The city of Lodz is located about 75 miles southwest of Warsaw, Poland. The Jews of Lodz formed the second largest Jewish community in pre-war Poland, after Warsaw. German troops occupied Lodz one week after Germany invaded Poland on September 1, 1939. Lodz was annexed to Germany as part of the Warthegau.
Lodz was known as the “Polish Manchester”. It was an industrial, multi-ethnic city of the 19th century. Its smokestacks and factories dotted the entire landscape as its population grew almost 1000% in less than a century. People were drawn here by opportunity to find work and the work opportunities grew and grew.
The history of the Jewish community is very much interrelated with the city’s economic growth. The first Jewish families came to Lodz before 1775 and by 1793 there were 11 Jewish families recorded. By 1820 there were 259 Jewish families and at this time the organisation of a community had begun to take shape. The first Synagogue was established in 1809 at Wolborska Street and a cemetery was built in 1811 and remained ‘open’ until 1892. It was unfortunately destroyed by the Nazis.