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Judenräte (singular Judenrat; German for "Jewish council") were administrative bodies that the Germansmarker required Jews to form in the German occupied territory of Polandmarker, and later in the occupied territories of the Soviet Unionmarker

The first Judenräte were formed by Reinhard Heydrich's orders on September 21, 1939, soon after the end of the German assault on Poland.

The Judenrat served as a liaison between the German occupying authorities and the Jewish communities under occupation. The Judenrat operated pre-existing Jewish communal properties such as hospitals, soup kitchens, day care centers, and vocational schools.

With the formation of ghettos, these bodies became responsible for local government in the ghetto, and stood between the Nazis and the ghetto population. They were generally composed of leaders of the pre-war Jewish community (with the exception of the Soviet Union, where Jewish organizations were eliminated in 1930s). They were forced by the Nazis to provide Jews for use as slave labor, and to assist in the deportation of Jews to extermination camps during the Holocaust. Those who refused to follow Nazi orders or were unable to cooperate fully were frequently rounded up and shot or deported to the extermination camps themselves.

In a number of cases, such as the Minsk ghetto and the Łachwa ghetto, Judenrats cooperated with the resistance movement. In other cases, Judenrats collaborated with the Nazis, on the basis that cooperation might save the lives of the ghetto inhabitants.


When Germany occupied Tunisiamarker, it established the Labor Recruitment Commission (Comité de Recrutement de la Main d'Oeuvre). Paul Ghez, a notable member of the local Jewish community, was appointed its chairman and a number of other notable Jews were detained as hostages. The commission functioned in ways similar to these of Judenrat. Therefore some sources refer to "Judenrat-like" organizations or simply to Judenrat in Tunisia, which is not entirely correct: unlike Judenrat, the Commission was not set as a form of Jewish self-government.


  1. Trunk, Isaiah Judenrat: the Jewish Councils in Eastern Europe under Nazi Occupation, with an introduction by Jacob Robinson. New York: Macmillan, 1972.
  2. "North African Jewry in the Twentieth Century", Michael M. Laskier (1997) ISBN 0814751296, p. 73

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