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Warsaw Ghetto & Uprising


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The Warsaw Ghetto (pol. "Getto Warszawskie" ) 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 crammed into an area of 1.3 square miles (3.4 km2).

From there, about 254,000 Ghetto residents were sent to Treblinka extermination camp during the two months of summer 1942. The sheer death-toll among the Jewish inhabitants of the Ghetto during the Großaktion Warschau would have been difficult to compare even with the liquidation of the Ghetto in spring of next year during and after the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising which meant annihilation of additional 50,000 people followed by the actual razing of the ghetto.With the inclusion of the Ghetto falling at least 300,000 Polish Jews lost their lives there.

Like all the Ghettos in Poland, the Germans ascribed the administration to a Judenrat (a council of the Jews), led by an "Ältester" (the eldest). In Warsaw this role was attributed to Adam Czerniaków, who chose a policy of collaboration with the Nazis rather than revolt. Adam Czerniaków confided his harrowing experience in several diaries. He became aware of his own tragic duplicity in July 1942 and committed suicide.

Although his personality has remained less infamous than Mordechai Chaim Rumkowski, the "Ältester" of the Lodz Ghetto, Adam Czerniaków's collaboration with the Nazi policy is the paradigm of the attitude of the majority of the European Jews vis à vis Nazism. The Jewish collaboration authority was supported by a Jewish Ghetto Police.

According to Lucy S. Dawidowicz:

From its inception, the Judenrat was looked upon as a reincarnation of the kehillas. Czerniakow's first draft of October, 1939; for organizing the Warsaw Judenrat, was just a rehash of conventional kehilla departments: chancellery, welfare, education, rabbinate...

But she adds:

In performing these functions, the kehilla had operated a "gemeinschaft" institution... But the Kehilla was an anomalous institution. Throughout its history in czarist Russia, it served also as an instrument of the state, obligated to carry out the regime's policies within the Jewish community, even though these policies were frequently oppressive and specifically anti-Jewish.. Conditions A child dying in the streets of the Warsaw Ghetto September 19, 1941

During the next year and a half, thousands of Polish Jews as well as some Romani people from smaller cities and the countryside were brought into the Ghetto, while diseases (especiallybtyphus), and starvation kept the inhabitants at about the same number. Average food rations in 1941 for Jews in Warsaw were limited to 186 calories, compared to 1,669 calories for gentile Poles and 2,614 calories for Germans.

Unemployment was a major problem in the ghetto. Illegal workshops were created to manufacture goods to be sold illegally on the outside and raw goods were smuggled in, often by children. Hundreds of four to five year old Jewish children went across en masse to the "Aryan side," sometimes several times a day, smuggling food into the ghettos, returning with goods that often weighed more than they did.

Smuggling was often the only source of subsistence for Ghetto inhabitants, who would otherwise have died of starvation. Despite the grave hardships, life in the Warsaw Ghetto was rich with educational and cultural activities, conducted by its underground organizations. Hospitals, public soup kitchens, orphanages, refugee centers and recreation facilities were formed, as well as a school system.

Some schools were illegal and operated under the guise of a soup kitchen. There were secret libraries, classes for the children and even a symphony orchestra. The life in the ghetto was chronicled by the Oyneg Shabbos group. In May 1942 a propaganda film was filmed in Warsaw ghetto- the A Film Unfinished which however was never shown.

Over 100,000 of the Ghetto's residents died due to rampant disease or starvation, as well as random killings, even before the Nazis began massive deportations of the inhabitants from the Ghetto's Umschlagplatz to the Treblinka extermination camp during the Grossaktion Warschau, part of the countrywide Operation Reinhard. Between Tisha B'Av (July 23) and Yom Kippur (September 21) of 1942, about 254,000 Ghetto residents (or at least 300,000 by different accounts) were sent to Treblinka and murdered there.

 Polish resistance officer Jan Karski reported to the Western governments in 1942 on the situation in the Ghetto and on the extermination camps. By the end of 1942, it was clear that the deportations were to their deaths, and many of the remaining Jews decided to fight.

Warsaw Ghetto Uprising and destruction of the Ghetto Warsaw Ghetto; 1943 Warsaw ghetto {east view} in 1945

On January 18, 1943, after almost four months without any deportations, the Germans suddenly entered the Warsaw ghetto intent upon a further deportation. Within hours, some 600 Jews were shot and 5,000 others rounded up. The Germans expected no resistance, but preparations to resist had been going on since the previous autumn. 

The first instances of Jewish armed resistance began that day. The Jewish fighters had some success: the expulsion stopped after four days and the ?OB and ?ZW resistance organizations took control of the Ghetto, building shelters and fighting posts and operating against Jewish collaborators.

The final battle started on the eve of Passover of April 19, 1943, when a Nazi force consisting of several thousand troops entered the ghetto. After initial setbacks, the Germans under the field command of Jürgen Stroop systematically burned and blew up the ghetto buildings, block by block, rounding up or murdering anybody they could capture.

Significant resistance ended on April 23, and the Nazi operation officially ended in mid-May, symbolically culminating with the demolition of the Great Synagogue of Warsaw on May 16. According to the official report, at least 56,065 people were killed on the spot or deported to German Nazi concentration and death camps, most of them to Treblinka.

Ruins of Warsaw Ghetto, leveled by German forces, according to Adolf Hitler's order, after suppressing of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising in 1943. North-west view, left - the Krasi?ski`s Garden and Swi?tojerska street, photo taken in 1945 Remnants of the Ghetto today A remnant of the Ghetto's wall at backyard of house at Z?ota Street 60

The ghetto was almost entirely levelled during the uprising; however, a number of buildings and streets survived, mostly in the "small ghetto" area, which had been closed earlier and was not involved in the fighting.

The buildings on Pró?na street are the original residential buildings that once housed Jews in the Warsaw Ghetto. The buildings have largely remained empty since the war and the street is the focus for the annual Warsaw Jewish Festival. Nearby, the No?yk Synagogue also survived the war, as it was used as a stables by the German Wehrmacht.

The synagogue has today been restored and is once again used as a synagogue. The last remaining piece of the ghetto wall is located at ul. Z?ota 62. There is a small monument on a mound at ul. Mila 18 to commemorate the site of the Jewish underground headquarters during the Ghetto Uprising.



Tosia Altman

Tova (Toshia) Altman 

(1918 – 1943)

Worked with Mordechai Anielewicz as a member of the ?OB during the Warsaw ghetto uprising.

She initially worked as a courier, making contact with Jewish resistance groups outside of the ghetto and providing them with updates on resistance clashes, as well as providing educational material that was banned by the occupying German forces. Later, she was critical in helping to smuggle weapons and explosives into the Warsaw ghetto.

She escaped a capture attempt on 18 January 1943 and moved to the ZOB bunker at 18 Mi?a Street, she was one of the few to survive the battle on 8 May that saw the bunker abandoned and Mordechai Anielewicz killed.

Despite suffering wounds to the leg and head, Altman was able to join a group of approximately seventy-five resistance fighters who left the ghetto on 10 May in a daring sewer escape. She was captured again by the Nazis on 24 May when the celluloid factory she was sheltering in accidentally caught fire and she suffered severe burns. She was taken into custody by the Gestapo and died shortly afterward, receiving no medical treatment.

  • (1918 – 1943

Mordechai Anielewicz

Mordechaj Anielewicz 

(1919 – 8 May 1943)

Was the leader of ?ydowska Organizacja Bojowa (English: Jewish Combat Organization), also known as ?OB, during the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising from January to May 1943.

Anielewicz was born into a poor family in the small town of Wyszków near Warsaw. After he completed his high school studies, he joined and became a leader of the "Hashomer Hatzair", the Zionist-socialist youth movement.

On 7 September 1939, a week after the German invasion of Poland, Anielewicz escaped with a group from Warsaw to the east of the country in the hopes that the Polish Army would slow down the German advance. When the Soviet Red Armyinvaded and then occupied Eastern Poland in accordance with the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact, Anielewicz heard that Jewish refugees, other youth movement members and political groups had flocked to VilnaLithuania, which was then under Soviet control.

He travelled to Vilna and attempted to convince his colleagues to send people back to Poland to continue the fight against the Germans. He then attempted to cross the Romanian border in order to open a route for young Jews to get to the Mandate of Palestine, but was caught and thrown into a Soviet jail. He was released a short time later, and returned to Warsaw in January 1940 with his girlfriend, Mira Fuchrer.

Anielewicz and girlfriend Mira Fuchrer in the destroyed Warsaw Ghetto (a painting by Shimon Garmize) A monument of Anielewicz standing on the site of the bunker Mila 18

In the summer of 1942 Anielewicz visited the southwest region of Poland – annexed to Germany – attempting to organize armed resistance. Upon his return to Warsaw, he found that a major deportation to the Treblinka extermination camp had been carried out and only 60,000 of the Warsaw Ghetto's 350,000 Jews remained. He soon joined the ?OB, and in November 1942 he was appointed as the group's chief commander. A connection with the Polish government in exile in London was made and the group began receiving weapons from the Polish underground on the "Aryan" side of the city.

On 18 January 1943, Anielewicz was instrumental in the first act of theWarsaw Ghetto Uprising, preventing the majority of a second wave of Jews from being deported to extermination camps. This initial incident of armed resistance was a prelude to the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising that commenced on 19 April.

Though there were no surviving eyewitnesses, it is assumed that he took his own life on 8 May 1943, along with his girlfriend and many of his staff, in a mass suicide at the surrounded ?OB command post at 18 Mi?a Street. His body was never found and it is generally believed that it was carried off to nearby crematoria along with those of all the other Jewish dead; nevertheless, the inscription on the memorial at the site of the Mi?a 18 bunker states that he is buried there.

  • 1919 – 8 May 1943

Adam Czerniaków

Adam Czerniaków 

(30 November 1880 – 23 July 1942),

Born in WarsawPoland, was a Polish-Jewishengineer and senator to the prewar Polish Sejm for Nonpartisan Bloc for Cooperation with the Government. He committed suicide in the Warsaw Ghetto on 23 July 1942 by swallowing a cyanide pill, a day after the commencement of mass extermination of Jews known as the Grossaktion Warsaw.

Czerniaków studied engineering and taught in the Jewish community's vocational school in Warsaw. From 1927 to 1934 he served as member of the Warsaw Municipal Council, and in 1931 was elected to the Polish Senate. On 4 October 1939, a few days after the city's surrender to the Nazis, Czerniaków was made head of the 24 member Judenrat (Jewish Council), responsible for implementing Nazi orders in the new Jewish Ghetto.

As the German authorities began preparing for mass deportations of Jews from the Warsaw Ghetto to the newly built Treblinka extermination camp in July 1942, the Jewish Council was ordered to provide lists of Jews and maps of their residences. On 22 July 1942, the Judenrat received instructions from the SS that all Warsaw Jews were to be "resettled" to the East.

Exceptions were made for Jews working in Nazi German factories, Jewish hospital staff, members of the Judenrat with their families, members of the Jewish Ghetto Police with their families. Over the course of the day, Czerniaków was able to obtain exemptions for a handful of individuals, including sanitation workers, husbands of women working in factories, and some vocational students. He was not, however, despite all his pleading, able to obtain an exemption for orphans from the Janusz Korczak's orphanage.

The orders further stated that the deportations would begin immediately at the rate of 6,000 people per day, to be supplied by the Judenrat and rounded up by the Jewish Ghetto Police. Failure to comply would result in immediate execution of some one hundred hostages, including employees of the Judenrat and Czerniaków's own wife.[3]

Realizing that deportation meant death, Czerniaków went to plead for the orphans. When he failed, he returned to his office and took one of the cyanide capsules he had been keeping for just such an occasion. He left a suicide note to his wife, reading “They demand me to kill children of my nation with my own hands. I have nothing to do but to die,” and one to his fellow members of the Judenrat, explaining: "I can no longer bear all this. My act will prove to everyone what is the right thing to do."

Czerniaków kept a diary from 6 September 1939, until the day of his death. It was published in 1979 and has been translated into English. His wife, Niunia, survived the war and preserved his diaries; their only son, Jas, fled to Soviet territory, but did not survive the war. Adam Czerniaków is interred in the Okopowa Street Jewish Cemetery in Warsaw.

Adam Czerniaków's and his wife's grave at Jewish Cemetery in Warsaw

  • 30 November 1880 – 23 July 1942

Abraham Gancwajch The "13"

Nazi Collaborators in the Warsaw Ghetto

Abraham Gancwajch was born in Czestochowa but spent some time in Vienna and Lodz. He was a journalist and returned to Poland from Austria in 1936. In Lodz he worked as an editor of a pacifist anti-Nazi newspaper, but left Lodz and moved to Warsaw during the Nazi occupation.

He was the moving spirit behind the organisation known as the “Thirteen” which will be covered in greater detail below, which was dissolved in July 1941. He worked for the German Security Police in Warsaw, passing information to them about conditions in the ghetto, and the Jewish Underground. 

The Thirteen  (Trzynastka) 

 Within the Warsaw Ghetto an agency known as the “Thirteen” – Trzynastka in Polish – and Das Draitzental in Yiddish was established.

The agency took its name from the address of its headquarters at 13 Leszno Street, and was imposed on the ghetto by the Germans. The principal aim of the “Thirteen” which was founded in December 1940 was the Office to Combat Usury and Profiteering in the Jewish Quarter of Warsaw.

Its personnel sported polished boots, caps with a green band, epaulets and stars to denote rank. The ranks of the “Thirteen” numbered around three to four hundred men.

In May 1941 Abraham Gancwajch agency set up “First Aid” a kind of Red Cross emergency station. Gancwajch also established a department to supervise weights and measures in the Warsaw ghetto and an organisation of disabled veterans of the 1939 fighting, as well as cultural and religious societies.

Gancwajch’s past was shrouded in mystery, but his arrival and prominence in the Ghetto was no doubt sanctioned by the Germans, Gancwajch himself claimed that his privileged position grew out of his recommendation to the Germans by a relative of his, Moshe Merin, who was Chairman of the District Judenrat in Zaglebie.

A squad of the "Thirteen" march through the Warsaw Ghetto

Others claimed his rise to power was due to the recommendations of Dr. Ohlenbusch, whom Gancwajch had met when he was a journalist. Dr Ohlembush was in charge of the Propaganda department in Warsaw District, and subsequently was in charge of the Propaganda Department of Governor Frank’s administration in Cracow.

Stanislaw Adler recounted the membership conditions, and some of the members of the 13 cadres:

“The admission fee to become a member of the “13” was several thousand zlotys. At one point, when Gancwajch was in need of money, he began increasing the membership of his staff daily, and this provided him with a substantial sum of money.

This money was not for his personal use, but to pay bribes to the Germans to protect the “13” against threats of ending its existence. No special formalities or screening were used in recruiting candidates for the “13” so it comes as no surprise that elements from the criminal world became part of this organisation.

That the majority of these men became future Jewish Gestapo men, demonstrated who patronised the “13” and for the majority of the Jewish population, they viewed this organisation with suspicion and fear.

Amongst Gancwajch men were Dr Herbert Stahrer from Gdansk, his secretary and legal council and Dawid Sternfeld, a native of Lodz, who from his physical appearance could have been a boxer, a coolie or even a terrorist. This dull character was undoubtedly a Gestapo man, which did not save him from being executed by the Germans when he outlived his usefulness.”

Wartime photo of 13 Lezno St in Warsaw

The officials of the “13” took up their sentry posts at the ghetto gates along the walls of the ghetto and in the market place, but it is impossible to say whether their presence had any impact on reducing prices.

They managed to display an exceptional ability for promoting their own interests, the officials of the “13” possessed special provision cards with which they obtained bread and other products by blackmail. The threat of reporting a storekeeper on a charge of usury was so serious that each and every official of the “13” shortly found himself abounding in plenty.

In the beginning, the “13” had included the infamous Moritz Kohn and Zelig Heller, two promising young men from Lodz who had already acquired in the first year of the war a considerable fortune made by intervening to free arrested Jews from prison and cancelling confiscations.

They carried out their activities in a regular office where crowds of clients waited their turn. But work in the “13” proved too modest an occupation for Kohn and Heller and very soon they left the battle against usury and speculation and established their own horse-drawn tramway company. Both of these men were murdered by the Germans in August 1942.

