29 August marked the anniversary of the liquidation of the last ghetto in German-occupied Europe.
The last transport from the Łódź Ghetto to Auschwitz left the town on 29 August 1944. Numerous events were arranged to commemorate the 74th anniversary of this tragic event. Among these was a ceremonial Havdalah and debate about Jewish tradition with the participation of Rabbi Dawid Szychowski, held in the synagogue at Rewolucji 1905 r. Street (25.08); the “Pamięć getta” (“Memory of the ghetto”) tour around commemorative sites related to the extermination of Łódź Jews (26.08); the opening of biographical exhibition Bajgelman. Ślady (“Bajgelman: Traces”) in the Marek Edelman Dialogue Centre; live performance by jazz band Tubis Trio under the theme “Sygnowano Bajgelman: Impresje” (“Signed Bajgelman: Impressions”) (26.08); walking tour “Cud, że ręka jeszcze pisze...” (“It's a miracle that the hand is still writing...”) organised by the Łódź Women’s Trail (27.08); meeting with Dr Joanna Lisek entitled “Opowieść o kwitnącej wiśni w łódzkim getcie. Chawa Rosenfarb, Drzewo życia” (“A tale of the blooming cherry tree in the Łódź ghetto. Chawa Rosenfarb, The Tree of Life”) (27.08); meeting devoted to the book Oblicza getta (“The Faces of the Ghetto”) with Prof. Krystyna Radziszewska and Dr Ewa Wiatr (28.08).
The main ceremony was held on 29 August. At 11 am, a prayer was said and candles were lit at the monument in the cemetery at Bracka Street. The ceremony was followed by a “march of memory” along Zmienna and Inflancka streets up to the Radegast Station. Finally, at 7 pm, the “Sygnowano Bajgelman: Get to Tango” (“Signed Bajgelman: Get to Tango”) musical performance was held in the Kazimierz Dejmek New Theatre.
The official part of the ceremony took place at the monument at the Radegast Station. Litzmannstadt Ghetto survivor Leon Weintraub addressed the crowd. He recalled the day he was transported to Auschwitz in a cattle car, crammed with people and yet filled with resounding silence. He also expressed concern over the growth of xenophobic or even anti-Semitic sentiments in Europe and in Poland. Speeches were also delivered by Łódź Mayor Hanna Zdanowska, General Director of the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage Jarosław Czuba, and Archbishop Grzegorz Ryś. Flowers and wreaths were laid under the monument. The Municipal Children’s Choir performed at the site.
Archbishop Ryś emphasised that the number of victims of the Łódź Ghetto reached nearly a quarter of a million people. “It was as if one big city had disappeared from the face of the earth.”