This is an excerpt of the speech I was talking about in my last journal entry...
In early January 1942, the Germans began a transport of all Jews under the age of 10 and over the age of 65 to the first Nazi extermination camp, Chelmno, only about 65 kilometers from Lodz. A Nazi-appointed Jew, Mordechai Haim Rumkowski, head of the Lodz ghetto Judenrat, or Jewish council, made a famous speech:
"A grievous blow has struck the ghetto. They are asking us to give up the best we possess - the children and the elderly. I was unworthy of having a child of my own, so I gave the best years of my life to children. I've lived and breathed with children, I never imagined I would be forced to deliver this sacrifice to the altar with my own hands. In my old age, I must stretch out my hands and beg: Brothers and sisters! Hand them over to me!"
"Fathers and mothers: Give me your children ... I must perform this difficult and bloody operation. I must cut off limbs in order to save the body itself. I must take children because, if not, others may be taken as well -- God forbid ... I must tell you a secret: they requested 24,000 victims, 3000 a day for eight days. I succeeded in reducing the number to 20,000, but only on the condition that these be children under the age of 10. Children 10 and older are safe! Since the children and the aged together equals only some 13,000 souls, the gap will have to be filled with the sick."
"I can barely speak. I am exhausted. I only want to tell you what I am asking of you: Help me carry out this action! I am trembling. I am afraid that others, God forbid, will do it themselves."
"A broken Jew stands before you. Do not envy me. This is the most difficult of all orders I have ever had to carry out at any time. I reach out to you with my broken, trembling hands and beg: Give into my hands the victims! So that we can avoid having further victims, and a population of 100,000 Jews can be preserved! So, they promised me: If we deliver our victims by ourselves, there will be peace!"
The parents dressed the children in their holiday best, as if they were about to attend a party. The children were then separated from their parents and transported to Chelmno. As the train pulled out of the station, filled with babies and the elderly, the cry "Mama" could be heard from inside the cars. In less than two weeks, over 20,000 Jews were sent to their deaths at Chelmno.
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