Dr Stabenow of the Warsaw Ghetto Security Police acted as patron for Gancwajch and his clique, and the rise and fall of the “13” mirrored the clashes within the German Security forces. The “13” was not the only bone that the Gestapo had thrown to Gancwajch he was also responsible for the administration of approximately a hundred Jewish houses on Leszno Street.

In front of the candidates who aspired to jobs as house managers, Gancwajch delivered impassioned speeches in which he was severely critical of the Jewish Council, and forecasted his own reign and promised a blissful era in the Jewish Quarter.

A section of Lezno St in the Warsaw Ghetto

The next of his many ventures was the formation of a Jewish Emergency Medical Service, the house committees were taxed on behalf of the Emergency Medical Service, many people resented the payment, but did so out of fear.

Dispensaries and out-patient clinics were established but never opened their doors, instead two-man patrols in the uniform of the Red Emergency Service circulated through the ghetto, in order to provide aid to the sick.

But in truth they ran in the other direction whenever they encountered anyone in need of assistance, since they had neither training or experience in first-aid matters. Their coffee flasks and bread containers were empty and their emergency kits contained only iodine.

Stanislaw Adler recalled the Emergency Medical Services ambulance:

“Gancwajch’s only real contribution to rescue operations was the ambulance that he put into action for the transport of the sick. This was a vehicle that had been in service for at least a hundred years, was in a bad shape, painted a repulsive shade of dirty blue and was drawn by a terribly emaciated, worn –out horse.

 I could imagine a similar or perhaps the same vehicle being used years earlier for the transport of people stricken with cholera. Now, however, for an adequate fee it carried sick people, freeing the rickshaw from that task.”

The “Thirteen” and the Warsaw Judenrat were locked in a long and bitter struggle, and Adam Czerniakow was in an ideal position to describe his personal battles with Gancwajch and the eventual demise of the “Thirteen” in his diary:

Stanislaw Adler

December 3 1940

Gancwajch and Sternfeld paid us a visit. I asked them not to use the name of the Judenrat in their announcements.

May 8 1941

Several days ago Gancwajch organised a gathering (a tea party) and kept his guests through the night. Among those invited were Korczak, naturally Stanislaw Rozenberg, Glocer, etc. One of those present came to offer excuses for going there.

Gancwajch kept on bitching about the Community Authority, lying shamelessly that he will get the workshop going and indeed “cultural life.”

May 10 1941

In the morning I was informed by Scherer that he would be replaced by Knoll. Knoll inquired why Gancwajch and Sternfeld are trying to oust me from the Council, adding they are quite a pair, to which I retorted that that was indeed the case. Knoll then commented that the Community Authority would disintegrate in 10 days if they took it over.

May 30 1941

Heinz Auerswald

Auerswald said that the “13” is going to be subordinated to the Council. Gancwajch must be admitted to the Community Authority. To a question as to whether I am to take him into the Council he replied this would not be necessary, suggesting that he could perhaps be made our legal counsel. Gancwajch sent us a letter today with a request for admission.

June 6 1941

I received Gancwajch in the presence of Zundelewicz and Szerynski. He informed me that he was going to report to his authorities that the “13” personnel are to be incorporated into the Order Service, not as a unit, but dispersed, with a special section in the headquarters, and the enforcement of price control regulations decentralised in the precincts.

June 11 1941

Repeated threats from Gancwajch. He was to see the Kommissar today. I went with Szerynski to the Gestapo. Brandt called Levertzow for a conference. Levertzow told him that he is not Gancwajch’s protector.

July 21 1941

In the Community I received a letter from the Kommissar on the Gancwajch bureau. Has his career come to an end? Tempi di guerra tempi di carriera  (In war’s gloom, careers bloom).

To the Control Office for Combating the Black Market and Profiteering in the Jewish District of Warsaw.

 att. A Gancwajch

       13 Leszno Street


The Control Office for Combating the Black Market and Profiteering in the Jewish District of Warsaw is hereby dissolved.

Members of the Control Office are forbidden to engage any further activities for which the office was responsible.

Property of the Control Office is to devolve on the Chairman of the Jewish Council in Warsaw – Administration of the Jewish District.

Official books and all records are to be delivered to the Chairman of the Jewish Council.

Identification cards made out to employees of the office and items of equipment issued to them (caps etc) are to be confiscated and likewise delivered to the Chairman of the Jewish Council.

Members of the Control Office will be transferred, as suited, to the Jewish Order Service. The assignment of leading employees is reserved.

Signed      - Auerswald    

July 17, 1941

Even with the disbanding of the “Thirteen” network Czerniakow still had dealings with Gancwajch, and his entry for the 25 February 1942 reveals what he really thought about someone who had sold his soul to the Germans:

February 25 1942

Adam Czerniakow

I had a visit in my office from Gancwajch with pleas of a personal nature. What a despicable ugly creature.

May 27 1942

In the morning with Lejkin to Brandt. Brandt declared that if any Jewish family hides Gancwajch, Sternfeld Zachariasz, and one Zelman, it will suffer the consequences.

Abraham Lewin wrote about Gancwajch in his diary of the Warsaw ghetto, and it is clear to see that rumours played a large part in the accounts of the diarist’s.

May 24 194

Last night once again a number of Jews were shot. At the moment we know the names of four of them: Szymonowicz, Hurwicz, Mandel and Lewin. They are all said to have been closely connected with the “Thirteen.”

Pages from Czerniakow's diary

The Nazis treat their assistants and servants, Jewish renegades and informers, according to an old German practice: the Moor has done his work, the Moor can go. Word has it that they visited the homes of the two “big men” Gancwajch, and Sternfeld, but they were not there. They are in hiding.

May 29 1942

Today rumours have been going round that Gancwajch has been caught in Otwock – others say it was in Radomsko or Czestochowa- and shot dead. As is well known the following four are wanted by the Germans: Gancwajch, Sternfeld and the Zachariasz brothers.

In every entrance hall in the ghetto there hangs an announcement that whoever hides the wanted men or helps them in any way whatsoever will be shot along with their entire family. The same fate threatens all the occupants of the building where one of the

 fugitives is found.

All of them worked together with the Germans and now they are being disposed of.

May 31 1942

Along with the rumours that Gancwajch has been detained and shot there are others that claim that he has already established himself far from here in Switzerland.

Sign at the entrance to the "Thirteen" Offices

June 7 1942

This week the Germans arrested Zachariasz’ only daughter who is aged 18. They have been looking for him quite a while, along with Gancwajch, Sternfeld and Zelman. She is in Pawiak.


August 16 1942

According to certain reports, Czerniakow’s place here with us – a la Rumkowski will be inherited by Gancwajch, the man they had been hunting and trying to kill. He is outside the ghetto at the moment.

August 18 1942

I have heard talk again about the new rise of Gancwajch. He will take over Lichtenbaum ‘s place and become commissar of the Jewish community.

13 Lezno Street  (Circa 2006)

August 25 1942

There were telephone calls from Radomsko yesterday and today with the news that everything is quiet there, Gancwajch is there.


After the destruction the bulk of the "13 membership, Gancwajch was spotted outside the ghetto on the Aryan side of Warsaw. Here he pretended to be part of the Jewish underground hunting Nazi sympathetic Poles.

Gancwajch was sentenced to death by the Jewish underground orgazniation ZOB but they were never able to catch him. His fate is shrouded in mystery, but some sources claim he was killed in the Pawiak prison, during April 1942 with his wife and child after being arrested in the Aryan part of the city, but it is unlikely that this date is true, given the references in some accounts.


Dawid Moryc Apfelbaum

Dawid Moryc Apfelbaum (some sources give Mieczys?aw or Mordechaj as his second name, and Appelbaum as his surname), nom de guerre "Kowal" ("Blacksmith") (?-4/28/1943) was an officer in the Polish Army and a commander of the Jewish Military Union (?ydowski Zwi?zek Wojskowy, ?ZW), during the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising (See Dawid Wdowi?ski.) In 1939 Apfelbaum was a Lieutenant in the Polish Army. During the German invasion of Poland he fought in the defence of the Polish capital Warsaw.

After Poland's defeat together with many other Jews in Polish Army as well as Polish-Jewish political leaders he founded the ?ZW. In structures of the organization, Apfelbaum was the chief of the department of communication with Korpus Bezpiecze?stwa and Armia Krajowaon "Aryan" site of Warsaw. Together with Pawe? Frenkiel he was also a leader of the war department in ?ZW. In the mean time, Armia Krajowa secured his promotion to Captain from the Polish government in exile.

During the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising Captain Apfelbaum was commander of a squad who took part in the heavy fighting in defense of the Muranowski Square.  He was killed in the first days of uprising.

After his death command of AK promoted him to the rank of Major in the Polish Army. In 2004, the mayor of Warsaw Lech Kaczy?ski had a square named for Apfelbaum in the city's Wola district.

Yitzhak Gitterman

Yitzhak Gitterman (1889-1943) was a director of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) in Poland, and a member of the underground Jewish Combat Organization.

Gitterman was born in HoronstopolUkraineRussian Empire and began a career of supporting refugees and other victims of persecution during World War I. In 1921, he was appointed director of the JDC in Poland. He took part in the rehabilitation of the Jewish population and the establishment of welfare institutions.

With the German invasion of Poland in 1939, Gitterman left Warsaw for Vilna, where he rapidly set up operations to aid the refugee community. In December 1939, Gitterman left Lithuania for Sweden to appeal for outside help for Jews in occupied Poland. The Germans stopped his ship in the Baltic Sea and arrested all Polish nationals of military age. Gitterman was interned in a prisoner-of-war camp and returned to Warsaw in April 1940.

Gitterman continued his activities in support of Jewish self-help in Warsaw even after funding from the JDC ceased. He was actively involved in operations of the ghetto underground, including clandestine efforts to document the ghetto experience (code-named Oneg Shabbat). As reports reached the ghetto of the mass murder of Jews in Poland, Gitterman helped raise funds to purchase weapons for the Jewish Fighting Organization in the Warsaw Ghetto.

Yitzhak Gitterman was killed on January 18, 1943, while taking part in the resistance during the first day of the second major wave of deportations from the Warsaw Ghetto.

  • 1889-1943

Itzhak Katzenelson


Itzhak Katzenelson (Hebrew: ???? ???????‎, Yiddish: (???? ????(?)???????(???; also transcribed Icchak-Lejb KacenelsonJizchak KatzenelsonYitzhok Katznelson) (1 July 1886, Karelichy – 1 May 1944, Auschwitz) was a Jewish teacher, poet and dramatist. He was born in 1886 in Karelichy near Minsk, and was murdered May 1, 1944 in Auschwitz.

Soon after his birth Katzenelson's family moved to ?ód?Poland, where he grew up. He worked as a teacher, founding a school, and as a dramatist in both Yiddish and Hebrew, starting a theatre group which toured Poland and Lithuania. Following the German invasion of Poland in 1939 he and his family fled to Warsaw, where they got trapped in the Ghetto. There he ran an underground school for Jewish children. His wife and two of his sons were deported to the Treblinka extermination camp and murdered there.

Katzenelson participated in the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising starting on April 18, 1943. To save his life, friends supplied him with forged Honduran passports. He managed to leave the ghetto but later surrendered to theHotel Polski. He was deported to a detention camp in VittelFrance, where the Nazis held American and British citizens and nationals of other Allied and neutral countries, for possible later prisoner exchange.

In Vittel, Katzenelson wrote Dos lid funem oysgehargetn yidishn folk (Yiddish: "Song of the Murdered Jewish People"). He put the manuscript in bottles and buried them under a tree, from where it was recovered after the war. A copy was sewn into the handle of a suitcase and later taken to Israel.

In late April 1944, Itzhak Katzenelson and his son Zvi were sent on a transport to the Auschwitz concentration camp, where they were murdered on May 1, 1944.

The Ghetto Fighters' House Holocaust and Jewish Resistance Heritage Museum in Israel, is named in his memory. "The Song of the Murdered Jewish People" has been translated into numerous languages and published as an individual volume.


  • 1 July 1886~1 May 1944

Simon Pullman

Simon Pullman (15 February 1890, Warsaw – August 1942, Treblinka) was a violinist,conductormusic teacher and founder and Director of the Pullman Ensemble and Orchestra, and a seminal figure in the evolution of chamber music performance.

Born in Warsaw, he was a nephew of the famous Yiddish actress Esther Rachel Kaminska and cousin of Ida Kaminska and Josef Kaminsky. He studied with Leopold von Auer at the St. Petersburg Conservatory (1905-1909) where he received his diploma.

1913 he continued his studies with Martin Pierre Marsick at the Conservatoire de Paris. Back in Warsaw, he founded and led a chamber orchestra specialised on music of the Vienna Classic (1915 to 1920). In the 1920’s and 30’s he taught violinviola, and chamber music at the New Vienna Conservatory(Neues Wiener Konservatorium), where he coached several groups including the Galimir String Quartet (led by Felix Galimir). 

In 1930 he founded the Pullman Ensemble, consisting of 17 string players (4 string quartets with a double-bass), of which the specialty was their performance of Beethoven’s Große Fuge Op. 133 and String Quartet in C# minor Op. 131. Later, 10 windplayers were added to form the Pullman Orchestra, which performed regularly in Vienna and throughout Europe until 1938, when Pullman was able to escape to Paris.

According to his students and colleagues, Pullman was a visionary musician; his desire for a kind of revelatory ensemble playing led him to make use of the widest possible range of string tone, to demand a perfect legato, and to search out highly unorthodox fingerings to match his conceptions of phrasing. Rehearsals were intense and long — however, they functioned as rolling all-day affairs where members came and went as their schedules permitted. Through his pupils Felix Galimir,Richard Goldner, and others, his ideas influenced the training of generations of chamber music performers in the U. S.Australia (Musica Viva Australia), and elsewhere.

In August 1939, he visited WarsawPoland, in an attempt to sell a house belonging to his wife, and was trapped there by the German invasion. Imprisoned in the Warsaw Ghetto, he directed (beneath the orchestra founders Marian Neuteich and Adam Furmanski) the Warsaw Ghetto Symphony Orchestra, which included among notable musicians, Ludwik Holcman. The band performed frequently from 1940-1942. Pullman was transported to Treblinka extermination camp in early August 1942, and like him all of the members of the orchestra were presumed to have been killed

  • 15 February 1890, Warsaw – August 1942

Emanuel Ringelblum

Emanuel Ringelblum 

(November 21, 1900 – March 7, 1944)

Was a Polish-Jewish historian, politician and social worker, known for his Notes from the Warsaw GhettoNotes on the Refugees in Zb?szyn chronicling the deportation of Jews from the town of Zb?szy?, and the so-called Ringelblum's Archives of the Warsaw Ghetto.

During the war Ringelblum and his family were resettled to the Warsaw Ghetto. There he led a secret operation code-named Oyneg Shabbos(Yiddish for "Sabbath delight"). Together with numerous other Jewish writers, scientists and ordinary people, Ringelblum collected diaries, documents, commissioned papers, and preserved the posters and decrees that comprised the memory of the doomed community.

Among approximately 25,000 sheets preserved there are also detailed descriptions of destruction of ghettos in other parts of occupied Poland, the Treblinka extermination campChe?mno extermination camp and a number of reports made by scientists conducting research on the effects of famine in the ghettos.

He was also one of the most active members of ?ydowska Samopomoc Spo?eczna (Polish for Jewish Social Aid), an organisation established to help the starving people of the Warsaw Ghetto. On the eve of the ghetto's destruction in the spring of 1943, when all seemed lost, the archive was placed in three milk cans and metal boxes. Parts were buried in the cellars of Warsaw buildings.

Shortly before the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, Ringelblum and his family escaped from the Ghetto and found refuge outside of it. However, on 7 March 1944 their hiding place was discovered by the Gestapo; Ringelblum and his family were executed along with those who hid them.

  • November 21, 1900 – March 7, 1944

Kalonymus Kalman Shapira

Kalonymus Kalman Shapira (or Klonimus Kalmish Szapira)

(1889–3 November 1943),

was the Grand Rabbi of PiasecznoPoland, who authored a number of works and was murdered by the Nazis during the Holocaust.

Rabbi Shapira's only son, his daughter-in-law and his sister-in-law were killed during the Nazi aerial bombing of Warsaw in September, 1939. After the invasion of Poland, Rabbi Shapira was interned with a few of his hasidim in the Warsaw Ghetto, where he ran a secret synagogue.

