The Warsaw Ghetto was the largest of all the Jewish ghettos in Nazi-occupied Europe during World War II. It was established in Warsaw between October and November 16, 1940, sealed off from the rest of the city by 10 foot high walls topped with barbed wire and glass. Over 400,000 Jews from the vicinity resided in an area of 1.3 sq mi for a population density of 308,000 residents per sq mi. To give some meaning to these numbers, the United States has an average density of about 90 residents per sq mi; the currently most densely populated city on earth, Manila, has about 111,000 residents per sq mi.
Starvation was rampant in the Ghetto, accounting for most of 5,000 deaths every month; transports to the Treblinka extermination camp accounted for 5000 deaths every day from July through September 1942. By the end of the transports in 1942, there were only about 60,000 Jew left in the “Little Ghetto” south of Chlodna St. Jews who survived until the Ghetto Uprising in April 1943 had to depend on smuggling and the black market for supplies. They also had to be well-connected to avoid deportation.
Among those fighting for survival under such horrific conditions, were a young Jewish couple with a newborn infant girl. Pnina’s birthdate is not known, nor is the date she was taken in by Charlotte. From the few clues we have, we believe Pnina was about nine months old when she was smuggled from the Ghetto in early 1943, not too long before the Ghetto Uprising. She must have been born about the time of the mass transports in the summer of 1942. Yet her mother, either as a very pregnant woman, or a new mother with a tiny infant, avoided the Umschlagsplatz.
There are other clues that indicate that Pnina’s parents had influence.