The Judenrat was a council
of Jewish elder
s created by the Nazis to maintain control within ghetto
s. The Judenrat served as a liason
between the Jews in the ghetto and their Nazi captors. They performed functions for the Nazis such as population counts
, maintaining order within the ghetto, distributing food
and medical supplies, and often choosing who would be delivered for deportation to fulfill the periodic quotas imposed by the Nazis.
Later, they would also take on many of the functions of a local government such as police protection, fire control, postal services, and sanitation. They also often acted as social workers, trying to place orphaned children with other families, or to find rations for people who could not work.
The Judenrat played an ambiguous role, walking the line between collaboration and protection. Many Jewish leaders refused to serve as members, but most were eventually forced to do so by Nazi threats.