the concentration centers are to be made responsible for the proper housing of the Jews to be brought in from the country.  The concentration of Jews in the cities for general reasons of security will probably bring about orders to forbid Jews to enter certain wards of the cities altogether, and that in consideration of economic necessity they cannot, for instance, leave the ghetto, they cannot go out after a designated evening hour, etc...."

    Notwithstanding this directive, no specific general orders were issued regarding the establishment of ghettos.  Accordingly, ghettos were not uniformly established in either time or internal administration.  About 400 ghettos were established in occupied Poland.  The first was organized at Piotrkow Trybunalski in October, 1939.  In 1941, most of the small town ghettos were liquidated and their occupants transferred to ghettos in the larger urban areas.  Also, these larger ghettos received many Jews from Germany and other occupied European countries.  The liquidation of the ghettos started with the commencement of the "Final Solution" in early 1942.  By the time the eastern occupied territories were liberated by the Soviet Union, not a single ghetto was left standing.

Mail Service

    The following description of mail service in the ghettos is from the award winning book, Judenrat by Isaiah Trunk (pages 178-80):

"The post office or mail department was another vital organ of the Jewish Councils.  It was the only official channel linking the the isolated ghettos with the outer world.  Not everywhere, however, did the authorities permit a post office in the ghetto. ...

Taking over mail services was a gradual process.  Even before ghettoization, the use of post offices had been denied to individual Jews, and their incoming mail had been delivered in bulk to the councils for distribution. ...

The agreement regarding mail service for the Jews of the Warsaw ghetto ... stated that the Council would handle all outgoing and incoming mail, using persons authorized for this work ... ; that the German post office would arrange a special exchange office ...; and that the Jewish Council would pay for the maintenance of this office while making a cash accounting on a daily basis.  With small differences, this agreement was incorporated into the order regulating mail service in the ghettos in the entire area of the Government General.  The Councils in the Government General were entitled to a 25% surcharge on postage. ...

The postal stamp on outgoing mail included the word Judenrat, along with the name of the town and the date. ...

The fee for mail service to which the Councils were entitled was a source of income but also of discontent, particularly as some rates... amounted to a surcharge of 100% over the official rate. ...

Mail exchange between the ghettos and the outer world was often disrupted. ... As a rule, mail was not delivered, or was greatly curtailed during 'resettlement' actions."


    Many of the surviving postal items sent from Ghettos were postcards sent to RELICO (The Relief Committee for Jewish War Victims) located in Geneva, Switzerland, and to Alfred Schwartzenbaum in Lausanne, Switzerland.  Relico was established in September, 1939, by Doctor Abraham Silberschein.  Funding was provided by organizations such as the World Jewish Congress and the American Joint Distribution Committee.  The following description of Relico's activities is from the Yad Vashem Resource Center:

"In the early days of the war, Silberschein was informed that the Germans were willing to release Polish Jews from Sachsenhausen, Dachau, and Buchenwald if they would leave Germany immediately.  With help from a Jewish immigrant organization in America, Silberschein succeeded in getting several groups out of Germany in 1940 and into Bolivia and Palestine.  Relico also helped organize the emigration of Jewish refugees from Vilna and Kovno to Japan, Shanghai, and to the Dutch colonies.  It also aided Polish refugees in Romania, Slovakia, Hungary, and Italy, in addition to refugees from the Netherlands, Belgium, and northern France, who had reached the unoccupied (Vichy) zone of France.

In all his refugee activities, Silberschein used the services of various bodies to transmit information and deliver packages of food and medicines; these included the International Red Cross, the Polish, Czechoslovak, and Dutch consuls in Switzerland, representatives of the Vatican, the Protestant Church Council, and the Quakers.  Due to its many contacts and its ability to transmit information quickly, Relico was one of the first sources to break the news about the Chelmno and Treblinka extermination camps."

    Alfred Schwartzbaum was a wealthy Polish Jew who settled in Lausanne, Switzerland.  He provided aid an assistance to Jews in Poland and worked with Relico.

