Police Battalion 101

police battalion 101 -lodz ghetto

Police Battalion 101 - Guard Duty Litzmannstadt Ghetto (USHMM)

When Nazi Germany invaded Poland during September 1939, Police Battalion 101 from Hamburg was one of the initial battalions attached to a German army group. The unit crossed the border from Oppeln in Silesia, and passed through Czestochowa, to the Polish city of Kielce. There it was involved in rounding up Polish soldiers and military equipment behind the German front-lines and guarding a Prisoner-of-War camp. On December 17, 1939, the battalion returned to Hamburg, where about one hundred of its career policemen were transferred to form additional units, and they were replaced by middle-aged reservists drafted in the autumn of 1939.

During May 1940, following a period of training, the battalion was sent from Hamburg to the Warthegau, in western Poland annexed to the Third Reich. Initially, it was based in Posen (Poznan) until late June 1940, when it was sent to Litzmannstadt (Lodz) to carry out resettlement actions for a period of five months. It was part of the Nazi plan to 'Germanise' the so-called newly annexed territories, and the Police Battalion 101, evacuated 36,972 people into the General -Gouvernement.

On November 28, 1940, Police Battalion 101, took up guard duty around the Litzmannstadt ghetto, which had been sealed seven months earlier, at the end of April 1940. The ghetto inhabitants, some 160,000 Jews were cut off from the rest of the city by a barbed wire fence. Guarding the ghetto became the major task of the unit, which had a standing order, to shoot, 'without further ado' any Jews who ignored the posted warning signs and came too close to the ghetto fences.