The supply and distribution of food to the Łódź Ghetto: A case study in Nazi Jewish policy, 1939–1945
This dissertation explores the German use of starvation as genocidal policy through a case study of the Łódź Ghetto. A detailed analysis of food supply and distribution in the Łódź Ghetto reveals that the Nazis, who ultimately controlled the amount of food that entered the ghetto, did not provide adequate sustenance to the Jews of the ghetto. Through the reduction of access to food, the Nazis perpetrated a slow genocide against the Jews of Europe. The Nazis were aware of the murderous effects of their food policies, and allowed those policies to continue resulting in the mass execution of the Jewish people in the ghettos. The basis for denial of sustenance adequate for survival was the low position of the Jews within the Nazi racial hierarchy. The mass starvation of the Jews of the ghetto, who were deemed by the Nazis to be “useless eaters,” led to various coping methods, including a complex system of distributing what little food was allocated for the Jews in the ghetto. The various licit and illicit food entitlement schemas, however, that were manipulated by the German authorities ultimately failed to save the Jews from mass death from starvation. This dissertation examines Nazi and Jewish food entitlement, and the physical and mental effects of hunger and Nazi starvation policy on ghetto inhabitants. It concludes that although there might not have been an explicit order for mass extermination in the initial period of the ghetto, the result of Nazi food policy was a man-made famine leading to mass death, and thus it was de facto genocidal policy.