Litzmannstadt Ghetto, Ghetto Lodz

The Central Prison (Zentral Gefaengnis)
14/16 Czarnieckiego St. (Schneidergasse)

The buildings that once made up the Central Prison where ghetto inmates served their court sentences no longer exist. The location was also an assembly point for people destined for the Nazi labor and death camps.

On October 20, 1940, Rumkowski ordered that a prison for Jews be established in the ghetto. This complex consisted of several brick and wooden buildings. The area was surrounded by a wall, and partially by a wire fence. Czarnieckiego Street was an extension of Krawiecka Street, and that is why its German name was Schneidergasse

The prison was managed by the Jewish police force. Jews were imprisoned here - sometimes without any set sentence - on suspicion of theft, (especially that of food and fuel), bribes, blackmail, and for disobeying Rumkowski's orders. Also temporarily serving time here were people nabbed by Nazi officials (the Gestapo or the Kripo) on suspicion of illegal currency trade, escaping from forced labor sites, smuggling or spreading information harmful to the Third Reich. It was intended to be a prison for Jews, but a number of Poles also were temporarily kept here. The Jewish police caught these Poles trading goods illegally or smuggling food to the ghetto.

It is not clear how many people spent time in the Central Prison. Records show in the first year 2,321 prisoners were held at some point, including 240 women. On average, there was anywhere from several dozen to 300 people or more incarcerated. Sometimes upwards of 500 inmates were kept here at any given time. The majority of the inmates spent a few days to four months in the prison. A Juvenile Detention Center for young offenders was also located at the site. The prisoners worked at the Jewish Cemetery and with the disposal of human waste. Some of them were transported to work outside the ghetto. During the first wave of deportations in January 1942, the prison became an assembly point for people selected to leave. The prisoners had previously been sent to the death camp at Chelmno-nad-Nerem.

After the war, the prison complex was torn down and apartment blocks were built.

On the order by the Eldest of the Jews, the Prison Brigade makes systematic arrests among the notorious criminals and persons whose behavior threatens the order in the ghetto. The arrested will be transported out of the ghetto in groups, as the need for workers arises in Germany. The problem of disposing of the unnecessary element will be solved this way.
The Chronicle of the Lodz Ghetto, April 8, 1941, Vol. 1, p. 119.

The premises fenced with barbed wire were full of people. The aged and the sick were lying directly on the ground. Some people were hanging around among those lying down. I couldn't see Mother and Talka anywhere. I was passing slowly along the wire fences. There were many children in the other part of the courtyard. Most of them, huddled, were sleeping on the ground. Some walked around anxiously. Others were sitting motionless and crying. Very few of them were sitting together with their mothers, and those seemed to be happy for the time being. The picture of the children behind the barbed-wire fence of a prison, the picture of children taken from their parents, this picture I will remember all through my life.

Suddenly, I went weak at my knees and my heart began to thud: I saw Mother and Talka by the prison wall, not far from me. Mother was sitting on the ground with her face in her hands, and Talka was lying next to her, resting her head on Mother's knees.
Sara Zyskind, The Light in the Valley of Tears, p. 106.

On the order of the [German] authorities about 50 people were brought from the prison to Balucki Rynek and transported outside the ghetto from there. The group included a former Jewish policeman, Toronczyk, who was doing time for taking much more vegetables from the square than his ration entitled him to.
The Chronicle of the Lodz Ghetto, November 22,1942, Vol. 2, p. 392.

On the next day, we were ordered to pack our things and to report to the deportation point in the courtyard of the prison at Czarnieckiego Street. There, our documents were checked and each of us was handed a loaf of bread and a small quantity of sugar. Then we were driven towards the station in Marysin. Men, women and children, bending under the weight of their bundles, seemed to proceed in an incessant line. They were leaving the ghetto with mixed feelings. Some hoped that their existence would improve in the new place; others could not get rid of the fears evoked by the travel into the unknown.
Sara Zyskind, The Stolen Years, p. 161.