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Petition of Asna Zhurkovska

Zhurkovska, Asna petition 1940
Courtesy of The Head Office of the State Archives, Warsaw
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tags: children & youth family food & hunger ghettos

type: Petition

Following the German invasion of Poland in 1939, occupation authorities established a ghetto in the city of Łódź and forced all the city's Jews to move there. Jews faced terrible conditions in the ghetto, including overcrowding, disease, and mass starvation. A Jewish administration known as a Jewish Council (Judenrat) was appointed to ensure that German orders and regulations were implemented. The archive of the Łódź ghetto1 contains many petitions sent to Mordechai Chaim Rumkowski, the chairman of the ghetto's Judenrat.2

In December 1940, a 35-year-old woman by the name of Asna Zhurkovska wrote a petition to the Łódź ghetto orphanage, "under the purview of the Elder of the Jews."3 Like many other parents living in the ghetto, Zhurkovska was overcome by hardship and unable to support her children. She was worried that they would starve unless somebody stepped in to provide for them. She begged the orphanage to take her daughter to prevent her death.

It is unclear exactly what had happened to Zhurkovska's husband, but he had either died or had been killed. The large volume of orphanage petitions in the archives points to the growing challenges of sustaining families within the ghetto.

The fates of Asna Zhurkovska and her children remain unknown.

The archive was established in the fall of 1940 in order to document life in the ghetto. For a selection of documents from the Łódź ghetto archive available in English translation, see Lucjan Dobroszycki, ed., The Chronicle of the Łódź Ghetto, 1941-1944 (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1984).See also Isaiah Trunk, Łódź Ghetto: A History (Bloomington: Indiana University Press in association with the United States Holocaust Memorial Musuem, 2006).

To view another of these petitions, see the related Experiencing History item, Petition of Meir Halle.

Leaders of Nazi appointed Jewish councils were referred to as "elders" in Nazi terminology.

The stamped date and the phrase "to the orphanage" in the upper left corner are in Polish, while the rest of the petition is in Yiddish. The note in Polish was probably added by ghetto archivists to suggest a filing destination.

Litzmannstadt was the German name for the Łódź ghetto.

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December 12, 1940
To the orphanage1

To the institution of the Orphanage
Under the purview
of the Elder of the Jews
in Litzmannstadt Ghetto.2


Asna Zhurkovska

35 years old.  Residence: 15 Aleksander St., Apt. 13

As I begin to dictate my petition to you, dear father of the orphans, I write not with ink but with blood and tears. It is not I who dictates my request but my desolation and poverty. The paper cries with me, and my pen is witness to the poverty in which I find myself, without means to live.  I am a widow with 3 orphans, and I find myself in a critical state that my pen is not prepared to describe. And I come to you begging not with entreaties but with blood and tears, and if you could just take my youngest child, a little girl, she is 10 years old, so that she doesn't die of cold and hunger. And I turn specifically to you, and I call you: Father of my orphan, save my child from hunger and cold. I hope that a spark of mercy will arouse your Jewish hearts and you will take my painful petition into consideration.

Respectfully, Asna Zhurkovska, 15 Aleksander St., Apt. 13. Litzmannstadt ghetto. December 9th.

Archival Information for This Item

Source (Credit)
Courtesy of The Head Office of the State Archives, Warsaw
RG Number 15.083
Date Created
December 9, 1940
Author / Creator
Asna Zhurkovska
Łódź, Poland
Document Type Petition
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