OBJECT OF THE MONTH – May 2007
1. Goods tram in the Lodz ghetto
Pavel Eckstein and his wife Anna were deported on Transport D, which was dispatched from Prague on 31 October 1941. Their destination was the ghetto in Lodz. Set up in the poor quarter of Baluta, the ghetto was sealed off from the rest of the town and guarded by German police units. People lived in shabby huts with no water or sewage system. The prisoners suffered from epidemics and disease, as well as from a lack of food and fuel. This led to thousands of deaths. It was the aim of most prisoners to find a job so as to increase their chance of survival. Pavel Eckstein managed to find work, first as a tram conductor and later, after passing the necessary tests, as a tram driver. This is evidenced by an ID card, which was confirmed by the Jewish Elder („Judenältester“) of Lodz, Mordechai Chaim Rumkowski. Small trams that had been taken out of service in Germany were sent to the ghetto, where they were used for carrying goods and deportees.
As a tram driver, P. Eckstein had the advantage of wearing a uniform, which consisted of a warm coat, cap and felt boots. He remained with his wife in Lodz until the liquidation of the ghetto in the summer of 1944. Anna Eckstein was put in a clean-up crew, along with her husband, and was put to work cleaning the rail track. They both witnessed the deportations of the last prisoners of the ghetto, most of whom were shipped to the extermination camps in Auschwitz and Chelmno. Only a small group of these prisoners were deemed to be capable of working; they were shipped to concentration camps in the Reich. Pavel and Anna Eckstein lived to see the liberation of Lodz by the Red Army on 19 January 1945.
© 2004 - 2008 Jewish Museum in Prague