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Vilna Gaon Museum of Jewish History
Vilniaus Gaono Žydų Istorijos Muziejus



Published: 2021-09-07

According to German health policy, one of the main sanitary tasks was the prevention of various epidemics. Among them, the focus was on typhus fever. To stop it from spreading, Germans occasionally resorted to radical solutions. Cases of typhus in ghettos were kept secret and not without reason. The photo shows the gates of the Vilna ghetto displaying a warning of the danger of epidemics.

Typhus was transmitted by lice, thus fighting lice in the ghetto was just as ardent as outside it. Even a public ‘trial’ of lice was held on Rudininkai St. 6, the final resolution of which was that lice should be destroyed in disinfection chambers. In addition to education, yet another way to combat lice was pinpointed in the decree signed by Jacob Gentz: ‘In case of failure to provide confirmation of a sauna visit in September, the bread cards for October will not be issued.’ The number of cases of typhus in the Vilna Ghetto ranged from 20 to 50, but only a few of them were registered in the ghetto itself – most of the infected were from labour camps.
Prepared by VGMJH museology specialist and tour guide Mantas Šikšnianas
© From the holdings of VGMJH
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