He invested enormous efforts in maintaining Jewish life in the ghetto, including arranging for mikveh immersions and kosher marriages. Rabbi Shapira was able to survive in the ghetto until its liquidation, avoiding the great deportations to Treblinka in the summer of 1942, because of the support of the Judenrat. Like other notables, he was given work at Schultz’s shoe factory—a path to ongoing survival.

Rabbi Shapira is well known because of a book he wrote while in the ghetto. The book, which is a compilation of weekly sermons to his students, contends with complex questions of faith in the face of the mounting suffering of the Jews in the ghetto.

When it became apparent to Rabbi Shapira that the end of the ghetto and all its inhabitants was near, he buried the book in a canister. This canister was found by a construction worker after the end of the war. The book was published in Israel in 1960 under the title Esh Kodesh

After the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising was crushed in 1943, Rabbi Shapira was taken to the Trawniki work camp near Lublin. Although offered the opportunity to escape from the concentration camp, he apparently refused. Following the Jewish uprising in the Treblinka death camp (August 2, 1943) and in Sobibor extermination camp (October 14, 1943), there was increasing concern among the Nazi authorities that there would be further outbreaks of violence at other concentration camps.

For this reason, Aktion Erntefest (Operation Harvest Festival) was launched. During this operation, carried out on November 3, 1943, all the remaining Jews in Trawniki, included Rabbi Shapira, were shot to death.

  • 1889–3 November 1943

Lidia Zamenhof

Lidia Zamenhof (in Esperanto, sometimes Lidja; 1904–1942) was the youngest daughter ofLudwig Zamenhof, the creator of the international auxiliary languageEsperanto. She was born 29 January 1904 in Warsaw, then in the Russian Empire. She was an active promoter of Esperanto as well as of Homaranismo, a form of religious humanism first defined by her father.

Around 1925 she became a member of the Bahá'í Faith. In late 1937 she went to the United States to teach that religion as well as Esperanto. In December 1938 she returned to Poland, where she continued to teach and translated many Bahá'í writings. In autumn 1942 she was murdered at the Treblinka extermination camp.

Lidia Zamenhof learned Esperanto as a nine year old girl. At the age of fourteen she had already done translations from Polish literature; her first publications appeared several years thereafter. Having completed her university studies in law in 1925, she dedicated herself totally to working for Esperanto. In the same year during the 17th World Congress in 1925 in Geneva she became acquainted with the Bahá'í Faith.

Lidia Zamenhof became secretary of the homaranistic Esperanto-Society Concord in Warsaw and often made arrangements for speakers and courses. Starting at the Vienna World Congress in 1924 she attended every World Congress. (She did not attend the 1938 Universala Kongreso in England, as she was in the United States at the time.) As an instructor of the Cseh method of teaching Esperanto she made many promotional trips and taught many courses in various countries.

She actively coordinated her work with the student Esperanto movement — in the International Student League, in the UEA, in the Cseh Institute, and in the Bahá'í Faith.

Additionally, Lidia Zamenhof wrote for the journal Literatura Mondo (mainly studies on Polish Literature), and also contributed to Pola EsperantistoLa PraktikoHeroldo de Esperanto, and Enciklopedio de Esperanto. Her translation of Quo Vadis by Sienkiewicz was published in 1933 and is very well known.

In 1937 she went to the United States for a long stay. In December 1938 she had to leave the United States as that country's Immigration Service declined to extend her visa for the illegal "paid labor" of teaching Esperanto. After returning to her homeland she travelled around the country teaching Esperanto and the Bahá'í Faith.

Under the German occupation regime of 1939, her home in Warsaw became part of the Warsaw Ghetto. She was arrested under the charge of having gone to the United States to spread anti-Nazi propaganda, but after a few months, she was released and returned to her home city where she and the rest of her family remained confined.

There she endeavored to help others get medicine and food. She was offered help and escape several times by Polish Esperantists but refused in each case. To one Pole, well-known Esperantist Jozef Arszennik, who had offered her refuge on several occasions, she explained, "you and your family could lose your lives, because whoever hides a Jew perishes along with the Jew who is discovered."

 To another, her explanation was contained in her last known letter: "Do not think of putting yourself in danger; I know that I must die but I feel it is my duty to stay with my people. God grant that out of our sufferings a better world may emerge. I believe in God. I am a Bahá'í and will die a Bahá'í. Everything is in His hands." 

In the end she was swept up in the mass transport to the extermination camp in Treblinka, where she was eventually killed sometime after the summer of 1942.

In her memory and honor, a meeting was held in 1995 at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C. The meeting called attention to Esperantists' efforts to save persecuted Jews during World War 11

  • 1904–1942

Nathalie Zand

Natalia Zylberlast-Zand (sometimes Nathalie Zand)

(born. 1883 or 27 March 1884 in Warsaw - died 23 or 24 September 1942 ) was a Polish Jewish neurologist.

She was the daughter of David and Emilia Zylberlasta of Batawiów.

Zand conducted research and was a regular contributor to French medical journals. She worked closely with Edward Flatau, considered the founder of modern neurology. In 1930, she published her book Les plexus choroïdes: Anatomie, physiologie, pathologie on the choroid plexuses. Before World War II she worked at the Jewish Hospital in Czyste in Warsaw. During the war she was imprisoned in the Warsaw ghetto , where she continued to work as a doctor. On the night of 23 to 24 September 1942, she was deported to Pawiak prison , where she was probably executed.

  • Warsaw
  • 27 March 1884~24 September 1942

Icchak Cukierman~Survivor

Icchak Cukierman

 (December 13, 1915, Vilnius – June 17, 1981, Lohamey ha-Geta'ot,Israel]]),

also known by his nom de guerre "Antek", or by the anglicised spelling Yitzhak Zuckerman, was one of the leaders of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising during World War II.

Cukierman was born in VilniusLithuania (then part of the Russian Empire) into a Jewishfamily. As a young man he embraced the concepts of socialism and Zionism.

After the German and Soviet invasion of Poland in 1939 he was in the area overrun by theRed Army and initially stayed in the Soviet zone of occupation, where he took active part in creation of various Jewish underground socialist organisations. In the spring of 1940 he moved to Warsaw, where he became a leader of the leaders of the Dror Hechaluc youth movement, along with his future wife Zivia Lubetkin.

In 1941 he became the deputy commander of the ?OB resistance organisation. In this capacity, he served mainly as the envoy between the commander of ?OB and the commanders of the Polish resistance organizations of Armia Krajowa and Armia Ludowa. On December 22, 1942, he and two accomplices attacked a café in Kraków that was being used by the SS and Gestapo. Cukierman was wounded and narrowly escaped, and his two comrades were tracked down and killed.

In 1943, he was working on the "Aryan" side of Warsaw to procure guns and ammunition when the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising erupted. Unable to enter the ghetto to join his comrades in battle, he nonetheless proved a crucial link between resistance forces within the ghetto and theHome Army on the "Aryan" side.

Along with Simcha "Kazik" Rotem, he organized the escape of the surviving ZOB fighters through the sewers to safety. During the later Warsaw Uprising of 1944, he led a small troop of 322 survivors of the Ghetto Uprising as they fought the Germans in the ranks of the Armia Ludowa.

After the war he worked as part of the Berihah network, whose operatives smuggled Jewish refugees out of Eastern and Central Europe toMandate Palestine. In 1947 he himself made that journey, settling in what would soon be Israel. There he and his wife Zivia, along with other veterans of the ghetto undergrounds and former partisans, were among the founding members of Kibbutz Lohamey ha-Geta'ot and the Ghetto Fighters' House (GFH) museum located on its grounds, commemorating those who struggled against the Nazis. GFH has a study center named for Zivia and Yitzhak Zuckerman.

In 1961 he appeared as a witness at the trial of Nazi war criminal Adolf Eichmann in Israel. He died in 1981, in the kibbutz he had founded.

A record of a lengthy interview he gave in 1976 was expanded into the book Sheva ha-Shanim ha-Hen: 1939-1946 [Hebrew: Those Seven Years] published in Israel in 1991, later translated into English and published as A Surplus of Memory: Chronicle of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising.

His granddaughter Roni Zuckerman became the Israeli Air Force's first female fighter pilot.

Icchak Cukierman testifies for the prosecution during the trial of Adolf Eichmann

  • December 13, 1915~ June 17, 1981

Zivia Lubetkin

Zivia Lubetkin (PolishCywia Lubetkin IPA: [?t?s?vja lu?b?tk?in]Hebrew: ???? ???????‎, nom de guerreCelina; 1914–1976) was one of the leaders of the Jewish underground in Nazi-occupied Warsaw and the only woman on the High Command of the resistance group ?ydowska Organizacja Bojowa (?OB).


In 1942, Lubetkin helped found the left-wing Zionist Anti-Fascist Bloc. She also, as one of the founders of the ?OB, served on the Warsaw Jewish community's political council, the Jewish National Committee (?ydowska Komitet Narodowy; ?KN), and also served on the Coordinating Committee, an umbrella organization comprising the ?KN and the non-Zionist General Jewish Labour Bund (Bund), that sponsored the ?OB. During her years of underground activities, the name "Cywia" became the code word for Poland in letters sent by various resistance groups both within and outside of the Warsaw Ghetto.

She was one of the leaders of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising and one of only 34 fighters to survive the war. After leading her group of surviving fighters through the sewers of Warsaw with the aid of Simcha "Kazik"Rotem in the final days of the ghetto uprising (on May 10, 1943), she continued her resistance activities in the rest of Warsaw outside the ghetto. She took part in the Polish Warsaw Uprising in 1944.

Postwar life

Following the Second World War, Lubetkin was active in the Holocaust survivors community in Europe, and helped organize the Beriha, an organization staffed by operatives who helped Eastern and Central European Jews cross borders en route to Mandate Palestine by illegal immigration channels. She herself immigrated to Mandate Palestine in 1946.

She married Yitzhak Zuckerman, the ?OB commander, and they, along with other surviving ghetto fighters and partisans founded Kibbutz Lohamey ha-Geta'ot and the Ghetto Fighters' House museum located on its grounds. In 1961, she testified at the trial of captured Nazi war criminal Adolf Eichmann.

She died in 1976. Her granddaughter, Roni Zuckerman, became the Israeli Air Force's first female fighter pilot in 2001.

  • 1914–1976

Simcha Rotem

Simcha Rotem (WarsawPoland1924 –) born Szymon Rathajzer, also known as Kazik (his nom de guerre as a member of the Jewish underground in Warsaw), served as the head courier of the Jewish Fighting Organization (ZOB), which planned and executed the Warsaw ghetto uprising against the Nazis.

The Warsaw ghetto

In 1942 he joined the ZOB. Because of his non-Jewish "Aryan" appearance and unaccented Polish, Rotem became particularly useful as a courier for the Warsaw Ghetto fighters. The nickname "Kazik" - an abbreviation of a Polish name "Kazimierz" (Casimir) - was given him during a ZOB mission, because of his Aryan look.

The Warsaw ghetto uprising and aftermath

As a ZOB member, Kazik took part in the Warsaw ghetto uprising. He became the head courier, reporting directly to the ZOB commander,Yitzhak Zuckerman. When it became apparent that the Germans would prevail, he was sent via a secret passageway to the "Aryan" side of Warsaw where he met with Zuckerman to arrange an escape for the fighters. However, the passageway was discovered by the Nazis. Unable to return, he and Zuckerman were trapped on the Aryan side while the fighting raged and the ghetto burned.

Desperate to reach his comrades, Rotem made several attempts to enter the ghetto through the sewers before finally succeeding. There he encountered Zivia Lubetkin, one of the last surviving leaders of the ghetto uprising, and he led her with her team of approximately 80 fighters through the sewers to the "Aryan" side and then to the forests outside of the city.

Throughout the rest of the war he continued his underground activities with the resistance, in particular helping to care for the several thousand Jews, who still remained in Warsaw in hiding. In August 1944, he took part in the Polish Warsaw Uprising.


W?adys?aw Bartoszewski

W?adys?aw Bartoszewski [vwa?d?swaf bart????fsk?i] 

 (born February 19, 1922 inWarsaw) is a Polish politician, social activistjournalistwriterhistorian, former Auschwitz concentration camp prisoner, World War II Resistance fighter, Polish underground activist, participant of the Warsaw Uprising, twice the Minister of Foreign Affairschevalier of the Order of the White Eagle, and an honorary citizen of Israel.

Bartoszewski studied at Saint Stanis?aw Kostka Secondary School. In 1939 he graduated from The Humanist High School of the Roman Catholic Future Educational Society in Warsaw.

World War II

In September 1939, Bartoszewski took part in the civil defense of Warsaw as a stretcher-bearer. From May 1940, he worked in the first social clinic of the Polish Red Cross in Warsaw. On September 19, 1940, Bartoszewski was detained in the Warsaw district of ?oliborz during a surprise round-up of members of the public (?apanka). From September 22, 1940, he was anAuschwitz concentration camp prisoner (his inmate number was 4427). Due to actions undertaken by the Polish Red Cross, he was released from Auschwitz on April 8, 1941.

Polish Underground Wladyslaw Bartoszewski on May 21, 2005 at the International Book Fair in WarsawPoland, promoting his Polish language book Moja Jerozolima, mój Izrael (My Jerusalem, my Israel)

After his release from Auschwitz, Bartoszewski contacted the Association of Armed Struggle (Zwi?zek Walki Zbrojnej). In the summer of 1941, he reported on his concentration camp imprisonment to the Information Department of the Information and Propaganda Bureau of the Home Army (Armia Krajowa, or AK, a reformed version of the Association of Armed Struggle and the largest resistance movement in Poland). In summer 1942, he joined the Front for the Rebirth of Poland (Front Odrodzenia Polski) which was a secret, Catholic, social-educational and charity organization founded by Zofia Kossak-Szczucka. From October 1941 until 1944 Bartoszewski studied Polish Studies in the secret Humanist Department of Warsaw University at the time when higher education of Poles was outlawed by the German occupational authorities.

In August 1942, Bartoszewski became a soldier of the Home Army, working as a reporter in the "P" Subdivision of the Information Department of its Information and Propaganda Bureau. His pseudonym “Teofil” was inspired by Teofil Grodzicki, a fictional character from Jan Parandowski’s novel entitled The Sky in Flames. He cooperated with Kazimierz Moczarski in the two-man P-1 report of the "P" subdivision.

From September 1942, Bartoszewski was active on behalf of the Front for the Rebirth of Poland in the Provisional Committee for Aid to Jews and its successor organization, the Council for Aid to Jews (codenamed ?egota).

?egota, a Polish World War II resistance organization whose objective was to help Jews during the Holocaust, operated under the auspices of the Polish Government in Exile through the Delegatura, its presence in Warsaw. Bartoszewski remained a member of ?egota until the Warsaw Uprising. In 1943, he replaced Witold Bie?kowski in the Jewish Department of the Delegatura.

From November 1942 to September 1943, Bartoszewski was an editorial team secretary of the Catholic magazine Prawda (The Truth), the press organ of the Front for the Rebirth of Poland. From fall of 1942 until spring of 1944, Bartoszewski was the editor-in-chief of the Catholic magazine Prawda M?odych (The Youth's Truth), which was also connected with the Front for the Rebirth of Poland and aimed at university and high-school students. In November 1942, Bartoszewski became a vice-manager of a division created in the Department of Internal Affairs of the Delegatura whose remit was to help prisoners of Pawiakprison.

In February 1943, Bartoszewski became a reporter and vice-manager of the Department's Jewish Report. As a part of his activities for ?egota and the Jewish Report, Bartoszewski organized assistance for the participants of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising in April 1943.

Wladyslaw Bartoszewski at the 60th anniversary of the Warsaw Uprising in 2004

On August 1, 1944, Bartoszewski began his participation in the Warsaw Uprising. He was an aide to the commander of radio post “Asma” and editor-in-chief of the magazine The News form the City and The Radio News. On the September 20, by the order of the commandant of the Warsaw District of the AK, General Antoni “Monter” Chru?ciel, Bartoszewski was decorated with the Silver Cross of Merit.

This was the result of a proposal put forward by the chief of the Information and Propaganda Bureau in General Headquarters of the Home Army,Colonel Jan Rzepecki). On October 1, Bartoszewski was appointed Second Lieutenant by the AK commander general Tadeusz “Bór” Komorowski (also due to a proposal by Rzepecki). He received the Cross of Valor order on October 4.

