That the Nazis persecuted and then murdered as many of Europe’s Jews as they could lay their hands on is well-known. But what is much less familiar is the story of what the Nazis did to many Polish children who were not Jewish. Their fate is a stark reminder that the Nazis tended to regard the Poles as a whole as sub-human, fit for nothing but enslavement.
In September 1939 the Germans started World War Two by invading Poland from the west. Two weeks later, the Soviets invaded from the east under the terms of a secret agreement between Hitler and Stalin. This was a disaster for Poles of all ethnicities and religions. But for the Jews of Poland in the Nazi sector, it was nothing less than a death sentence.
The Germans took the city of Lodz, where our story unfolds, on September 8, 1939, renaming it Litzmannstadt. General Karl Litzmann was the German commander who had defeated the Poles in the Battle of Lodz in 1914 during WWI. Lodz now officially became part of Germany.