chapter
Hunger in the ghettos
ByHelene J. Sinnreich
Pages 17

This chapter outlines the experiences of Jews in the ghettos whose lack of food was an overwhelming daily concern, consuming all aspects of existence. Thoughts, actions, and even dreams were devoted to food and its acquisition. Hunger affected social, and particularly family, relations as starving people sought to feed themselves, at the expense of larger society or even loved ones. Historians examining ghettos have often looked at the Nazi oversight of ghettos and Jewish leadership in ghettos with the aim of determining its purpose within Nazi policy and extermination plans. Faced with limited foodstuff entering the ghetto, the Jews created various licit and illicit means of internal food distribution, acquisition, and use, at both the communal and individual level. Post-war survivor testimonies and diaries relate the persistent hunger of the ghettos and its effects. Ultimately, hunger and hunger diseases took a terrible toll on the health and lives of many ghetto dwellers.