The Judenrat, or Jewish Council

When the German authorities herded the Jewish population of Poland first into urban areas, and subsequently into ghettos, they required each community to form a Jewish Council. In smaller cities the councils had twelve members, in larger towns the number was twenty-four.

Most often composed of former community leaders, the councils took on all the duties of a local government. Most importantly for the Germans, the councils acted as intermediaries to carry out the their increasingly oppressive dictates, such as providing forced labor battalions for German war factories, and eventually even delivering Jews directly to the trains bound for the death camps.

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