Why did the Nazis establish ghettos?

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There are a number of reasons that the Nazis established ghettos. Originally a 'short-term' measure to contain and control Jews, ghettos were very soon incorporated into the Nazi's long-term racial policy.

Ghettos can be classified into three types; Open, Closed and Destruction. 

  • The most common type of ghettos were ‘closed’ ghettos, surrounded by walls, or high barbed wire fences. Jews from the surrounding area were ordered to move into the ghetto, after which time the area was sealed off. Extreme overcrowding, insanitary conditions and lack of food and water contributed to the deaths of a large proportion of the prisoners. 
  • ‘Open’ ghettos were less common, and existed in some parts of German occupied Poland and the Soviet Union after the German invasion. Open ghettos had no walls or fences, but had severe restrictions on who could enter and leave. 
  • ‘Destruction’ ghettos, most commonly constructed within German-occupied Soviet Union and Hungary, were sealed off areas of towns in which Jews were held for just a few weeks before being taken and murdered.

In short, the Nazis built ghettos in order to contain, confine and destroy the Jews of central and eastern Europe.