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The Warsaw Ghetto Uprising

     After Poland's defeat in September 1939 the Germans started persecutions of the Jewish population living on occupied Polish territory. By the decree of the governor Ludwig Fischer of October 2, 1940, a part of Warsaw has been separated from the rest of the city by a wall three-meter high and 16-kilometer long - this was going to be the Jewish ghetto. On a little area of 307 hectares over 400 thousand people have been forced to live; at the same time the Poles who had lived there before have been expelled. The Poles were now forbidden to enter the sealed off area, while the Jews to leave it. The Jews had to carry David's star-marked bands on their arms, as well as to work for the benefit of the Third Reich. They were receiving only minimal, close-to-starvation food rations, which together with various diseases caused high mortality in the ghetto (especially among children and old persons). 
     Although a death penalty had been introduced for helping the Jews, Warsavians and the command of the Underground State - through its  "Żegota" Jewish Relief Council - tried to deliver food and weapons to the ghetto, as well as to smuggle out some of the Jews (especially the children) to the so-called Aryan side.
     Between July and September 1942 the Germans carried out on a big scale the liquidation of the Warsaw ghetto. Through Umschlagplatz (an area adjacent to a railway ramp) at Stawki street around 300 thousand Jews have been deported to gas chambers in Treblinka extermination camp. These barbarian acts of the Hitlerian invaders incited remaining Jews to resist. As a result two underground organizations have been formed - Jewish Military Union (Żydowski Związek Wojskowy) and Jewish Fighting Organization (Żydowska Organizacja Bojowa) - which started preparations for an armed resistance by producing of weapons as well as collecting them from, among others, the Home Army (Armia Krajowa) and circles related to the Polish Socialist Party (Polska Partia Socjalistyczna); they also started building of bunkers and shelters within the ghetto area.
     On April 19, 1943 a group of around one thousand of poorly armed Jewish underground soldiers under the command of Mordechaj Anielewicz with active support of about 50-60 thousand of the ghetto inhabitants started an uneven fight with the German army. Two flags - Polish and Jewish - have been flown above the ghetto buildings by the insurgents. Until July 23 the insurgents managed to fight in the streets, later they were able only to defend themselves from the bunkers. The Germans under the command of SS Brigadeführer Jürgen Stroop were occupying by phases the parts of the city controlled by the insurgents, while systematically destroying buildings and murdering of the Jews found in them. The uprising lasted till middle May, the symbolic end of it being blowing up by the Germans on May 16, 1943 of the Great Synagogue (Wielka Synagoga) at Tłomackie street. About six thousand Jewish soldiers have fallen in the uprising, around seven thousand of the ghetto inhabitants have been murdered, while 40 thousand of others transported by the Germans to the extermination camps in Oświęcim (KL Auschwitz), Treblinka and Majdanek. Having crushed the rising the invaders razed to the ground this part of Warsaw.                 


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Copyright © Muzeum Warszawy :: 2007

  The project is implemented by the Museum of Warsaw in cooperation with the State Archives of City of Warsaw, and the Niedersachsische Gedenkstatten Foundation