Survival Strategies of Jews in Baltic Ghettos: Socio-Economic Factor (1941-1944)

  • Maryna Mykhailiuk Institute of Ukrainian Archeography and Source Studies of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine
Keywords: Baltic States, Lithuania, Latvia, Holocaust, ghetto, camps-ghetto, Jewish survival


The purpose of the research paper is to highlight and analyze the ego-documents of Latvian and Lithuanian Jews about their stay in the Baltic city ghettos. The article does not cover the issue of the survival of Jews deported from the Reich, the organization of the Resistance movement (as one of the methods of survival), the help of the non-Jewish population, as they are separate topics of research.

The scientific novelty lies in the opportunity to show the living conditions of survival of Jews in the urban ghettos of Riga, Daugavpils, Vilnius, Kaunas with a wide involvement of the source base (diary records, memories).

Conclusions. Analyzing the life of Lithuanian and Latvian Jews in large urban ghettos, one can come to the following conclusions: the survival of Jews directly depended on their position, professional specialization, financial situation, living conditions, availability of work, health, and necessary connections. For the vast majority of Jews, life in the ghetto was not full of bright colors, but had a gray, mundane appearance. Only wealthy Jews who had some savings felt more or less secure compared to others. Most of the Jews were starving and begging for alms, mostly young children. The most difficult situation was observed in those families that did not have able-bodied relatives and barely survived at the expense of their own economy or barter trade. Those who had to hide in ghetto shelters for months felt much worse.

Living conditions in urban ghettos cannot be called luxurious, since during the occupation people lived in cramped conditions, but with the benefits of civilization. The heating depended on the condition of the house, but mostly had a stove character. One of the conditions for survival in the ghetto was the availability of medical care and the ability to purchase medicine, as well as not breaking the established rules. The least chance of survival in the ghetto was given to the old, infirm, sick, disabled, mothers with small children, as they were recognized as unfit for work and were the first to be put on the ‘shooting’ lists. As well as families of refugees who were also doomed to extermination.


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How to Cite
Mykhailiuk, M. (2024). Survival Strategies of Jews in Baltic Ghettos: Socio-Economic Factor (1941-1944). Eminak: Scientific Quarterly Journal, (4(44), 148-170.
Modern History