Communist Poland Stalinist period

Bartoszewski left Warsaw on October 7, 1944. He continued his underground activity in the Information and Propaganda Bureau of the Home Army at its General Headquarters in Kraków. From November 1944 to January 1945, he held a position as editorial team secretary forInformation Bulletin.

At the end of February 1945 he returned to Warsaw, where he began his service in the information and propaganda section of NIE resistance movement. From May to August 1945, Bartoszewski was serving in the sixth unit of the Delegatura (he was responsible for information and propaganda) under the supervision of Kazimierz Moczarski). On October 10, 1945, he revealed that he had served in the AK.

In autumn 1945 he started his cooperation with the Institute of National Remembrance at the presidium of the government and the Head Commission of Examination of German Crimes in Poland. His information gathered during the occupation period about the Nazi crimes, the situation in concentration camps and prisons as well as his knowledge concerning the Jewish genocide appeared to be very helpful.

In February 1946 he began his work in the editorial section of Gazeta Ludowa (People’s Gazette), the main press organ of the Polish People's Party (Polskie Stronnictwo Ludowe, PSL). Soon, he joined the PSL, at that time the only influential party in opposition to the communist government. In the articles published in Gazeta Ludowa, he mentioned the outstanding figures of the Polish Underground State (the interview with Stefan Korbo?ski, the report from the funeral of Jan Pieka?kiewicz), and the events connected with the fight for liberation of the country (a series of sketches presenting the Warsaw Uprising entitled Dzie? Walcz?cej Stolicy).

Due to the collaboration with the oppositional PSL, he soon became subject to repressions by the security services. On November 15, 1946, he was falsely accused of being a spy, resulting in him being arrested and held by the Ministry of Public Security of Poland. In December he was transferred to the Mokotów Prison and released on the April 10, 1948, due to the help of Zofia Rudnicka (a former chief of ?egota, then working in the Ministry of Justice). Although he was accepted into the third year of Polish Studies in December 1948, Bartoszewski's arrest in 1949 and the resulting five years' imprisonment rendered him unable to finish his studies.

Bartoszewski was again arrested on December 14, 1949. On May 29, 1952, he was sentenced by the Military District Court for eight years under the accusation of being a spy. In April 1954, he was moved to the prison in Rawicz and in June to the prison in Racibórz. He was released in August 1954 on a year parole due to his bad health condition. On March 2, 1955, during the wave of de-stalinization, Bartoszewski was informed he was wrongly sentenced.

]Literary, academic and journalistic activity

After Bartoszewski was found wrongly sentenced and released from prison, he returned to his journalistic activity. Since August 1955 he had been the editor-in-chief of specialist publishing houses of the Polish Librarians Association.

Since July 1956 he had been publishing his articles in Stolica weekly (since January 1957 he had been a member of an editorial section and from summer of 1958 to December 1960 he was holding the position of the secretary of the editorial section). In August 1957, he started his cooperation with Tygodnik Powszechny(Universal Weekly). Since July 1982 he had been the member of the editorial section.

In November 1958, he was again accepted by the Linguistic Department of Warsaw University, in extramural mode. He submitted his master’s thesis written under the supervision of professor Julian Krzy?anowski. However, by decision of the vice-chancellor, he was expelled from the university in October 1962.

On April 18, 1963, he was decorated with the Polonia Restituta medal for his help to the Jews during the war. The proposal was put forward by the Jewish Historical Institute). Between September and November 1963 he was residing in Israel at the invitation of the Yad VashemInstitute. In the name of the Council for Aid to Jews, he received the diploma of the Righteous Among the Nations (in 1966, he also received the medal of the Righteous Among the Nations).

From November to December 1963, Bartoszewski spent in Austria, where he entered into communication with Austrian intellectual and political societies. In November 1963, he begun his cooperation with Radio Free Europe. In the next years he was traveling to the Federal Republic of GermanyGreat BritainItalyIsrael and the United States, where he got in touch mainly with some of the representatives of Polish emigration (among others with Jan Nowak-Jeziora?skiJan KarskiCzes?aw Mi?osz and Gustaw Herling-Grudzi?ski).

Polish PEN Club, Warsaw 2006

In the years 1969-1973, he served as the chairman of the Warsaw Department of the Society of Book Lovers (Towarzystwo Przyjació? Ksi??ki) and in December 1969 he was appointed a member of the board of the Polish PEN. In the years 1972-1983, he served as the chief secretary of the Polish PEN. In 1973-1982 and again in 1984-1985 he was lecturing as a senior lecturer (the counterpart of vice-professor).

His lectures concerned modern history (with the special emphasis on the war and occupation) in the Institute of Modern History on the Humanistic Science Department of KUL (Catholic University of Lublin). In December 1981, he was an active participant in the First Polish Culture Congress, which was interrupted by the enforcement of martial law in Poland.

In 1983-1984 and 1986-1988 he was lecturing at the Institute of Political Science Faculty of Social Sciences at the Ludwig-Maximilian University in Munich (as well as the Media Science Institute at the same university in the years 1989-1990). He obtained the visiting professor’s title by theBavarian government. In 1984, he received an honorary doctorate from Hebrew College inBaltimore (USA) as well as a certificate of the recognition from the American Jewish Committee inNew York.

Since May 1984 Bartoszewski has been the full member of the Józef Pi?sudski Institute of America. Since 1986 he served as one of the deputy-chairmen at the Institute of Polish-Jewish Studies at the University of Oxford. In the academic year 1985 he was lecturing at the Faculty of History and Social Sciences at the Catholic University of Eichstätt-Ingolstadt in the Federal Republic of Germany.

From 1988-1989, he was lecturing at the Institute of Political Science in the Department of Philosophy and Social Sciences at the University of Augsburg. In 1992 he was appointed a member of the Independent Commission of Experts (ICE) 1992-2002 which was set up by the Swiss parliament to examine the refugee policy of the Switzerland during World War II as well as economic and financial relationships between Switzerland and Nazi Germany.

W?adys?aw Bartoszewski took part in many international conferences and seminars dedicated to the issues of World War II, the Jewish genocide, Polish-German and Polish-Jewish relationships as well as the role of Polish intellectualists in politics. He delivered a number of lectures and reports on the various international forums.

Opposition activity

In 1970, due to his opposition activity and various relations in Western countries, he was forbidden to publish his works in Poland (until autumn 1974). In addition, he fell victim to other repressions such as searches, denials of passport and distributing forgeries).

In 1974, he was engaged in the activity that focused on reprieving the convicted members of the Ruch organization (among others Stefan Niesio?owskiand Andrzej Czuma). In January 1976, as one of the first, Bartoszewski signed the letter of intellectualists protesting against the introduction of changes into the constitution of the People's Republic of Poland. Since 1978 he has taken part in establishing the Society for Educational Courses and he had been lecturing at the "Flying University".

W?adys?aw Bartoszewski and Lech Wa??sa, Warsaw 2006

On August 21, 1980, he signed the intellectuals’ letter to the protesting workers from the Polish coast. During 1980/1981 he was a member of Solidarity. After announcing martial law on December 13, 1981, he was a detainee in Bia?o??ka prison and later in Internment Center in Jaworze at Drawsko Pomorskie Military Training Area. He was released on April 28, 1982 due to the support from intellectual communities from Poland and from abroad.

In 1981, Edward Bernard Raczy?ski, the President of Poland in exile, proposed Bartoszewski as his successor so Bartoszewski could become President in exile after his resignation. Raczy?ski, according to his own words, wanted someone from the country and not the emigre circles as well as with strong ties to the opposition in Poland. Bartoszewski, however, graciously refused. In 1987 Raczy?ski final successor, Kazimierz Sabbat, also proposed Batoszewski a nomination, but he declined. Interestingly, had he accepted the position, he would have succeeded Sabbat after his sudden death in 1989.

Third Republic of Poland Diplomatic and politic activity

From September 1990 to March 1995, Bartoszewski held the position of Ambassador of the Polish Republic to Austria. In 1995, he was theMinister of Foreign Affairs in Józef Oleksy’s government. On April 28, 1995, he delivered a speech during the solemn session of Bundestagand Bundesrat on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the ending of World War II as the only foreign speaker. On December 22, 1995, he resigned from his office due to the end of Lech Wa??sa’s presidential term.

Once again, he became a chief of Polish Internal Affairs in June 2000 in Jerzy Buzek’s government. From 1997 to 2001, he was the Senatorof the fourth term and the chairperson in the Office for International Affairs and European Integration. As a Senior Speaker he chaired the inaugural session of the Senate of the Republic of Poland.

Since November 21, 2007, W?adys?aw Bartoszewski has been the Secretary of State in the Office of the Chairman of the Council of Ministers(Prime Minister Donald Tusk) and plenipotentiary for international affairs.

Social and academic activity

Since June 1990, he has been chairperson of the International Council of the National Auschwitz Museum. In 1991-1995, he was the member of the National Council for Polish-Jewish Relations on the presidential office. Since March 1995, he has been the deputy chairman of the Polish PEN. In 1996, he received an honorary doctorate of the University of Wroc?aw.

Since June 2001 Bartoszewski has been the leader of the Council for the Protection of Memory of Combat and Martyrdom. On 27 January 2005, on the occasion of the 60th anniversary of the liberation of the concentration camp Auschwitz-Birkenau, he delivered speeches as the representative of the Polish inmates of concentration camps. For many years he has been a strong supporter of the Polish-Jewish and Polish-German reconciliation. Through his journalistic and academic activity he has contributed to retaining the memory of the Polish Underground State, the Warsaw Uprising and the crimes of totalitarism.

From January 26 to June 29, 2006, he was the leader of the board of LOT Polish Airlines. He is the member of the Polish Writers' Association.

He was also chairperson of the Polish Institute of International Affairs in Warsaw, but resigned from the position on August 29, 2006. Reason was that there was no reaction from the then Minister of the Foreign Affairs Anna Fotyga and accusations formulated by deputy Minister of Defense Antoni Macierewicz (who alleged that most of hitherto Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the Third Republic of Poland were former agents of the Soviet special services).

His academic career (or more precisely - scholarly credentials) are subject to much controversy (see below), however Bartoszewski (despite his lack of formal academic qualifications) taught graduate level history courses at several accredited and prestigious universities including the renown 'KUL' John Paul II Catholic University of Lublin which lists W.B. as a reader in modern history (Chair of Polish Post-War History) in the Faculty of Humanities from 1973 to 1985 and awarded him an honorary doctorate in 2008.

Since July 2010 Bartoszewski is member of the International Council of the Austrian Service Abroad.

  • February 19, 1922

Irena Sendler

Irena Sendler (née Krzy?anowska, commonly referred to as Irena Sendlerowa in Poland; 15 February 1910 – 12 May 2008)

Was a Polish Catholic social worker who served in thePolish Underground and the ?egota resistance organization in German-occupied Warsaw during World War II. Assisted by some two dozen other ?egota members, Sendler saved 2,500 Jewishchildren by smuggling them out of the Warsaw Ghetto, providing them with false documents, and sheltering them in individual and group children's homes outside the Ghetto.

During the German occupation of Poland, Sendler lived in Warsaw (prior to that, she had lived in Otwock and Tarczyn while working for urban Social Welfare departments). As early as 1939, when the Germans invaded Poland, she began aiding Jews.

She and her helpers created over 3,000 false documents to help Jewish families, prior to joining the organized ?egota resistance and the children's division. Helping Jews was very risky—in German-occupied Poland, all household members risked death if they were found to be hiding Jews, a more severe punishment than in other occupied European countries.

Nazi German poster in German and Polish (Warsaw, 1942) threatening death to any Pole who aided Jews Jewish children in the Warsaw Ghetto

In August 1943, ?egota (the Council to Aid Jews) nominated her (by her cover name Jolanta to head its children's section. As an employee of the Social Welfare Department, she had a special permit to enter the Warsaw Ghetto to check for signs of typhus, something the Nazis feared would spread beyond the Ghetto. During these visits, she wore a Star of Davidas a sign of solidarity with the Jewish people and so as not to call attention to herself.

She cooperated with others in Warsaw's Municipal Social Services department, and the RGO (Central Welfare Council), a Polish relief organization that was tolerated under German supervision. She and her co-workers organized the smuggling of Jewish children out of the Ghetto.

Under the pretext of conducting inspections of sanitary conditions during a typhus outbreak, Sendler and her co-workers visited the Ghetto and smuggled out babies and small children in ambulances and trams, sometimes disguising them as packages. She also used the old courthouse at the edge of the Warsaw Ghetto (still standing) as one of the main routes for smuggling out children.

The children were placed with Polish families, the Warsaw orphanage of the Sisters of the Family of Mary, or Roman Catholic convents such as the Little Sister Servants of the Blessed Virgin Mary Conceived Immaculate at Turkowice and Chotomów. Sendler cooperated very closely withsocial worker and catholic nun, mother provincial of Franciscan Sisters of the Family of Mary - Matylda Getter.

She rescued between 250-550 Jewish children in different education and care facilities for children  in AninBia?o??kaChotomówMi?dzylesieP?udySejnyVilniusand others. Some children were smuggled to priests in parish rectories. She and her co-workers buried lists of the hidden children in jars in order to keep track of their original and new identities. ?egota assured the children that, when the war was over, they would be returned to Jewish relatives.

In 1943, Sendler was arrested by the Gestapo, severely tortured, and sentenced to death. ?egota saved her by bribing German guards on the way to her execution. She was listed on public bulletin boards as among those executed. For the remainder of the war, she lived in hiding, but continued her work for the Jewish children.

After the war, she and her co-workers gathered together all of their records with the names and locations of the hidden Jewish children and gave them to their Zegota colleague Adolf Berman and his employees at the Central Committee of Polish Jews. However, almost all of their parents had been killed at the Treblinka extermination camp or had otherwise gone missing.


"Every child saved with my help is the justification of my existence on this Earth, and not a title to glory."

Letter to the Polish Parliament Irena Sendler in 2005

After the war and the Soviet takeover of Poland, Irena Sendler was persecuted by the communist Polish state authorities for her relations with the Polish government in exile and with the Home Army. During this period she miscarried her second child.

Sendler with some people she saved as children, Warsaw, 2005

In 1965, Sendler was recognized by Yad Vashem as one of theRighteous among the Nations. She also was awarded the Commander's Cross by the Israeli Institute. Only in that year did the Polish communist government allow her to travel abroad, to receive the award in Israel.

In 2003, Pope John Paul II sent Sendler a personal letter praising her wartime efforts. On 10 October 2003 she received the Order of the White Eagle, Poland's highest civilian decoration, and the Jan Karski Award "For Courage and Heart," given by the American Center of Polish Culture in Washington, D.C.. She was also awarded the Commander's Cross with Star of the Order of Polonia Restituta (November 7, 2001).

On 14 March 2007, Sendler was honored by Poland's Senate. At age 97, she was unable to leave her nursing home to receive the honor, but she sent a statement through El?bieta Ficowska, whom Sendler had helped to save as an infant. Polish President Lech Kaczy?ski stated she "can justly be nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize" (though nominations are supposed to be kept secret). Instead, the 2007 Nobel went to Al Gore for his work related to Global Warming. On 11 April 2007, she received the Order of the Smile as the oldest recipient of the award.

In May 2009, Irena Sendler was posthumously granted the Audrey Hepburn Humanitarian Award. The award, named in honor of the late actress and UNICEF ambassador, is presented to persons and organizations recognised for helping children. In its citation, the Audrey Hepburn Foundation recalled Irena Sendler's heroic efforts that saved 2,500 Jewish children during the German occupation of Poland in World War II.

Sendler was the last survivor of the Children's Section of the ?egota Council to Assist Jews, which she had headed from August 1943 until the end of the war.

Irena Sendler died in Warsaw on May 12, 2008.

  • February 1910 – 12 May 2008

Jürgen Stroop

Jürgen Stroop,

(born Josef Stroop, September 26, 1895 in DetmoldGermany — died March 6, 1952 in WarsawPoland), was a high-ranking Nazi Party andGestapo official during World War II. In 1952, he was extradited to Poland, convicted of war crimes, and hanged.

