Łódź Ghetto: A History has been designated a Choice Outstanding Academic Title for 2007, and is the winner of ForeWord Magazine’s Bronze Medal in History.
In his comprehensive examination of the Łódź Ghetto, originally published in Yiddish in 1962, historian Isaiah Trunk sought to describe and explain the tragedy that befell the Jews imprisoned in the first major ghetto imposed by the Germans after they invaded Poland in 1939. Łódź had been home to nearly a quarter-million Jews, more than a third of the population of the city that was the center of Poland’s textile industry. When the Soviet military arrived in January 1945, they found 877 living Jews and the remains of a vast industrial enterprise that had employed masses of enslaved Jewish laborers.
Between 1946 and 1950 in Warsaw and Łódź, Isaiah Trunk, a former resident of Łódź who was fluent in Yiddish, Hebrew, Polish, German, and Russian, examined records created by both Germans and Jews, including documents, statistics, newspapers, diaries, albums, and testimonies. Based on an exhaustive study of these primary sources, Trunk sought to discover and describe the course of events in the Łódź Ghetto and the travails of the more than 200,000 Jews who passed through it during its more than four-and-a-half years of existence. Trunk’s detailed narrative and accompanying statistical analysis reconstruct the organization of the ghetto. Trunk discusses its provisioning; forced labor; diseases and mortality; crime and deportations; living conditions; political, social, and cultural life; and resistance. In addition to Robert Moses Shapiro’s clear and accessible translation of Trunk’s text, this first English-language edition includes translations of the 141 documents that Trunk reproduced in the original volume, a substantial essay by Israel Gutman on the distinctiveness of the Łódź Ghetto, a biographical sketch of Isaiah Trunk by Joseph Kermish, and 41 photographs from the collection of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.
“Trunk focuses his attention on the facts....He maximized the yield of Jewish documents as no one else has, and in the course of this labor, he pointed to all the areas that must be explored in the context of Jewish life in the Ghetto.”
— Raul Hilberg
“An indispensable tool for Holocaust research.”
Isaiah Trunk (1905–1981) participated in the work of the Central Jewish Historical Commission in Warsaw following World War II. After immigrating to the United States in 1954, he became a senior research associate and chief archivist at the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research. His book Judenrat: The Jewish Councils in Eastern Europe under Nazi Occupation won a National Book Award.
Robert Moses Shapiro is Assistant Professor of Judaic Studies, Brooklyn College, City University of New York. He is editor of Holocaust Chronicles: Individualizing the Holocaust through Diaries and Other Contemporaneous Personal Accounts and of Why Didn’t the Press Shout? American and International Journalism During the Holocaust.