Litzmannstadt Ghetto, Ghetto Lodz

The prayer house and soup kitchens
30 and 31 Franciszkanska St. (Franzstrasse)

When the German occupiers set up the ghetto, the large synagogues of Lodz were gutted within months. The Nazis destroyed these gorgeous structures in November 1939. The same fate was destined for the magnificent synagogue at Wolborska Street, which had once been the pride of the Jewish community of Lodz. The Jews had to organize new prayer houses in the ghetto. One of them was located in what was a cinema called Bajka before the war.

Religious services were held here. A soup kitchen and a canteen for young people also existed here for some time. In the autumn of 1941, when 20,000 Jews arrived from other European countries, the place was allotted to them. The Hamburg Jews were housed here at first. Later, a reformed synagogue was established for the people from outside Poland.

There was also an Orthodox synagogue on the opposite side of the street, at 30 Franciszkanska St. The same place housed a district soup kitchen as well. The synagogue ceased to exist after September 1942. The office of the Clothing Department was then set up here.

The Rabbinical Office was also destroyed at that time. The rabbis were deported to Chelmno-nad-Nerem; some remained and were forced to work in the labor departments. However, the religious observances carried on, although discretely.

Today we have already had a meal in Bajka. The dinner was neither better nor worse, but its capacity was more decent (0,5 l) [liter). In the afternoon, the first group of deportees from Vienna arrived in Marysin. They brought a full wagon load of bread and excellent suitcases. They are wonderfully dressed. Some of them have their sons at the [war] front. There are pastors and doctors. There are thousands of them.
Dawid Sierakowiak, October 16, 1941, p. 64.

It seems that today was our last meal in Bajka. After we finished our dinner, the police came and did not let the next school group in. Some German was shooting into the air then unexpectedly a group of deportees from Czechoslovakia was brought in. They, too, had wonderful luggage and carts loaded with bread. I heard that they were trying to find out if a two-room flat with running water is easy to find.
Dawid Sierakowiak, October 17, 1941, p. 64.

Szmul Boniowka, a well-known cantor of the Great Synagogue, died yesterday. From his first days in the ghetto he celebrated the holiday services in the Bajka and at 26 Zgierska Street. Cantor Boniowka was gifted with a magnificent tenor voice.
The Chronicle of the Lodz Ghetto, July 16, 1942, p. 139.

Large quantities of clothing and shoes were brought to the Clothing Department at 30 Franciszkanska Street, and the people rushed to buy them, as their prices were relatively low for ghetto conditions. The money started to return to the district treasuries again.
The Chronicle of the Lodz Ghetto, May 1942, p. 622.