This map is so chilling that it is even somewhat difficult to catalogue; however, it is historically important and needs to be preserved so that people will not forget what happened during World War II.
This is Nazi German map of Łódź, Poland, a city which was conquered by the Wehrmacht on September 8, 1939, upon which the occupation regime renamed the city ‘Lodsch’ after its German name. Łódź, located 75 km southwest of Warsaw, was a great industrial centre of extraordinary multicultural wealth, and upon its fall to the Nazis it had a population of 672,000, which was approximately 60% ethnic Polish, 31% Jewish and 9% German. The Nazis decided to annex Łódź to Germany, as opposed to making it a part of the Generalgouvernement (the German term for the parts of Poland they occupied but did not annex).
The Nazis immediately proceeded to ‘Germanize’ the city, erasing any sign of Polish culture, while planning to entirely eliminate the city’s 230,000-strong Jewish community. All of Łódź’s streets and squares were rebranded to ultra-Teutonic names, such that the ‘Plac Wolności’ was renamed ‘Deutschland Platz’ and ‘Piotrkowska’ Street became ‘Adolf-Hitler-Straße’. Jewish places, some of immense historical importance, were often physically destroyed.
The present map was printed by the Lodscher Zeitung, the city’s German language newspaper (which had its offices at Adolf-Hitler-Straße 86), and perfectly showcases the Nazis’ complete rebranding of the city, as virtually every single name and feature had been given new names to suit Third Reich tastes, while the ‘Jewish Cemetery’, located in the northwest of the city on ‘Ewaldstrasse’ (formerly ‘Bracka’ Street), which was one of the largest in the World, is left unmarked. The map represents the Germanization of Łódź as a fait accompli.
The map, while undated, was clearly made in late 1939 or early 1940. It predates the city being, once again, renamed ‘Litzmannstadt’ on April 11, 1940, in honour of General Karl Litzmann, the Wehrmacht commander whose forces captured Łódź the previous September.
The map also predates the Nazis’ decision to turn the northern part of the city into the ‘Litzmannstadt’ or ‘Łódź Ghetto’, a horrific walled off compound in which they imprisoned the city’s Jewish community, as well as Jews from other parts of Poland. The Ghetto was formally created on April 30, 1940, and in that quarter the Nazis variously enslaved, tortured murdered Jews in a manner that is famous for its sadistic brutality, even by the barbaric standards of the period. It is believed that 210,000 Jews passed through the ghetto from its opening until its it was eliminated in August 1944, whereupon the vast majority had been murdered.
When the Soviet Red Army liberated Łódź on January 19, 1945, only 877 Jews were found in the city, the rest having been killed. Of Łódź’s former Jewish community, only 10,000 (less than 5%) survived, having fled to other places. The ethnic Polish community also suffered enormously, as Łódź had a population of only 300,000 upon liberation.
A Note on Rarity
The present map is quite rare. While examples are held by several Polish institutions, we cannot trace any examples outside of Poland.
References: Biblioteka Narodowa [Polish National Library]: Magazyn Kartografii ZZK 13 068 / OCLC: 899787778.