Stroop joined the SS and the NSDAP in 1932. His career took off during the election campaign of the same year. In 1933, he was appointed leader of the state auxiliary police. One year later, he was promoted from the rank of SS-Oberscharführer to the rank of Hauptsturmführer. Subsequently he worked for the SS administration in Münster and Hamburg. In the fall (autumn) of 1938, he was promoted again, this time to the rank of SS-Standartenführer (Colonel).

Stroop served in the Sudetenland. After the invasion of Poland, he served as commander of the SS-section in Gnesen (Gniezno). During the occupation of Poland, Stroop was transferred to Poznan as head of Selbstschutz, the notorious "self-defense" formation of the local ethnic Germans.

In May 1941, Stroop changed his name from Josef to Jürgen for ideological reasons and in honor of his deceased son. From July 7 to September 15, 1941, Stroop served in combat on the eastern front with the infantry regiment of the 3rd SS Division Totenkopf. He was awarded a Clasp to the Iron Cross 2nd Class and an Infantry Assault Badge in Bronze.

On 16 September 1942, he was promoted to SS-Brigadeführer and assigned as an Inspector of the SiPo and SD of the Higher SS and Police Leader for Russia South. In this position Stroop worked to help secure a key logistical route for German forces on the Eastern Front. Beginning in October 1942, Stroop commanded an SS garrison at Kherson, before becoming the SS and Police Leader for Lemberg (Lviv) in February 1943.

The Warsaw Ghetto, transfer to Greece and return to Germany Jürgen Stroop (center, in field cap) with his men in the burning Warsaw Ghetto, 1943

Stroop's most historically prominent role was the suppression of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, an action which cost the lives of over 50,000 people. He was sent to Warsaw on April 17, 1943 byHeinrich Himmler, as a replacement for SS-Oberführer Ferdinand von Sammern-Frankenegg, who was relieved of duty. Stroop took over from Sammern following the latter's failure at the onset of the uprising:

I had two battalions of Waffen-SS, one hundred army men, units of Order Police, and seventy-five to a hundred Security Police people. The Security Police had been active in the Warsaw ghetto for some time, and during this program it was their function to accompany SS units in groups of six or eight, as guides and experts in ghetto matters.
The Stroop Report

Stroop had recently been involved in operations againstSoviet partisans in Ukraine and was familiar with the latest German counter-insurgency tactics. He ordered the entire ghetto to be burned down systematically and blown up building by building, and all of Warsaw's Jews to be killed or deported to extermination camps.

After the uprising was suppressed, he prepared a detailed record of the operation, a 75-page report, bound in black leather and included copies of allcommuniqués sent to SS Police Leader East Friedrich-Wilhelm Kruger and photographs. Originally titled "The Jewish Quarter of Warsaw is no more!", it is commonly referred to as "The Stroop Report" and would later be used as evidence at the Nuremberg Trials.

Stroop then formally assumed the position of SS and Police Leader of Warsaw. Kruger presented an Iron Cross 1st Class to him on 18 June 1943 for the Warsaw Ghetto "action" at a gala reception in Warsaw’sLazienki Park.

Stroop was subsequently named the Higher SS and Police Leader in Greece on September 8, 1943. The local civilian administration found his methods and behaviour unacceptable and withdrew cooperation, forbidding the local Order Police from having anything to do with him, which made his position untenable. Consequently, he was removed and on November 9 he was appointed Commander of SS-Oberabschnitt Rhein-Westmark (an SS administrative district named for the Rhine and Gau Westmark) in Wiesbaden, serving until the close of the war.

Trials and execution Warsaw Ghetto; 1943 Stroop before a Polish court in 1951

In early May 1945, Stroop was captured by American forcesin the town of Rottau in Bavaria. Wearing the uniform of an infantry officer, he bore false discharge papers made out to aWehrmacht Captain of Reserve Josef Straub. He kept to this story for nearly two months, before admitting to being Jürgen Stroop on July 2.

He was then put on trial by the U.S. Military Tribunal atDachau (Dachau Trials) for the summary executions of Allied airmen (Fliegermorde), shot down over Germany in his field of command. On March 21, 1947, he was sentenced to death by the tribunal. However, that sentence was not carried out; instead, he was extradited for trial in the People's Republic of Poland.

While awaiting trial in Warsaw's Mokotów Prison, Stroop was placed in the same cell withKazimierz Moczarski, an anti-communist political prisoner who had been jailed by the Poland'sMinistry of Public Security. In conversation with Moczarski, Stroop gleefully recalled the destruction of Warsaw's Great Synagogue,

"What a wonderful sight! I called out, Heil Hitler! and pressed the button. A terrific explosion brought flames right up to the clouds. The colors were unbelievable. An unforgettable allegory of the triumph over Jewry."

On July 23, 1951, after a trial lasting three days, a Polish court sentenced Stroop and Franz Konrad to death by hanging. Stroop was hanged on March 6, 1952, outside the Mokotow prison in Warsaw

  • September 26, 1895~March 6, 1952

Otwock & the Zofiowka Sanatorium

A Refuge from Hell 

The Sanitorium in Otwock

Adam Czerniakow the Chairman of the Warsaw Judenrat wrote in his diary, about his stays in the Jewish sanatoriums in Otwock, as a refuge from the hell, that the ghetto had become. .

Otwock is located 27 kilometres East South East from Warsaw and a Jewish community was established in 1880 when a rabbi from Warka, Kalisz called Simcha Bunem established a study house on land rented from two Jews – Blass and Reindorf.

Otwock grew with the opening of the Vistula Railway and when the spa at nearby Naleczow closed it gates for Jews, the spa conditions at Otwock made it a fashionable haven for Jews who needed treatment.

Aleksandra Street was at the heart of the Jewish district – the first synagogue was built there. The majority of Jews lived in wooden houses with verandas and porches. From 1910, a second house of prayer with a ritual bath was situated in Gorna Street.       

In 1895 the first sanatorium for Jews, established by Jozef Przygoda, a medical assistant started to function and this was continued by his son Wladyslaw. Therapeutic resorts in Otwock were run by Jewish associations Marpe from 1907 and Brijus from 1911, Zofiowka on Kochanowskiego Street was founded in 1908 by the Association for Mentally and Neurotically ill Jews. By 1935 Zofiowka had 275 beds and its first chairman was Samuel Goldflam.

In 1911 the Jewish Association against Tuberculosis bought 32 morgues of forest on the slopes of the Meran Dune, Brijus sanatorium was built there and a second Brijus sanatorium for young people suffering from tuberculosis.

Samuel Goldflam

By 1939 Otwock’s population numbered more than 19,000 citizens of which approximately 14,000 were Jews, but then the Germans occupied Poland, and the Jewish population was destined for destruction.

Extracts from the Diary of Adam Czerniakow

July 20 1940

Today at 7 in the morning I gave myself a 24 hour holiday after all these months – I am leaving for Otwock. We are having beautiful weather; at 5am it is 61 degrees F.

An inspection of the Brijus TB Sanatorium and later of Zofiowka

I notice in Zofiowka the woman troublemaker who cost us 100,000 zlotys, adult lunatics and children. One child in a straightjacket to prevent self-injury, the face covered with flies.

Another one is scratching wounds on his head. A female singer in bed executes some operatic arias: she used to perform in Italy. Other women by the piano were playing and singing. I joined them.

Zofiowka Sanitarium in Otwock

Somebody built himself a tombstone in a cemetery with his name carved on it. It is to this address that he would direct his creditors.

August 4 1940


At 1.30 I left for Otwock for a few hours. At the Brijus sanatorium I met for the first time in my life a female veterinarian, Miss Neufeld. A lunatic who fled from Zofiowka was run over by a train and the police have brought in the corpse. By 8 o’clock I am back in Warsaw, a half –hour by car

August 17 1940

At 7 in the morning I depart for Otwock to Brijus. At 9 the wife of a certain Dr Rubinstein came pleading with me to intervene again on behalf of her husband.

At Zofiowka they informed me about the death of one of their patients, an old Jew, “the King of England.” Another who “has black candles inside his body” tried to accost me but I managed to get away from him claiming that I was not the Chairman.  

September 5 1940

In Otwock yesterday, nobody reported for the labour camp. Several persons shot.

September 25 1940

In Otwock the Polish authorities are to take over Brijus. Zofiowka is threatened etc.

December 24 1941

German nursing staff at Otwock

I left by car, in terrible weather, with my wife and Szerynski for Zofiowka. I received a message from Warsaw, according to an edict we must surrender all the furs – both men and women’s.

March 29 1942

In the afternoon Szerynski called from Otwock. Auerswald telephoned him and said that he observed Jews who were moving out of the houses on Stojerska Street taking floors etc with them.

He stated that the Order Service men who were passively standing by would be sent to Treblinka and the Community would pay for the damage.

July 19 1942

Kohn claims that the deportation is to commence tomorrow at 8pm with 3,000 Jews from the Little Ghetto (Sliska Street). He himself and his family slipped away to Otwock. Others did the same.

Stanislaw Adler recalled in his book “In the Warsaw Ghetto” his recollections about Zofiowka in Otwock:

“There were two Jewish sanatoriums at Otwock which were at the disposal of the sick from the ghetto: Brijus for tuberculosis patients and Zofiowka for the acutely mentally ill.

These two institutions were overcrowded and suffocating from a shortage of funds. The management of Zofiowka, therefore set aside one pavilion containing over a dozen rooms for people in need of a rest who could pay high rates, the income of which would help to maintain their indigent patients.

Ruins of Zofiokwa in 2006

Every one of us who had been living in the ghetto for a few months deserved, to a lesser or greater degree, to be sent to Zofiowka, but only the wealthy could afford that oasis of tranquillity.


Before the war, nobody of sound mind would have gone near a mental hospital to find rest but now a stay in Zofiowka became most desirable to many people.


Not even the howling of the mentally ill day and night could disturb their rest, or the fact that the non-violent patients wandered in the gardens and woods and became involved in conversations with the paying guests.

What I describe here comes from what I was told by Ludmila Fiszhaut – Zeldowicz, who spent several days in Zofiowka in the fall of 1941. 

Zofiowka was liquidated on the 19 August 1942 one hundred patients and staff were killed. The Director of the hospital, the well known psychiatrist Dr Stefan Miller committed suicide.

As for the rest of Otwock’s Jewish population 7,000 were deported to the death camp at Treblinka during the 19 -20 August 1942, where they were shared the same fate as the vast majority of those deported to that hell on earth.


Welwel Rzondzinski Born: Kaluszyn, Poland ca. 1903

One of six children, Welwel was born to Jewish parents living in the predominantly Jewish town of Kaluszyn, 35 miles east of Warsaw. His parents were religious, and they spoke Yiddish at home. Welwel's father was a bookkeeper for a large landowner. After Welwel's father died, his mother ran a newspaper kiosk in Kaluszyn. Welwel married when he was in his twenties and moved with his wife Henia to Warsaw.

1933-39: When war broke out three months ago, many Jews left Warsaw in a mass exodus towards the east. They were mostly young and middle-aged men who were afraid that the Germans would deport them as forced labor. I was scared, too, but I couldn't leave Henia and our two children, Miriam and Fiszel. Now the Germans have entered the city, and they are seizing Jews off the street for labor gangs. I try to stay inside as much as possible.

1940-43: The Jewish ghetto, situated in the heart of the Jewish quarter, was sealed off a few weeks ago. Our house on Gesia Street is in the ghetto and so is my grocery store, on Nowolipki Street. Only small quantities of food can legally be brought into the ghetto, so my stocks have shrunk. Most of my customers purchase the basic items that we are allowed on our near-starvation ration of bread, potatoes, and ersatz fat. Those of us who have the means complement our diet with black market goods.

Welwel and his family did not survive the war. They are thought to have been deported to the Treblinka extermination camp in the summer of 1942 or early 1943.

Fela Perznianko Born: Zakroczym, Poland May 12, 1892

Fela was the older of two children born to Jewish parents living in Zakroczym, a town on the Vistula River near Warsaw. Her father was a respected attorney. As a young woman, Fela worked as a hat designer in Warsaw, until she married Moshe Galek when she was in her late 20s. She moved to the nearby town of Sochocin, where her husband owned a pearl-button factory. Fela and Moshe raised four daughters.

1933-39: In 1936 the Galeks moved to Warsaw, attracted by the city's cultural life. When Germany invaded Poland on September 1, 1939, Moshe proposed escaping to Palestine. Although Fela was an avid Zionist, she resisted the idea because she was hesitant to begin a new life someplace else. Warsaw fell to the Germans on September 28, 1939; by December, Fela and her family were already wearing the required armbands that marked them as Jews.

1940-43: The Galeks were forced into the Warsaw ghetto in November 1940. The family lived in a room in a house where several other families lived. Food was scarce, and days were passed sitting in the house, talking. The family survived the mass deportations of 1942, but was seized in the final roundups of April 1943 just before the ghetto was destroyed.

During the roundup, Fela and Moshe were separated from their children, placed in a line with other older adults, and summarily executed.

Ethel Stern Born: Warsaw, Poland 1919

Ethel was born to a Jewish family living in Warsaw. When she was 9, her family moved to the town of Mogielnica, about 40 miles southwest of Warsaw. Ethel's father spent much of his time studying religious texts. His wife managed the family liquor store. Ethel attended public school during the day and was tutored in religious studies in the evening.

1933-39: Ethel had always wanted to be a teacher. At age 14, after attending religious school in Lodz, she began to teach in the town of Kalisz, where her brother lived. There she was introduced by a matchmaker to Zalman Brokman, who first asked his rabbi and then Ethel's father for permission to marry her. In March 1939 they were married. When war began in September, Ethel returned to Mogielnica, six months pregnant.

1940-44: Ethel gave birth to a baby boy in January 1940 in Warsaw. By November, the Jews in Warsaw were confined to a ghetto. Ethel's husband traded gold pieces for food and goods. When mass deportations began in late 1942, those with sewing machines were allowed to remain in a factory to sew military garments, so Ethel's husband bought two machines. Ethel worked at the factory until it was liquidated in 1943.

In May 1943 the garment factory workers were deported to the Trawniki labor camp near Lublin. Ethel was never heard from again.

Abraham Lewent Born: Warsaw, Poland July 27, 1924

Abraham was born to a Jewish family in the Polish capital of Warsaw. His grandfather owned a clothing factory and retail store, which his father managed. Abraham's family lived in a Jewish section of Warsaw and he attended a Jewish school. Warsaw's Jewish community was the largest in Europe, and made up nearly one-third of the population of the city.

1933-39: After the bombardment of Warsaw began on September 8, 1939, my family had little to eat. The stores had been reduced to rubble; we had no water or heat. Hunting for food, I dodged German bombs and stole seven jars of pickles from a nearby pickle factory. For several weeks my family lived on pickles and rice. Because of a lack of water, fires from the bombing raids burned out of control. Relief came when the capital surrendered.

1940-44: By April 1943 I was in the Warsaw ghetto in a walled-off forced-labor area. During the ghetto uprising we could see the flames. We couldn't believe it. To one side I saw whole streets on fire. To the other I saw Poles in Warsaw's non-Jewish section preparing for Easter. When the Nazis liquidated the ghetto after the uprising, my father and I were among those marched out for deportation. Poles stood on the sidewalk, eyeing the suitcases we carried, saying: "You're going to your death, after all. Leave it for us."

Abraham was deported to Majdanek and then to seven other Nazi camps, including Buchenwald. He was liberated in transit to the Dachau camp on April 30, 1945.

Warsaw Ghetto Heroes

Warsaw Ghetto Heroes




Nathan Rappaport Memorial to Heroes of Warsaw Ghetto


The date that the Nazis chose to destroy the Warsaw Ghetto was on Passover, April 19, 1943. The leader of the Jewish resistance movement, Mordechai Anielewicz, was determined not to give up without a fight. By this time, the Jews in the Ghetto knew that the daily trains to Treblinka were not transporting the Jews to resettlement camps in the East, but were taking them to a death camp to be killed in gas chambers. It was because the ghetto reisdents began refusing to get on the trains that the Nazis decided to liquidate the ghetto.




A gun crew of SS soldiers battles the Jews in the Warsaw Ghetto


Ukrainian and Latvian SS soldiers marched into the ghetto on April 19, 1943, entering at the northern border of the Ghetto on Zamenhofa street. It was not until May 16 that the SS was able to defeat the handful of resistors, who lasted longer than the whole Polish army when the Germans and the Russians jointly invaded Poland in September 1939.

