Jewish ghettos in Europe

Jewish ghettos in Europe existed because Jews were viewed as cultural minorities due to their non-Christian beliefs in a Renaissance Christian environment. As a result, Jews were placed under strict regulations throughout many European cities. [ GHETTO] Kim Pearson] The character of ghettos has varied through times. In some cases, the ghetto was a Jewish quarter with a relatively affluent population (for instance the Jewish ghetto in Venice).Fact|date=October 2007 In other cases, ghettos were places of terrible poverty and during periods of population growth, ghettos had narrow streets and tall, crowded houses. Residents had their own justice system. Around the ghetto stood walls that, during pogroms, were closed from inside to protect the community, but from the outside during Christmas, Pesach, and Easter Week to prevent the Jews from leaving during those times.

In the 19th century, Jewish ghettos were progressively abolished, and their walls demolished, following the ideals of the French Revolution. The Nazis re-instituted Jewish ghettos before and during World War II in Eastern Europe.


Although there is evidence indicating the presence of Jews in the Venetian area dating back to the first few centuries A.D., during the 15th and early 16th centuries (until 1516), no Jew was allowed to live anywhere in the city of Venice for more than 15 days per year; so most of them lived in Venice's possessions on the "terrafirma". At its maximum, the population of the Ghetto reached 3,000. In exchange for their loss of freedom, the Jews were granted the right to a Jew's coat (the colour yellow was considered humiliating, as it was associated with prostitutes). The gates were locked at night, and the Jewish community was forced to pay the salaries of the patrolmen who guarded the gates and patrolled the canals that surrounded the Ghetto. The Ghetto was abolished after the fall of the Republic of Venice to Napoleon.

To place Venetian provisions requiring groups in the city to live in compulsory quarters in historical context, it should be noted that:

* Merchants from the Germanic lands were required to reside in a special building known as the 'Fondaco dei Tedeschi'.
* Turkish merchants were restricted to the palazzo known as the Fondaco dei Turchi.


From its creation to its dissolution at the end of the 18th century, the city councils limited expansion in the Judengasse, resulting in a steady increase in population to the point of overcrowding. The original area of about a dozen houses with around 100 inhabitants, grew to almost 200 houses and some 3,000 inhabitants. The plots, originally quite generous, were successively divided while the total size of the ghetto remained the same. This increased the number of plots but subsequently reduced the size of each plot. In the process, many houses were replaced by two or more houses which were often divided in turn. Many of the houses were designed to be narrow and long, in order to maximize the limited space – the smallest house, the Rote Hase, was only about one and a half meters wide.


In 1555, Pope Paul IV created the Roman Ghetto and issued papal bull "Cum nimis absurdum", forcing Jews to live in a specified area. The area of Rome chosen for the ghetto was the most undesirable quarter of the city, owing to constant flooding by the Tiber River. At the time of its founding, the four-block area was designated to contain roughly 2,000 inhabitants. However, over the years, the Jewish community grew, which caused severe overcrowding. Since the area could not expand horizontally (the ghetto was surrounded by high walls), the Jews built vertical additions to their houses, which blocked the sun from reaching the already dank and narrow streets. Life in the Roman Ghetto was one of crushing poverty, due to the severe restrictions placed upon the professions that Jews were allowed to perform. This was the last of the original ghettos to be abolished in Western Europe; not until 1870, when the kingdom of Italy conquered Rome from the Pope, was the Ghetto finally opened, with the walls themselves being torn down in 1888. Due to the three hundred plus years of isolation from the rest of the city, the Jews of the Roman Ghetto developed their own dialect, known as Giudeo-romanesco, which differs from the dialect of the rest of the city in its preservation of 16th-century dialectical forms and its liberal use of romanized Hebrew words.

List of historic Jewish ghettos in Europe


*Leopoldstadt, Wien


*Joods Antwerpen, Antwerp


*Zhetel ghetto, Dzyatlava

Czech Republic

*Josefov, Prague


*Le Marais, Paris


*Erzsébetváros, Budapest


*The Roman Ghetto, Rome
*The Venetian Ghetto, Venice
*Some ancient Ghettos in Piedmont, where Judæo-Piedmontese (a kind of Piedmontese language with Ebraic words was spoken): Turin, Moncalvo, Vercelli, Casale Monferrato, Alessandria, Asti, Ivrea, Carmagnola, Bra


*Kazimierz, Cracow


*Call Jueu de Girona, Girona

The Netherlands

*Jodenbreestraat, Amsterdam


*Balat, European Istanbul

United Kingdom

*East End of London
*Golders Green, London
*South Tottenham, London
*Stamford Hill, London
*Sedgley Park, Manchester
*Gorbals, Glasgow historically.

Ghettos during the Second World War and the Holocaust

During World War II, ghettos were established by the Nazis to confine Jews into tightly packed areas of the cities of Eastern Europe. Starting in 1939, Adolf Eichmann, head of the "Final Solution" program, began to systematically move Polish Jews into designated areas of large Polish cities. The first large ghetto at Tuliszkow was established in December 1939 or January 1940, followed by the Łódź Ghetto in April 1940 and the Warsaw Ghetto in October 1940, with many other ghettos established throughout 1940 and 1941. The Ghettos were walled off, and any Jew found leaving them was shot. The Warsaw Ghetto was the largest of these Ghettos, with 380,000 people and the Łódź Ghetto, the second largest, holding about 160,000.

The situation in the ghettos was brutal. In Warsaw, 30% of the population were forced to live in 2.4% of the city's area, a density of 9.2 people per room. In the ghetto of Odrzywol, 700 people lived in an area previously occupied by 5 families, between 12 and 30 to each small room. The Jews were not allowed out of the ghetto, so they had to rely on replenishments supplied by the Nazis: in Warsaw this was 181 calories per Jew, compared to 669 calories per non-Jewish Pole and 2,613 calories per German. With crowded living conditions, starvation diets, and little sanitation (in the Łódź Ghetto 95% of apartments had no sanitation, piped water or sewers) hundreds of thousands of Jews died of disease and starvation.

In 1942, the Nazis began Operation Reinhard, the systematic deportation to extermination camps during the Holocaust. The authorities deported Jews from everywhere in Europe to the ghettos of the East, or directly to the extermination camps -- almost 300,000 people were deported from the Warsaw Ghetto alone to Treblinka over the course of 52 days. In some of the Ghettos the local resistance organizations started Ghetto uprisings, none were successful, and the Jewish populations of the ghettos were almost entirely killed.

List of Nazi era ghettos

* Będzin Ghetto
* Białystok Ghetto
* Budapest Ghetto
* Cluj Ghetto
* Częstochowa Ghetto
* Kraków Ghetto
* Łachwa Ghetto
* Łódź Ghetto
* Lwów Ghetto
* Marcinkance Ghetto
* Mińsk Mazowiecki Ghetto
* Piotrków Trybunalski GhettoÁ
* Pińsk Ghetto
* Riga Ghetto
* Sosnowiec Ghetto
* Theresienstadt Ghetto
* Warsaw Ghetto Ghettos


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