On September 6, 1941, the Nazis announced their decision about establishing a ghetto in Vilnius. It consisted of two separated parts situated some distance away from each other. The first one, so-called “Duże getto” (“Great Ghetto”) (no. 1) was located around the streets Rudnicka, Jatkowa, Oszmiańska, Żmudzka, Szpitalna, Dziśnieńska and Szawelska; while the “Małe getto” (“Small Ghetto”) was situated between Szklana, Gaona, Klaczki, Antokolskiego, and Żydowska Streets. In the small ghetto about 11-12 thousand people were kept, most of whom were incapable of physical work.
The Archives of the Ringelblum Jewish Historical Institute house an anonymous account describing the living conditions of the Vilnius ghetto: “It was extremely crowded, with 20 people in each room who slept on the floor, one next to another, or on stools. The worst thing was the sanitary conditions and people dreamed about the possibility of taking a shower. In the backyards, people would queue in long lines before the lavatories. (…) Starvation and misery were acute, there was no food but what they got on coupons, and that included 17 dag of bread per day and a very small amount of some different food. No money could be made at all. There was no trade.”
On October 3-21, 1941, the Nazis dissolved the “Małe Getto,” murdering its inhabitants in Ponary near Vilnius. After the crime, the Nazis started a slow extermination of the Jews staying in the “Duże Getto.” Most of them were murdered in Ponary. The last stage of the dissolution fell on the second half of September 1943, when the Jews remaining in the city were deported to the extermination camps in Sobibór and Majdanek, and to the labor camps in Latvia and Estonia.
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