On April 19, 1988, the 45th anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto uprising, a Memory Lane was marked out through the former Ghetto. The route starts at the corner of ul. Anielewicza and ul. Zamenhofa where a plaque tells you that this was the site of the former Ghetto. The buildings were severely damaged during the fighting, and the Ghetto was torn down. Jewish prisoners were sent to Warsaw from the Auschwitz death camp to clear the ruins of the Ghetto.




SS soldier stands in the ruins of the Ghetto


One of the stops on Memory Lane is the monument pictured at the top of this page, which honors the Jewish resistance fighters; it is the work of sculptor Nathan Rappaport and is sometimes referred to as the Nathan Rappaport Memorial. It is located on ul. Zamenhofa, the street where the fighting began in the Warsaw uprising.

In the photo at the top of this page, the front of the monument is shown. It depicts several of the resistance fighters with Anielewicz in the front holding a hand grenade in his hand. At the start of the fight, a few hand grenades were virtually the only weapons that the Jews had. After they killed a few SS soldiers and the others retreated, the resistance fighters took the weapons from the hands of the dead and continued the fight the next day when the Nazis returned.

The photo below shows the back side of the monument. It depicts a line of Jews marching to their death in a concentration camp. In the courtyard where this monument is located, and at many other places along the route of Memory Lane, are black marble stones like gravestones in a symbolic cemetery, honoring those who died in the ghetto and in the extermination camps.




Back side of Memorial to Heroes of Warsaw Ghetto


The photo below shows the statue called "Little Insurgent" in Warsaw. It depicts a little boy with a helmet that is too big for him, holding a machine gun. When Warsaw was attacked by German troops in World War II, the Polish children, both boys and girls aged 8 to 16, took it upon themselves to become little soldiers and to help defend the city. This photo was sent to us by one of our readers, who says that "It is very important because it shows that even children were willing to risk their lives to defend their country."




Statue of Little Insurgent in Warsaw

Warsaw Ghetto Uprising

The event known as the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising began on April 19, 1943 and ended on May 16, 1943. A total of 56,065 Jews were captured by the Germans during the uprising, and around 6,000 were killed during the destruction of the buildings in the ghetto.

All the photos on this page are from the photo album of Jürgen Stroop, the Commander of the SS troops who put down the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising in 1943. There are 50 photos included in The Stroop Report, which documents the destruction of the Warsaw Ghetto during this action.

In spite of the fact that the photo above is included in the Stroop Report, which was compiled during April and May, 1943, it was identified by Holocaust survivor Tsvi C. Nussbaum as a photo taken after the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising on July 13, 1943 in front of the Hotel Polski on the Aryan side of the Warsaw ghetto, where some Jews had been living as Gentiles. Nussbaum claims that he is the seven-year-old boy in the photo and that the woman on his left is his aunt. Since Nussbaum and his aunt had foreign passports, they were sent to the Bergen-Belsen detention camp as "exchange Jews."

The soldier, who is holding a gun on the little boy in the photo, was Josef Blösche; he was put on trial in East Germany after the war and was executed after being convicted of participating in the action to put down the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising.

Beginning in June 1942, the Jews in the Warsaw Ghetto were transported to the Treblinka death camp on the Bug river, near the eastern border of German-occupied Poland, where they were immediately killed in gas chambers. Eventually, reports of the mass murder got back to the Warsaw Ghetto and a resistance organization called the Z.O.B. (Zydowska Organizacja Bojowa) was formed to prevent any more deportations from the ghetto. The leader of the Z.O.B. was Mordecai Anielewicz.

In January 1943, the Jews in the Warsaw Ghetto resisted the next round-up for deportation to Treblinka; the young Z.O.B fighters fired on German troops as they tried to get the Jews into railroad cars to be transported to the death camp. The Germans retreated after four days of fighting and the Jews began to prepare to hold out against future attempts to liquidate the ghetto.

The following quote is from the opening statement by Robert Jackson at the Nuremberg International Military Tribunal in which he reads from the Summary of the Stroop Report:

It is the original report of the SS Brigadier General Stroop in charge of the destruction of the Warsaw Ghetto, and its title page carries the inscription "The Jewish ghetto in Warsaw no longer exists." It is characteristic that one of the captions explains that the photograph (the photo shown at the top of this page) concerned shows the driving out of Jewish "bandits"; those whom the photograph shows being driven out are almost entirely women and little children. It contains a day-by-day account of the killings mainly carried out by the SS organization, too long to relate, but let me quote General Stroop's summary:

"The resistance put up by the Jews and bandits could only be suppressed by energetic actions of our troops day and night. The Reichsfuehrer SS ordered, therefore, on 4/23/1943, the cleaning out of the ghetto with utter ruthlessness and merciless tenacity. I, therefore, decided to destroy and burn down the entire ghetto without regard to the armament factories. These factories were systematically dismantled and then burned.

Jews usually left their hideouts, but frequently remained in the burning buildings and jumped out of the windows only when the heat became unbearable. They then tried to crawl with broken bones across the street into buildings which were not afire. Sometimes they changed their hideouts during the night into the ruins of burned buildings. Life in the sewers was not pleasant after the first week. Many times we could hear loud voices in the sewers. SS men or policemen climbed bravely through the manholes to capture these Jews.

Sometimes they stumbled over Jewish corpses: sometimes they were shot at. Tear gas bombs were thrown into the manholes and the Jews driven out of the sewers and captured. Countless numbers of Jews were liquidated in sewers and bunkers through blasting.

The longer the resistance continued the tougher became the members of the Waffen SS, Police and Wehrmacht who always discharged their duties in an exemplary manner. Frequently Jews who tied to replenish their food supplies during the night or to communicate with neighboring groups were exterminated.

"This action eliminated," says the SS commander, "a proved total of 56,065. To that, we have to add the number killed through blasting, fire, etc., which cannot be counted." (1061- PS)


Warsaw Ghetto Uprising Commander Remembers What Drove Revolt


As Poland prepares to commemorate the 1943 Warsaw ghetto uprising against the Nazis, the last leader of the Jewish revolt is still crystal clear about what drove him and his comrades to take up arms.

"We knew perfectly well that there was no way we could win," Marek Edelman, 85, told AFP in an interview. "It was a symbol of the fight for freedom. A symbol of standing up to Nazism, and of not giving in," he said ahead of the April 15 commemoration.

The annual ceremony has been brought forward because this year the actual April 19 anniversary of the outbreak of the revolt falls on the Jewish Sabbath. Edelman is not planning to take part in the official event, due to be attended by Polish President Lech Kaczynski and his Israeli opposite number Shimon Peres, preferring instead to remember his comrades in private.

The spark for the uprising was the decision by Poland's World War II German occupiers to wipe out the ghetto. The ghetto, set up in 1940 by the invaders to isolate the thriving Jewish community in the capital, contained over 450,000 people at its height.

About 100,000 died inside from hunger and disease, and over 300,000 were sent to Nazi death camps, mostly in mass deportations in 1942 to Treblinka in eastern Poland. As the Germans moved against the remaining 60,000 ghetto dwellers, a estimated 1,000 Jews, mostly in their teens and twenties, decided to make a last stand against the "Final Solution".

Edelman's underground movement, the ZOB, had several hundred members, and in the months before the revolt had scraped together a small arsenal and built ties with other groups.The fighters first clashed with Nazi troops from January 18-22, managing to hinder the deportations. "That gave us some confidence," said Edelman, who was just 20 at the time.

"It was the Germans who actually set the date for our uprising" on April 19, he said. "On the first day, we attacked the columns of Germans who moved into the ghetto to liquidate it. They had to pull out. That was our day of total victory," he said. "The Germans withdrew. They changed commander, and Juergen Stroop was put in charge of the operation," he added. Stroop, a senior SS officer, was notoriously brutal. Arrested in Germany and tried in Poland after the war, he was executed in 1952.

"Of course, nobody could have expected to win. We weren't stupid. We knew perfectly well what the situation was," said Edelman, noting that Soviet forces were still fighting the Nazis far to the east and that the Western Allies were yet to open a second front against the Axis powers. "We wanted to defend the population of the ghetto, to do as much as possible to delay the deportation to the death camps," he explained.

"On the second day, we fought a pitched battle at a camouflage factory. We lost, and that's when the street fighting started. It was a guerrilla operation. We had the whole population behind us, we knew all the secret passages and hiding places." The fighters managed to hold out for almost a month.

With his 3,000 troops unable to snuff out the revolt as fast as expected, Stroop decided to burn down the ghetto, building by building. The 24-year-old leader of the uprising, Mordechai Anielewicz, and 80 comrades committed suicide in their command bunker on May 8, as Nazi forces closed in. Edelman took his place and, along with around 40 fighters, escaped through the sewers on May 10.

Skirmishes gradually petered out over the following days, and on May 16 Stroop ordered Warsaw's main synagogue to be blown up to mark his "victory over the Jews".

Around 7,000 Jews died in the revolt, most of them burned alive, and more than 50,000 were deported to the death camps.

Estimated Nazi losses were 300, dead and injured combined. Edelman and his comrades vowed to continue the battle, and he later fought in an unsuccessful two-month uprising launched by the Polish resistance in Warsaw on August 1, 1944.

Scenes of Hunger and Starvation

Anecdotal evidence attesting to this desperate situation is voluminous andwill only be sampled. Before things became too difficult, it was possible to jokeabout the shortage of food, as was the case with the previously plump middle-agedwomen who laughed about no longer needing to diet. The ghetto slang for foodcoupons was Bona -- bone -- a play on the idea of throwing a dog a bone. Anotherbit of ghetto slang was the phrase, "to surrender [ration] coupons," as aeuphemism for "to die." A poem has survived titled Fun Letztn Hurbn, "The RationCard," which ends: "To part with you is very hard / I won't give up my darlingcard." And another anonymous rhymer wrote:


    When we have nothing to eat,
    They gave us a turnip, they gave us a beet.
    Here have some grub, have some fleas,
    Have some typhus, die of disease.


  Obviously, it was easier to rhyme "disease" with "fleas" than with "lice,"the true culprit in typhus.

 One of the interviewees remembers her mother stretching the noon meal ofsoup, the main meal of the day, farther and farther. The neighbors and otherswho had no food were invited in, so more water was added to the soup. There camea time for most families when they had to stop inviting others to share a meal.

One's own family had to come first. Another survivor, a girl at the time,recalls how upset she was that her mother wouldn't let her give food to beggars, not understanding that her own family was short of food and her mother sick withapprehension. A young man, recently married, recalls the delight they felt when his wife could afford to buy a pound of horsemeat to make a feast.

Later, even horse meat was unavailable, and some ghetto residents were reduced to eating coagulated horse blood mixed with salt and pepper and spread on bread. Dr. Jakob Penson collected the blood from cows secretly slaughtered in the ghetto, mixed it with onions and a small amount of fat, and fed it to patients swollen with hungeredema. He hoped to increase their blood proteins in this way, and reduce the swelling, but it didn't seem to help.

  In the spring of 1941, shop workers were fainting from hunger, and the ghetto inmates had become blasé about seeing dead bodies lying in the streets although recollections of the bloated corpses of children remain vivid 45 years later.

The chief historian of the ghetto, Emmanuel Ringelblum, recorded the case of a 6-year-old beggar boy who lay in front of Muranowska 24 one night in August 1941, too weak to roll over to a piece of bread thrown down to him from a window.  A similar painful account is that of a family of four, starving, who were given some soup and four rolls. The two children ate their rolls, as did the father; the mother saved hers till the next day. During the night her husband, driven by uncontrollable hunger, crawled to her bed, stole the roll from under her pillow,and then fell over dead still clutching his shameful prize. In an apartment in the house where Emmanuel Ringelblum lived, a father, mother, and their son all died of starvation on the same day in March 1941.

 An unidentified inhabitant of the ghetto recorded seeing a boy, walking down Grzybowska Street, bend over to sweep something up out of the dirt and eat it; there was some ersatz coffee made of roasted wheat mixed in the mud. One waif tried to make a meal of a package of starched collars.

But nothing describes more nauseatingly the state of many of Warsaw's Jews than the incident of a young girl walking to the doctor's office, carrying a jar with a sample of her sick mother's feces; the jar was snatched from her on the street and the contents gulped down by a starving man.  

Another version of this story, or a separate but similar occurrence, was related by Henryk Rubinlicht. His sister, a trained bacteriologist, was visiting a sick friend. She had some human excrement samples with her, en route to the laboratory, when they were snatched out of her hands. Since he is discussing the extremes of hunger at this point, we can assume that the samples were eaten, though he is not explicit on that point.

 When a woman committed suicide by jumping from the fifth floor of their building into the courtyard, she landed on a large cooking pot in which fish werebeing prepared. The pot collapsed and she lay dead, her head badly smashed. Pieces of brain lay mixed with the bloody fish. "Suddenly, small children crawled out of every nook and cranny; they headed for the scene like crawling ants. They grabbed the pieces of fish covered with brain and blood and shoved them into their mouths. I can never forget this scene."

 People of all ages died in the streets, in shelters, in homes, and in hospitals. As Adler observed, "Natural death in the street from hunger, exhaustion, exposure, heart attack, or infectious disease had become the rule."  Wdowinski used to walk about one kilometer from his home to Czyste Hospital, and often saw six to ten bodies lying in the street each day. Night-time created a special hazard because: ". . . even the most courageous or insensitive lost their nerve when, in the darkness of the night, they happened to accidentally step on some soft object that turned out to be a cadaver. On those occasions, invariably, hysterical screams rang out.

  Those found dead on the street usually had not died there. The familycommonly removed a body from their home onto the street, after removing allevidence of identity. In that way,  they might be able to use the extra ration card for a few days; if the family attended the funeral at the cemetery they were sure to stand well out of the way so as not to be recognized and risk having the card taken away.

Similarly in the refugee shelters, mothers hid dead children under beds for days in order to receive a larger food ration. An official Ordnungsdienstreport for 22 July 1941 records the investigation conducted when the decomposed body of 6-year-old Moszek Borensztajn was found in front of Krochmalna 16.  

His mother, Chudesa, was found living in No. 14. She stated that the Judenrat refused to bury anyone without payment. Her child had died and she would soon die also, precisely because she had no money. The boy had starved to death. Another body was found in the courtyard, and a third in the apartment where the Borensztajns lived.

 In desperation, starving mothers left their babies where pedestrian traffic in the ghetto was heaviest, or near a district Ordnungsdienst office, hoping that a passer-by would take pity on the child, or that the Jewish police would take it to an orphanage or other institution. Abandonments such as this happened almost daily.

Conditions were especially bad in prison. In Gesiowka, the prison on Gesia Street run by the Ordnungsdienst, there were 1600 prisoners in May 1942, about half men, half women. There was no sick bay or hospital, and many died from hunger. There were frequent cases of starvation-diarrhea, which had been found to be a sign that death is imminent. "In such cases people are not let out at all. They dirty themselves until they die."

There is some evidence that TOZ may have been providing food both to Pawiak Prison and to Gesiowka. Dr. L. Wulman, who had escaped from Warsaw to the USA some months after war broke out, reported in a letter to the Joint that in one month in 1941, TOZ had supplied 7,652 meals to two houses, one at Gesia 24, theother Dzielna 61. Wulman made a point of mentioning this otherwise banal fact because he knew that Gesiowka and Pawiak Prison were located on these streets under the numbers given. He concluded that TOZ had been compelled to take over the feeding of the inmates of these institutions.

An infuriating contrast based on food partially explains the hatred aroused by the Ordnungsdienst amongst the ordinary Jews of the ghetto. Amidst scenes of starving beggars and emaciated corpses there were a few Jews such as Szerynski, the head of the Ordnungsdienst, and his deputy, Stanislaw Czaplinski.

Because of their positions, these men had unlimited though illicit access to food. Adler, a deputy in the Ordnungsdienst, has described the effect: "On the hunger-stricken streets of the Jewish Quarter, the sight of Szerynski and Czaplinski, those two obese men rolling along, produced a tragi-comic effect."

Another highly visible victim of his own gluttony was the lawyer who headed the tribunal set up by "The 13." Aleksander Bramson had been corpulent before the war; with his new position and the resulting easy access to black market food and drink, this morbidly obese man grew even fatter. "He presented a fantastic and almost unbelievable sight with his insatiable appetite when he sat stuffing food into himself at a loaded table in the Adas restaurant where the 'court's' clientele gathered to drink and to make deals. . . ."

