A rare photograph of Mordechai Chaim Rumkowski [1877-1944] with a yellow badge on his garment, signing documents for the ghetto residents - Described on the back in handwriting: "Mordechaj Chaim Rumkowski Der Ältester der Juden in Lodz" - Mordechai Chaim Rumkowski, Elder of the Jews in Lodz". Rumkowski, chairman of the Lodz ghetto Judenrat during all its years of existence (1939–1944). One of the most controversial figures in the history of the Holocaust in general and in the history of the ghettos in particular.
At the outbreak of the war on September 1, 1939, Rumkowski was 62. Rumkowski entered the arena of a new occupation reality on October 13, 1939, when by personal decision of the head of the Lodz Civil Administration, Albert Lister, he was appointed head of the local Jews. He maintained absolute rule as chairman of the Judenrat, and was even said to have "established a state within a state, a corrupt fascist miniature." Rumkowski held a cult of personality around him, organized youth marches in his honor and hung his picture in schools. He moved around the ghetto in a luxurious carriage, and on Rosh Hashanah he sent greeting cards decorated with his portrait. He printed banknotes and coins, named 'Romki' after him, which were legal practice in the ghetto and even produced stamps with the image of his portrait, all under the auspices of the Nazis. He established a Jewish police force that kept the ghetto closed and prevented food smuggling. Many see his policy as a collaboration with the Nazis. Rumkowski managed to build a public, communal life and establish order that did not exist in other ghettos. There were workshops, consumers and police. He first advocated the idea that the ghetto people would work without causing problems and interest to the Germans, and that the Germans, for their part, would not interfere with ghetto life. With the beginning of the implementation of the final solution, his worldview changed to the concept of "work for salvation". This view assumed that the work of the ghetto was necessary for the Wehrmacht, the German army. From this assumption he concluded that the more productive the ghetto, the more the Germans would avoid harming it. One of the most difficult decisions the Judenrat had to deal with was preparing the lists for deportations from the ghetto. These lists were names that were supposed to reach a repatriation to the east, and were in fact deportation to the extermination camps. Rumkowski decided he was sticking to the task despite difficulty, even after finding out where the divorce was headed. The most prominent deportation in the history of the ghetto was the "Sperre" deportation, in September 1942. In this deportation, the children under the age of 10, the elderly and the sick, were deported. Before the deportation, Rumkowski gave his most famous speech in which he called on the ghetto people: "Give me your children." On August 28, 1944, Rumkowski was sent to Auschwitz with the last residents of the ghetto, where he was apparently murdered that day. Rumkowski's figure is controversial to this day, most Lodz survivors have seen him over the years as a negative figure responsible for the deaths of many.
Size: 9x6 cm. Very good condition.