Group 13
"The Group Thirteen" network was a Jewish collaborationist
Collaborationism is cooperation with enemy forces against one's country. Legally, it may be considered as a form of treason. Collaborationism may be associated with criminal deeds in the service of the occupying power, which may include complicity with the occupying power in murder, persecutions,...

 organisation in the Warsaw Ghetto
Warsaw Ghetto
The Warsaw Ghetto was the largest of all Jewish Ghettos in Nazi-occupied Europe during World War II. It was established in the Polish capital between October and November 15, 1940, in the territory of General Government of the German-occupied Poland, with over 400,000 Jews from the vicinity...

 during the Second World War. The Thirteen took its informal name from the address of its main office in Leszno Street 13. The group was founded in December 1940 and led by Abraham Gancwajch
Abraham Gancwajch
Abraham Gancwajch was a prominent Jewish Nazi collaborator in Warsaw Ghetto during Second World War and a "kingpin" of the ghetto underwold.-Biography:Gancwajch was born in Częstochowa, Poland...

, the former head of Hashomer Hatzair
Hashomer Hatzair
Hashomer Hatzair is a Socialist–Zionist youth movement founded in 1913 in Galicia, Austria-Hungary, and was also the name of the group's political party in the Yishuv in the pre-1948 British Mandate of Palestine...

W. D. Rubinstein, The Left, the Right, and the Jews, Universe Books, 1982, ISBN 0876634005, Google Print, p. 136. in Łódź. Sanctioned by Sicherheitsdienst
Sicherheitsdienst , full title Sicherheitsdienst des Reichsführers-SS, or SD, was the intelligence agency of the SS and the Nazi Party in Nazi Germany. The organization was the first Nazi Party intelligence organization to be established and was often considered a "sister organization" with the...

 (SD), and also known as the Jewish Gestapo, the unit reported directly to German Gestapo
The Gestapo was the official secret police of Nazi Germany. Beginning on 20 April 1934, it was under the administration of the SS leader Heinrich Himmler in his position as Chief of German Police...


The group vied for control of the ghetto with the Judenrat
Judenräte were administrative bodies during the Second World War that the Germans required Jews to form in the German occupied territory of Poland, and later in the occupied territories of the Soviet Union It is the overall term for the enforcement bodies established by the Nazi occupiers to...

 and infiltrated the Jewish opposition within the ghetto.

The group's most important branch was the Office to Combat Usury and Profiteering in the Jewish Quarter of Warsaw. Supposed to combat the black market, it actually collected large sums via racketeering, blackmail
In common usage, blackmail is a crime involving threats to reveal substantially true or false information about a person to the public, a family member, or associates unless a demand is met. It may be defined as coercion involving threats of physical harm, threat of criminal prosecution, or threats...

 and extortion
Extortion is a criminal offence which occurs when a person unlawfully obtains either money, property or services from a person, entity, or institution, through coercion. Refraining from doing harm is sometimes euphemistically called protection. Extortion is commonly practiced by organized crime...

s. The group also ran its own prison. In total, the group numbered between three and four hundred uniformed Jewish officers, distinguished by caps with green bands. In July 1941 Group 13 lost to the Judenrat in the political arena and the Office was incorporated into the Jupo.

After the Office was closed the remaining members of the Group 13 centered around Gancwajch concentrated their efforts on their own hospital and ambulance service (the so-called Emergency Service or First Aid Station which was created in May 1941) which however quickly became used predominantly for smuggling and contraband. They also had other operations, for example a brothel at 'Britannica' hotel and near total control over the horse-drawn carriages and all transportation within the ghetto.

In mid-1941, shortly before the Office was closed, there was a split in the Group leadership, when Morris Kohn and Zelig Heller broke with Gancwajch and established their own organizations. Kohn and Heller eventually outlasted the Group, and their demise only came during the mass deportations from the ghetto. The rise and fall of the Group was likely related to the struggles for power between various factions in German military and bureaucracy who supported various factions in the Ghetto for their own purposes.

In April 1942 many members of the Group 13 were shot by the Germans. Gancwajch and surviving members of the group later re-emerged posing as Jewish underground fighters, though in reality they were hunting for Poles hiding or otherwise supporting the Jews. After closing the Jewish Gestapo, Gancwajch stayed in Warsaw
Warsaw is the capital and largest city of Poland. It is located on the Vistula River, roughly from the Baltic Sea and from the Carpathian Mountains. Its population in 2010 was estimated at 1,716,855 residents with a greater metropolitan area of 2,631,902 residents, making Warsaw the 10th most...

 outside the ghetto, where he continued working for the Nazis
Nazism, the common short form name of National Socialism was the ideology and practice of the Nazi Party and of Nazi Germany...

. He was rumored to have died around 1943; a hypothesis about his post-war collaboration with NKVD
The People's Commissariat for Internal Affairs was the public and secret police organization of the Soviet Union that directly executed the rule of power of the Soviets, including political repression, during the era of Joseph Stalin....

was never confirmed.
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