Starvation as Policy


After they occupied Poland, the Nazis laid down a table of rations for allwho resided there. Hans Frank, the governor of the General gouvernement, predicted unequivocally that the Nazis had condemned 1,200,000 Jews to death by starvation.

The provision of food in the General gouvernement was difficult from the beginning. The Germans prohibited the importation of food from the Reich, including those parts of Poland that had been incorporated into the Reich as soon as the surrender took place in 1939. Thus Warsaw effectively was cut off from its usual source of supply, the farms of western Poland.

At first there was no differentiation between the food allowances for Polesand for Jews, but as the Nazi machine revealed its increasingly restrictive and destructive policies against the Jews, they were deprived even more than were gentile Poles. And the Nazis were quite capable of biased distribution of food relief, even in the beginning.

According to the leaders of the Joint in Warsaw, L. Neustadt and David Guzik, when the Germans entered the city they brought motorized kitchens with them. These traveled throughout Warsaw and fed large numbers of Poles, ". . . but Jews were not permitted to receive any food through this source.

It was obvious that this caravan feeding was conducted as propaganda to curry favor with the Poles...." This discriminatory relief was confirmed by William McDonald, an American Quaker official of the Commission forPolish Relief, who visited Warsaw early in October 1939.

He described an automobile procession of 142 cars, three miles long, distributing 250,000 meals daily. None of these meals was served to Jews. When he returned to Berlin he was informed by the National Socialist Welfare Organization (a propaganda arm of the Nazis) that ". . . the word Pole does not under any circumstance include Jews."

Rationing began in December 1939, though the fact that an item was rationed did not mean that one necessarily could buy it. In May 1940, the bread rationwas cut from 500 gm daily to 200 gm for Jews, though Poles continued to receive 570 gm. Moreover, from this time Jews were allowed essentially no sugar. Poles could obtain limited amounts.

Thus although the non-Jewish Poles were hungry too, their situation was not nearly as bad as it was in the ghetto. Various estimates show that Christian Poles received about 500 calories officially. The allotment for patients in general hospitals was increased from 1000 to 1400 calories during 1942. Despitethis change, hospitals were hardly idyllic places with respect to rations.

One Jewish woman who had taken up a Christian identity in Warsaw told oflooking after a friend who had a baby in a Warsaw hospital. She had to struggleto find food to take to her friend since the hospital was woefully lacking.

Dr.Hagen admitted that in health institutions outside the ghetto, such as orphanagesand nursing homes, the ration remained at 500 calories, the standard Polish dailycaloric supply. Because of steadily diminishing resources, the caloric value of self-help meals provided in Christian Warsaw fell from 460 calories in December 1940 to 153 calories in July 1941.

By 1941, the official ration provided 2613 calories per day for Germans inPoland (including the Volkdeutsch), 699 calories for Poles, and 184 calories for Jews in the ghetto. Gutman states rather naively that there was "little chance"of surviving on the official ration alone. Actually, there was not the slightest chance for Poles or Jews to survive on the official ration.

Gutman also makes the important observation that at no time during theexistence of the ghetto did the entire public find itself in the same situation. It is tempting to simplify the facts and to think that hunger was slight in 1940 and severe in 1942 as a generality.

But one's dietary status depended on whether one was a native Varsovian or a refugee, and whether one had money or valuables, or was working regularly, or had neither money nor a job. Refugees arrived insuccessive waves. People used up their money or lost their jobs, and these events took place at different times. Thus the population was never homogeneous with respect to their position on any imaginary scale between well-being and death by starvation.

Trunk has provided a graphic representation of the insolubility of themoney/food equation in June 1941, midway through the existence of the ghetto. He presents a monthly budget, for a family of four Jews, to purchase from the blackmarket only those staples not supplied in the Nazi ration. That is, what the family needed to survive, over and above what was officially permitted.

The family needed to buy food that added up to a total monthly expenditure for staple foods alone of 1,114.16 zlotys. A skilled carpenter, if able to work at all, and working 10-11 hours daily,  might earn about 1,000 zloty ($200) a month. And few Jews were skilled carpenters, one of the better paid trades; most Jews could not find any type of paid work.

Both within the ghetto and in the rest of Warsaw, the increase in prices far exceeded any alterations in wages. Indeed, wages for the Jews probably decreased some what for those who could obtain work, while in gentile Warsaw wages doubled but prices increased by 20 times. The Nazis forbade raises, and then claimed that there was no inflation, only high prices. Inside the ghetto, food prices increased 27 times.

By way of comparison with the food supply in the ghetto, prisoners-of-war from the Western nations averaged perhaps 1700 calories from German supplies, though one estimate suggested a range of only 128 to 684 calories a day. The remainder needed to sustain health came from the highly esteemed Red Cross parcels.

Fortunately for the POWs, Red Cross supplements usually were available. French civilians in Northern France during the war averaged 1200 calories during1941. For an ordinary-sized adult, performing only sedentary activities, the minimum caloric intake needed simply to sustain the status quo is between 2,000 and 2,400 calories daily. This figure is the same whether one is German or Polish, Christian or Jewish.

Yet German policy depended upon who was interpreting it. While Hans Frank calmly observed the Jews starving to death on 200 calories daily,  Dr. Wilhelm Hagen protested that the food supply in the ghetto needed to be improved up to the bare subsistence level (einer Aufbesserung bis zum nackten Existenzminimum), which would have meant providing at least 2000 calories daily.  

Even if Hagen was sincere the likelihood of being able to do this was small. And, of course, it did not happen. On 19 August 1941, Heinz Auerswald told Czerniakow that the Krakow administration of the General gouvernement ". . . is also inclined not to starve out the ghetto Jews. However, the ration cannot be increased at this point because the newly captured territories [in the USSR] absorb a lot of food." That is, the Nazis would permit nothing to benefit the Jews if it was at the expense of any other group.

Germany itself had a serious shortage of food. Even in the capital city, Berlin, the heart of the Third Reich, food was scarce as early as the end of 1940. There, on 11 November 1940, "Missie" Vassiltchikov saw a dead donkey being carried in the back door of her butcher's shop.

Nevertheless, had the Nazis wanted to do so, the rations to the Jews probably could have been increased at least to the level of bare subsistence. But we know now, unequivocally, that by late 1941 or early 1942, the Final Solution had as its avowed end point the extermination of the Jews. Thus increasing the irrations could not have become policy.

The midday meal in the ghetto varied, depending upon who you were and what your resources were. Lewin has summarized the various alternatives for those whowere able to afford to pay anything at all for their food.  

For a large majority,the noon meal was a dish of watery soup for which they paid 90 groschen. For the small minority who could afford it, however, a lunch could be purchased that included nourishing soup, a large portion of meat, vegetables, and dessert, for up to 20 zloty. This was apparently outside Lewin's means since he outlined the meal "as it was described to me."

Yehoshua Perle left an account of the daily food available to a "permitted" person in the shrunken, broken-up ghetto that remained after the major deportations of the summer of 1942. By then, everyone was merely a number:


    My number receives one quarter of a loaf of loamy bread a day, a tasteful stew, consisting of cooked water, a potato that has been stolen earlier from the pot by someone or other, and also two or three grains of groats which swim around eternally chasing one another and, alas, never catch up. Moreover, from time to time they allot to my number an egg of yesteryear with a drop of blood in it, sometimes a lick of honey, and once in a century also a tiny lump of ancient meat which, crush it into as many pieces as you wish, will never have the taste of vintage wine.
    With a prescribed ration of about 200 calories daily, how did the Jews survive almost two years in the ghetto? Many attempts were made to increase the daily ration. All efforts to have the German supplies increased proved to be dead ends. But other routes were more effective. These included the provision of food to the poor by the Judenrat and by several social welfare agencies,direct smuggling of food by hungry Jews, increased production of food and, most commonly, the purchase on the black market of smuggled food.

Before the war, estimations had suggested that a laborer required 2380 calories per day. The official ration actually received in the ghetto in January1941 was 219 calories (9.2% of normal), and in August 1941, 177 calories (7%). Yet more calories actually were received, thanks to the various clandestine methods mentioned. In December 1941, actual caloric intake was estimated to be 784 calories for beggars and 1125 for the general population, with a select few receiving as many as 1665 calories daily. These figures include food from allsources.

What did the actual 800-calorie diet for refugees contain? Researchers in the ghetto estimated that there were 3 gm fat and 20 to 30 gm vegetable protein:" It consisted of dark bread, rye flour, kasha, potatoes, traces of butter, lard, oil, sugar, and a plateful of soup. It contained mostly carbohydrates and was grossly deficient in vitamins."  

The consequence was predictable. Trunk estimated the percentage of refugees swollen with starvation edema in four centers: at Stawki 9, 49 percent; at Dzika 3, 62 percent; at Grzybowska 48, 63 percent; and at Zelazna 64, a remarkable 73 percent. In May-June 1941 there were about 20,000 refugees living in the centers; 609 died of hunger, only four from typhus.

One startling observation emphasizes the severity of the hunger even beforethe ghetto was set up. In May 1940, the public kitchens had to be closed for 10 days, and by the end of this time a large number of cases of starvation edema were diagnosed. The Jews being fed from these kitchens were chronically and severely undernourished despite the feedings. Otherwise edema would not have appeared so quickly.

In hospitals in the ghetto, starving children, often bloated with the edema that accompanies hunger, were given half a powdered egg and one vitamin C tablet daily, in addition to whatever daily ration of food was available. The supplement had to be distributed by the doctors because the ward attendant, himself swollen with hunger, ". . . cannot handle the torture of the distribution."

Only doctors and nurses received special rations: 500 grams of soup and 60 gms bread. Other hospital employees did not get this ration, so the doctors and nurses had a meeting and agreed that everyone in the hospital would share, each therefore getting the same amount: 300 grams of soup and 40 grams of bread daily, per person.

From Charles G. Roland, Courage Under Siege: Disease, Starvation and Death in the Warsaw Ghetto.

The Hungry Children


Homeless Children


Historical Background

Starving children in the Warsaw ghetto

Zegota, the Council to Aid the Jews, operated from late fall 1942 until the liberation of Poland. It originated as the Provisional Committee for Aid to Jews, initiated by writer Zofia Kossak-Szczucka (honored as Righteous Among the Nations), who had been horrified by the massive deportations of the Jews of Zegota to Treblinka in the summer of 1942.  

Zegota was a joint organization of Jews and non-Jews from different political orientations, united by the common cause of saving Jews. By the time the Council was established, most of Poland's Jews had been killed, but the organization's activists, at enormous personal risk, managed to help several thousand Jews, especially children.

Thousands of Jewish children were placed in homes, convents and orphanages; the organization arranged for false papers and hiding places; and provided food, medicine and financial aid to the hiding people.

The organization was funded by the Polish government in Exile and Jewish organizations, but suffered from chronic shortage of funds. Several members of Zegota were recognized as Righteous Among the Nations, and a tree was planted at Yad Vashem in honor of the Council.

1943 Newspaper Judaica WARSAW GHETTO UPRISING

Marek Edelman, Commander in Warsaw Ghetto Uprising

Warsaw Ghetto Uprising

The Warsaw Ghetto Uprising (Yiddish: ?????????? ??? ????????? ?????; Polish: Powstanie w getcie warszawskim; German: Aufstand im Warschauer Ghetto) was the Jewish resistance that arose within the Warsaw Ghetto in German occupied Poland during World War II, and which opposed Nazi Germany's effort to transport the remaining ghetto population to Treblinka extermination camp.

The insurgency was launched against the Germans on January 18, 1943. The most significant portion of the rebellion took place from April 19 until May 16, 1943, and ended when the poorly armed and supplied resistance was crushed by the German troops under the direct command of Jürgen Stroop. It was the largest single revolt by the Jews during the Holocaust.


Marek Edelman, a cardiologist who was the last surviving commander of the 1943 Warsaw ghetto uprising against the Germans, died Friday October 2, in Warsaw. He was 90.

A friend, Paula Sawicka, told The Associated Press that Dr. Edelman had died "among friends, among his close people," at her home, where he had lived for the past two years. For many years he lived in Lodz, Poland's second largest city.

Dr. Edelman was one of a handful of young leaders who in April 1943 led a force of 220 poorly armed young Jewish men and women in a desperate and hopeless struggle against the Germans.

He was 20 when the Germans overran Poland in 1939, and in the months that followed he watched as they turned his Warsaw neighborhood into a ghetto, cutting it off from the rest of the city with brick walls, barbed wire and armed sentries. By early 1942, as many as 500,000 Jews had been herded into the area.

In worsening conditions of hunger and brutality, the ghetto residents, wearing the obligatory Star of David armbands, were forced to sew military uniforms and produce other war materials.

Then, starting on July 22, 1942, the ghetto population began to shrink ominously. Each day, armed Germans and the Ukrainians serving with them prodded and wedged 5,000 to 6,000 Jews into long trains, which departed from the Umschlagplatz, a square at the southern end of the ghetto. At times they lured people onto the trains with loaves of brown bread. The Germans said the trains were going to factories where work conditions were better.

Marek Edelman and the young people with whom he had forged clandestine links knew that such claims were lies and that the human cargos were in fact being taken to camps near Lublin, where they were shot, put into boxcars with quicklime or forced into gas chambers. He and his colleagues talked about armed resistance but had no weapons at the time.

He spent every day at the Umschlagplatz watching as trains were loaded and sent off. He was there ostensibly in his official capacity as a messenger for the ghetto hospital, carrying documents in his pocket that enabled him to pull people off the trains by designating them too ill to travel. Since the Germans held to the fiction that the passengers were being sent to better surroundings, they made a show of holding back the sick. In fact, young Marek used the passes to save people who would be useful to the Jewish Combat Organization, then being formed.

"I was merciless," he recalled many years later. "One woman begged me to pull out her 14-year-old daughter, but I was only able to take one more person, and I took Zosia, who was our best courier."

On Sept. 8, when according to German records 310,322 Jews had been put on the trains and sent to the death camps and 5,961 more had been murdered inside the ghetto, the liquidation was suspended. There were some 60,000 Jews still in the ghetto. The leaders of the Jewish Combat Organization were certain that the Germans would try to finish the liquidation, and for the next six months the organization planned for armed resistance.

At 4 oíclock on the morning of April 19, 1943, as German soldiers and their Ukrainian, Latvian and Polish henchmen marched through the ghetto to round up people, they came, for the first time, under sustained fire. By midafternoon they were forced to withdraw without having taken a single person.

The fighting continued for three weeks. On one side were 220 ghetto fighters, hungry and relatively untrained youths deployed in 22 units. Each unit had a pistol, five grenades and five homemade bottle bombs. They also had two mines and one submachine gun.

Ranged against them, on a daily average, were 36 German officers and 2,054 others with an arsenal that included 82 machine guns, 135 submachine guns and 1,358 rifles along with armored vehicles, artillery and air power used to set the ghetto ablaze.

Dr. Edelman buried his fallen comrades and used his knowledge of the neighborhood, where he had grown up, to find escape routes for units that were pinned down. Many years later he would say that no one ever established how many Germans they had killed: "Some say 200, some say 30. Does it make a difference?"

"After three weeks," he recalled, "most of us were dead."

At the end he found a way out of an encircled position, leading 50 others with him.

Eventually, he took part in the Warsaw uprising of 1944, when for 63 days Poles fought valorously but unsuccessfully to liberate their capital from the Germans.

Once the war ended, he threw himself into his medical studies and became a doctor in Lodz. For 30 years he kept his memories and thoughts about what happened to himself, concentrating on his medical work and becoming one of Polandís leading heart specialists and the author of a much-used textbook on the treatment of heart attacks.

Even after Poland's anti-Semitic campaign of 1968, when he was demoted at the hospital and most of the remaining Jews in Poland, including his wife and two children, emigrated, Dr. Edelman stayed. He was unwilling, and perhaps unable, to tear himself away from the place where East European Jewry had once thrived and then perished as he watched.

Then, in 1976, he suddenly spoke out, telling Hanna Krall, a Polish writer of Jewish origin, what he had so carefully remembered. The recollections were stark and surprising. He challenged those who claimed that there had been many more than 220 ghetto fighters. Most provocatively, he insisted that it was not more meaningful or heroic to die with a gun in one's hands than to perish in apparent submission to an overwhelming and invincible evil.