Ghettos and Other Jewish Communities

   Amsterdam, Holland

   Bedzin (Bendsburg), Poland

   Belzyce, Poland

   Berlin, Germany

   Beuthen (Bytom), Poland

   Biecz, Poland

   Bielsko (Bielitz), Poland

   Bochnia, Poland

   Borek Falecki, Poland

   Braila, Rumania

   Bratislava, Slovakia

   Brody, Poland

   Brussels, Belgium

   Brzeziny (Lowenstadt), Poland

   Bucharest, Rumania

   Buczacz, Poland

   Budapest, Hungary

   Busko-Zdroj, Poland

   Chernovtsy (Czernowitz), Ukraine

   Chmielnik, Poland

   Czestochowa, Poland

   Czortkow, Poland

   Dabrowa Tarnowska, Poland

   Dombrowa Gornicza, Poland

   Dresden, Germany

   Drohobycz, Ukraine

   Dzialoszyce, Poland

   France (UGIF)

   Frystzak, Poland

   Glusk, Poland

   Gorzkowice, Poland

   Grabow, Poland

   Grodno, Poland (Belarus)


   Hrubieszow, Poland

   Izbica, Poland

   Jaslo, Poland

   Jezow, Poland

   Kalusch, Poland (Ukraine)

   Kamiensk, Poland

   Kielce, Poland

   Klodada (Tonningen), Poland

   Kolin, Czechoslovakia

   Koln (Cologne), Germany

   Kolo (Muhlental), Poland

   Kolomyja (Kolomea), Ukraine

   Koniecpol, Poland

   Konskie, Poland

   Konskowola, Poland

   Kosow Lacki, Poland

   Krakow, Poland

   Krasnystaw-Izbica, Poland

   Kroscienko (II), Poland

   Krosniewice, Poland

   Kutno, Poland

   Lagow, Poland

   Lancut, Poland

   Lentschutz (Leczyca), Poland

   Lodz (Litzmannstadt), Poland

   Lomzha, Poland

   Lowenstadt (Brzeziny), Poland

   Lowicz, Poland

   Lublin, Poland

   Lukow, Poland

   Lvov (Lemberg), Poland

   Mainz, Germany

   Michalovce, Slovakia

   Miedzyrzec Podlaski, Poland

   Modliborzyce, Poland

   Nadworna, Poland (Ukraine)

   Nowy Sacz (Neu-Sandez), Poland

   Nowy Targ (Neumarkt), Poland

   Obodovka, Ukraine

   Oleszno, Poland

   Olomouc (Olmutz), Czech Republic

   Olpiny, Poland

   Opatow, Poland

   Opoczno, Poland

   Opole, Poland

   Osjakow, Poland

   Ostrowiec, Poland

   Otwock, Poland

   Ozorkow, Poland

   Pabiance, Poland

   Pacanow, Poland

   Pajeczno (Pfeilstett), Poland

   Piaski Luterskie, Poland

   Piotrkow Trybunalski,  Poland

   Piotrowice, Poland

   Plonsk, Poland

   Potok Zloty, Poland

   Prague, Czechoslovakia

   Praszka, Poland

   Przedborz, Poland

   Przemysl, Poland

   Przysucha, Poland

   Radomsko, Poland

   Ranizow, Poland

   Rawa Mazowiecka, Poland

   Rejowiec, Poland

   Rohatyn, Poland (Ukraine)

   Rowne, Ukraine

   Rozwadow, Poland

   Rzeszow, Poland

   Sanok, Poland

   Shanghai, China

   Sokolow Malopolski, Poland

   Sokolow Podlaski, Poland

   Sosnowiec, Poland

   Siedlce, Poland

   Siewierz, Poland

   Stanislau (Stanislawow), Poland

   Staszow, Poland

   Sterdyn, Poland

   Tarnogrod, Poland

   Tarnopol, Ukraine

   Tarnow, Poland

   Tilburg, Holland

   Tlumacz, Poland

   Tomaszow Mazowiecki, Poland

   Tschenstochau (Czestochowa), Poland

   Vienna, Austria

   Vilna, Lithuania

   Warsaw, Poland

   Wegrow, Poland

   Wieliczka, Poland

   Wisnicz Nowy, Poland

   Zagreb, Croatia

   Zbaraz, Poland

   Zdunska Wola, Poland

   Zelow, Poland

   Zloczow (Zolochev), Poland (Ukraine)

   Zychlin, Poland


Isaiah Trunk, Judenrat, Stein and Day Publishers (1977)

Roman Mogilanski, The Ghetto Anthology, American Congress of Jews from Poland and Survivors of Concentration Camps (1985)

Gutman, Encyclopedia of the Holocaust, Macmillan Publishing Company (1990), P.579-82

Gordon, Ghetto Mail to "Relico" and Alfred Schwartzbaum, The Israel Philatelist, April, 1991, P. 6192-96


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