How The Jewish Police in the Kovno Ghetto Saw Itself
The Kovno ghetto closed on August 15, 1941 with 30,000 inhabitants. The Ältestenrat was the ghetto’s sole representative vis-à-vis the authorities, with the assistance of the Jewish police. Acutely aware of the role of the Police in the ghetto and of the ghetto inhabitants’ criticism, the Police chief appointed several officers, apparently in 1942, to write a manuscript on the history of the Jewish police in the Kovno ghetto, from its establishment. Shortly before the liquidation of the ghetto, apparently on March 28, 1944, the manuscript was buried and discovered by chance some twenty years later. The manuscript deals mostly with the activities of the Jewish police on the background of events in the ghetto from August 1941 to the end of 1942 and several matters in the beginning of 1943. Apart from a few words of criticism – some moderate and some a little harsher – about their duties in the ghetto, there is almost no allusion to the nature of their task – being the operational tool of the German authorities’ towards the Jews. The article includes a comprehensive introduction and extensive selections from three chapters of the manuscript: one on the Great Aktion of October 28, 1941; one dealing with the development of the police’s administrative apparatus after the Aktion; and one dealing with the activities of the police in the last quarter of 1942. An Appendix and photos accompany the article.