The Ghetto, from Venice to Vilna to Harlem

by Dusty Sklar Discussed in this essay: Ghetto: The Invention of a Place, the History of an Idea, by Mitchell Duneier. 2016, Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 304 pages. AS MITCHELL DUNEIER, a sociology professor at Princeton,  points out in the preface to his inspired book, Ghetto: The Invention of a Place, the History of an […]

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October 15: In the Brest Litowsk Ghetto

The Nazis began to liquidate their recently established Jewish ghetto in Brest Litowsk, Belarus on this date in 1942, shipping the internees outside the ghetto for massacre, then conducting a manhunt for those hiding in bunkers. Some Jews who managed to flee joined partisan units operating in the forests; Hana Ginzberg of Brest would be […]

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March 18: Death of a Ghetto Courier

Leah-Lonka Kozibrodska, who worked as a courier between Polish ghettos for the Socialist Zionist movement, using the pseudonyms Krystyna Kossowska and Barbara Anne Biernacka, died of typhus in Auschwitz on this date in 1943. Kozibrodska was born in Pruszkow in 1916. In 1939 she joined the Freiheit youth movement. Kozibrodska was arrested while trying to […]

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September 17: Glückel of Hameln

Glikl bas Judah Leib, or Glückel of Hameln, a diarist whose writings in Yiddish provided scholars with an intimate picture of German Jewish ghetto life in the late 17th and early 18th centuries, died on this date in 1724 (some sources say September 19th). Born in Hamburg to a merchant family, she married at 14 […]

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December 22: Resistance in the Krakow Ghetto

Jewish fighters in the Krakow Ghetto, united under the command of Zvi “Heshek” Bauminger and Aharon “Dolek” Liebeskind, carried out a series of attacks on German forces throughout the city on this date in 1942. Members of the Jewish Fighting Organization threw grenades into three cafés where Nazi officers congregated, sabotaged military vehicles, distributed anti-Nazi […]

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October 17: Sabotage amid Holocaust

A Jewish partisan group led by Abba Kovner blew up two bridges and two train engines in the Vilna region on this date in 1943. “Jews formed armed resistance groups only after they realized there was no possible escape from the Nazis’ aim of total annihilation,” writes Shmuel Krakowski in the YIVO Encyclopedia of Jews […]

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April 10: The Ghetto

The Venice Ghetto was established on this date in 1516 as the first restricted Jewish residential zone in Europe. The term “ghetto” meant “slag” in Venetian; a copper foundry where slag was stored shared the northern island where the ghetto was sited. Jews had worked in the city since the 10th century and lived there […]

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January 23: The “Race of the Jews”

The palio degli ebrei, or “race of the Jews” — a ritual of humiliation and abuse that took place along the Corso, or main street, of Rome during the February Carnival — was abolished on this date in 1668 by Pope Clement IX Rospigliosi, who substituted an annual tax of 300 scudi (silver coins) levied […]

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June 29: The Slonim Massacres

Following some acts of armed resistance by Jewish partisans in the ghetto of Slonim, Byelorussia (Poland), the Nazis set the ghetto on fire on this date in 1942 and spent the next two weeks laboriously murdering between seven and ten thousand Jews. Slonim was home to a hasidic dynasty, to numerous prominent rabbis and scholars, […]

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