"These people went quietly and with dignity," he told Mrs. Krall, speaking of the millions killed in the Nazi gas chambers. "it is an awesome thing, when one is going so quietly to one's death. It is definitely more difficult than to go out shooting."

After the book appeared, Dr. Edelman was often sought out by visitors from around the world, whose questions he would sometimes wave aside gruffly, saying that people who had not been there could never understand the choices made in the ghetto.

He would cite the example of a nurse in the ghetto hospital who he said was greatly admired, and deservedly so, for smothering newborn children to save their mothers the inevitable pain that would come when the babies starved to death.

He would dispute the use of the word "uprising," saying that it normally implied some slight prospect of victory. In the ghetto, he said, there was no such prospect.

"It was a defensive action," he would say, or, "We fought simply not to allow the Germans alone to pick the time and place of our deaths."

Marek Edelman was born on Sept. 19, 1919, the only son of a family that spoke Yiddish at home and Polish at work. His father died when he was very young; his mother, who worked as a secretary at a hospital, died when he was 14. While going to high school he was looked after by his motherís friends from the hospital.

Dr. Edelman was an early member of the Solidarity free labor union and was among those interned when Gen. ?Wojciech Jaruzelski declared martial law in 1981.

Two years later he was asked to serve on the organizing committee for an observance of the 40th anniversary of the ghetto uprising. He declined, saying that to do so ìwould be an act of cynicism and contemptî in a country ìwhere social life is dominated throughout by humiliation and coercion.

Eight years later he served as Solidarityís consultant on health policy in the round-table talks that led to democratic rule for Poland. In the first free elections, he ran for the Polish Senate, losing narrowly. He kept working at the hospital in Lodz, dodging any suggestion that he retire. He held an honorary doctorate from Yale.

Dr. Edelmanís wife, Alina Margolis-Edelman, a pediatrician, died last year in Paris. She had worked as a nurse in the Warsaw ghetto. He is survived by their two children, Aleksander, a biophysicist, and Ania, a chemist, both of Paris, as well as two grandchildren.

The Polish title of the book Mrs. Krall wrote about Dr. Edelman could be translated as ìTo Finish Before God,î with the implicit idea being one of racing with God. But when the English translation was published by Henry Holt and Company, it was called ìShielding the Flame,î a reference to a passage in which Dr. Edelman explained his philosophy both in the ghetto and later as a doctor.

"God is trying to blow out the candle, and I'm quickly trying to shield the flame, taking advantage of his brief inattention," he said. "To keep the flame flickering, even if only for a little while longer than he would wish.


  • October 2, 2009

Warsaw Ghetto Uprising--Full Text of a Rare 1944 Pamphlet

"There will be a dawn."--Dorothy Thompson, 1943

"The former Jewish quarter in Warsaw is no longer in existence”--Jurgen Stroop, liquidator of the Warsaw Ghetto.

Dorothy Thompson got that one wrong--or so at least got the "dawn" wrong when it comes to the Jewish uprising in the Warsaw Ghetto in 1943.  There wouldn't be a dawn, there, mainly because there would be hardly any Jews, or Warsaw.  

This battle took place about three years after the Nazis established it as a means of control for the city’s 400,000 or so Jews. In the intermediary years hundreds of thousands of Jews had been “deported” (that is, sent to the concentration camps to be exterminated or worked to death), so that by the time of the Uprising only 60,000 people remained in the Ghetto. 

And by this time there was no doubt in anyone’s mind who lived there (and perhaps too in Warsaw as a whole) what the euphemism of “deportation” actually meant.  The battle started off well for the home defence (the ZOB) but, ultimately, with little access to resource and with nowhere to actually retreat or regroup in the few acres that remained of the original Ghetto, whoever was left in the Ghetto were either killed or captured by 16 May.  The German commander, SS Brigadefuhrer Jurgen Stroop reported on that day that “the former Jewish quarter in Warsaw is no longer in existence”.

This small pamphlet was written by Reca stone in 1944 on the Jewish counter-attack against the Nazis in the ghetto of Warsaw. It is one of not-many that documented not only the resistance in Warsaw, but also of the wholesale liquidation going on in that city and in the concentration camps. in general.  (Again, this was written in 1944. )

There weren't many accounts like this, but there were enough, certainly enough to have made a difference, I think, in how the leaders of the war effort approached whether concentration camps existed or not.  Franklin Roosevelt had exactly one meeting on this topic (which I wrote about here), while many others decided that the idea of exterminating all of European Jewry was so enormously bad and so gigantic that it could not possibly be true.  

Felix Frankfurter famously replied to a first-hand report on the extermination from the great Jan Karski that he just couldn't "beieve" Karski's story--not because the Supreme Court Justice (and Jew)  thought Karski wasn't telling the truth, just that the story itself was unbelievable.  And whether people thought that the stories were the truth but unbelievable (like Frankfurter) , or whether they thought they to be exaggerations, or whether they thought it was impossible, the responses and the subsequent actions mostly seem to have come to the same end of nothingness. Even after years of reports of extermination and brutalities and millions of people missing (as FDR was warned of in that 1942 meeting), the actual eyewitness accounts of the concentration camps were still received as being unbelievable.

This is one of the reasons why General Eisenhower--when viewing the  concentration camp at Ohrduf in April 1945 with Generals Patton and Bradley--suggested that world leaders and other high-rankers come to the camps to bear witness so that future generations would know that such a thing actually existed.  

And so we come to the Reca Stone pamphlet.  There are many other accounts of course of the uprising, and many of those are available on-line--but the Stone account, which is a rare thing in itself (only seven libraries worldwide having a copy of the work) is not on-line, but it is now.  I think that it is a significant report, and it should have a wide audience--things like this should reach as large a readership as is possible. 

An example of Stone's reporting, coming from Underground sources and the Polish Jewish Reporter, on the number of Jews "removed" from the Ghetto of Warsaw between July 22 1942 and September 21, 1942--254,954 over a period of about three months:

But Stone gives no sentiment to the idea of Jews "perishing".  On page 20 she describes the death camp Treblinka, and how thousands and thousands of Jews met their death in the gas chambers, or by suffocation and scalding, or by execution, or by live burial.  

She writes boldly: In this manner 250,000 Jews were transported from the Warsaw Ghetto...and in this manner tjhey met their death".  Period.  No euphemism here.

She also quotes Washington sources that "two million" Jews had "perished" (the Federal term, not Stone's), and that "five millions were imminently threatened with death".  She pretty much got everything correct, as unbelievable as it sounded, then.  Or now.  




Jewish Partisans

Jewish partisans, survivors of the Warsaw ghetto uprising, at a family camp in Wyszkow forest. Poland, 1944.

  • 1944

Lessons from the Warsaw Ghetto

In June 1942 the Nazis started deporting the Ghetto residents to Treblinka, to their deaths. The Judenrat had known of the death camps as early as January 1942 when two prisoners, part of the team ordered to dig mass graves at Chelmno death camp, escaped to the Warsaw Ghetto. Their account of the gassing of Jews was preserved as part of the Ringelblum archive. Yet despite this knowledge the Judenrat lied to their people and helped the Nazis round up and deport Jews to their slaughter. By the end of the summer they had helped send up to 300,000 people to their deaths.

In the face of the deportations, Jewish resistance groups for the first time united in October 1942 to form the Jewish Fighting Organisation (in Polish, Zydowska Organizacja Bojowa, or ZOB), prominent amongst the Jewish resistance groups was The Bund, a fiercely anti-Zionist socialist organisation.

The greatest difficulty the resistance had was convincing their people of the imminent death waiting for them if they board the railroad cars, and therefore the absolutely necessity to stand and fight. The people, out of false hope, believed the Jewish elite that the deportations were only "relocations to the east".

Warsaw Ghetto Resistance appeal to residents:
"You must be prepared to resist, not give yourself up
to slaughter like sheep.." (April 23, 1943)

Although by January 1942 the Judenrat had confirmation 
that the rumours of death camps were true, yet as this 
poster of July 1942 indicates they still sent Jews to 
their deaths. Judenrat poster (in both German and Polish) 
telling Jews of Warsaw, regardless of age or sex, that 
they have to report at 11am on 22 July 1942 for 
"relocation to the East", their luggage allowance is 
15kg. Excluded from the 'relocation' are people 
affiliated to the Judenrat. The poster ends with a 
'punishment' section.. Jewish Fighting Organisation (ZOB) appeal to resist dated April 23, 1943(right) included the words:


"We are slaves and when slaves no longer bring in profits they are killed. Each of us must realise this, and always keep it in mind. Jewish masses, the hour is drawing near. You must be prepared to resist, not give yourself up to slaughter like sheep. Not a single Jew should go to the railroad cars.. Our slogan must be: All are ready to die as human beings."

Their first task was to eliminate the Jewish collaborators and Gestapo agents starting with the execution of the Nazi-appointed chief of the Jewish police. With that obstacle out of the way, the residents more readily joined the resistance.

The other problem the resistance had was getting weapons. The Polish underground managed to smuggle arms and ammunition through the sewer system into the ghetto, but it was barely enough. Out numbered and out gunned, they never the less put up a valiant defense of the Ghetto.

With only 60,000 residents now left in the Ghetto, Himmler tasked Jurgen Stroop to finish the job and send the remaining Jews to the camps. As Stroop's 2,000 Waffen-SS troops entered the ghetto on 19th April 1943 the resistance were ready. 750 fighters armed with just two machine-guns, fifteen rifles, 500 pistols, and some grenades and petrol bombs took on the might of the Nazis and won - Stroop was forced to order his troops to retreat.

The Polish underground newspaper Glos Warszawy (The Warsaw Voice) wrote at the time that that all oppressed peoples, including Poles, ought to use the ghetto Jews as a role model: 

"We can all learn a lesson from this battle . . . The revolt in the ghetto teaches us that it is possible to fight a war against the Germans ... In the Warsaw ghetto a new front was opened ..."


"The Stroop Report: The Warsaw Ghetto Is No More"
Nazi commander Jürgen Stroop's 75 page, day-by-day 
account of the operation to 'cleans' the ghetto of 
'subhumans' and 'terrorists' was studied by senior 
Israeli commanders in preparation for Israel's attack 
on the Palestinian refugee camp of Jenin in 2002

It took Stroop a full month before the ghetto was razed to the ground and the operation officially came to an end. Stroop kept a detailed 75 page report of the operation starting with a 16 page strategy summary followed by daily reports and an appendix containing around 50 photos, the report was titled "The Warsaw Ghetto Is No More!".

After a portion of the bunker inhabitants had been brought out and were being searched, a woman reached as quick as lightning under her dress and pulled a hand grenade from her panties, from which she pulled the pin and threw into the men doing the search..

"After a portion of the bunker inhabitants had been brought out and were being searched, a woman reached as quick as lightning under her dress and pulled a hand grenade from her panties, from which she pulled the pin and threw into the men doing the search.."


Nazi SS Brigadefuhrer Stroop

The Stroop Report (entry for May 13 1943, page 68)

  • May 13 1943,

Uprising Photos

This image perhaps encapsulates neatly how the Germans under Hitler's influence felt about Jews.

Two Ukrainian SS men watch a pile of bodies of women and children who were killed during the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising.

Two Ukrainian SS men watch a pile of bodies of women and children who were killed during the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising.

"The Cigarette Sellers of Three Crosses Square"

A photomontage of the children known as "The Cigarette Sellers of
Three Crosses Square" from the "Aryan" side of Warsaw.

Perets Hochman, one of the children known as "The Cigarette Sellers of Three Crosses Square" from the "Aryan" side of Warsaw.

Mordechai Anielewicz

A portrait drawing of Mordechai Anielewicz, commander of the Warsaw ghetto uprising.

The last letter of Mordechai Anielewicz, commander of the Warsaw
ghetto uprising, written to his second - in - command Yitzhak


Certificate of fighting against Nazism, granted posthumously to
Mordechai Anielewicz, commander of the Warsaw ghetto uprising.

Pola Elster

Pola Elster, Warsaw native, member of Po'alei Zion - Left and the
Jewish Fighting Organization in the Warsaw ghetto.


Fields (Perl) Elster , pseud. Eve , Goldman 

(born 28 November 1911 in Warsaw , died. 27 September 1944 ) - Jewish social activist, Member of the National Council (1943-1944).

She was a seamstress by profession. During the interwar period acted in a radical leftist organizations (starting from the time of junior high), for which he was arrested twice (1929, 1933).

She was a member of the Jewish Fighting Organization in the Warsaw ghetto. To the National Council had been notified by Poale Zion-Left - oath by December 31, 1943. In March 1944 stood at the head of the so-called. paper cited by the Jewish National Council (along with Adolf Berman ).She died in the Warsaw Uprising , posthumously awarded the Grunwald Cross Second Class.

She is buried in the main avenue of the Jewish cemetery at Okopowa Street in Warsaw (quarter 39) 

Pola Elster's Tomb

  • 28 November 1911~27 September 1944

Pola Elster

 A decoration for fighting against
Nazism, granted posthumously to Pola Elster, member of the Jewish underground in the Warsaw ghetto.

Shlomo Alterman

Shlomo Alterman, member of the Dror youth movement and the Jewish underground in the Warsaw ghetto.


Shlomo Alterman Shliamek' Birth country: Poland Birth city: Zhelichov Birth date: 01/01/1919 BIOGRAPHY
When he was a child, his family moved to Warsaw and he grew up in the Jewish Quarter of the city. He received a traditional education and also went to evening classes at the Tarbut School. He was an active member of Freiheit and was active in the sports union, Hapoel, as well. In the Ghetto he looked after organization members who came from the training kibbutzim in the country to Warsaw, and worked in the post office of the Ghetto.
When the Z.O.B. was formed, he took an active part in their operations. He participated in the Ghetto Revolt in the ranks of the fighting company, Dror. Shlomo fell in battle.

  • 01/01/1919~ 5/1/1943

Peretz Opoczynski

Peretz Opoczynski, member of Po'alei Zion and the Jewish
underground in the Warsaw ghetto.

Mira Izbicka

Mira Izbicka, member of the Ha - Shomer ha - Tsa'ir youth movement and the Jewish underground in the Warsaw ghetto.

  • 1921~1943

akov Bilek ("Janek")

akov Bilek ("Janek"), member of the Bund and the Jewish
underground in the Warsaw ghetto.

Miriam (Marysia) Ajzenstadt

Miriam (Marysia) Ajzenstadt, young Jewish singer in the Warsaw 

Tosia Altman

Tosia Altman, member of Ha - Shomer ha - Tsa'ir and a courier for
the Jewish underground in the Warsaw ghetto.


Tova (Toshia) Altman 

(1918 – 1943)

Worked with Mordechai Anielewicz as a member of the ?OB during the Warsaw ghetto uprising.

She initially worked as a courier, making contact with Jewish resistance groups outside of the ghetto and providing them with updates on resistance clashes, as well as providing educational material that was banned by the occupying German forces. Later, she was critical in helping to smuggle weapons and explosives into the Warsaw ghetto.

She escaped a capture attempt on 18 January 1943 and moved to the ZOB bunker at 18 Mi?a Street, she was one of the few to survive the battle on 8 May that saw the bunker abandoned and Mordechai Anielewicz killed.

Despite suffering wounds to the leg and head, Altman was able to join a group of approximately seventy-five resistance fighters who left the ghetto on 10 May in a daring sewer escape.

She was captured again by the Nazis on 24 May when the celluloid factory she was sheltering in accidentally caught fire and she suffered severe burns. She was taken into custody by the Gestapo and died shortly afterward, receiving no medical treatment.

  • 1918 – 1943

Ester Altenberg

Ester Altenberg, member of the Dror youth movement and the Jewish Fighting Organization in the Warsaw ghetto.

Yehuda Ejzen

Yehuda Ejzen, member of the Jewish underground in the Warsaw
ghetto. Photographed in August 1935.

Zecharia Artstein

Zecharia Artstein, member of the Dror youth movement and the
Jewish underground in the Warsaw ghetto.

Malka - Mania Alterman

Malka - Mania Alterman, member of Po'alei Zion - Left and the
Jewish underground in the Warsaw ghetto.


Malka - Mania Alterman, member of Po'alei Zion - Left and the Jewish underground in the Warsaw (Warszawa) ghetto.

Malka Alterman was born in 1915 in Zelechow, moved to Warsaw at an early age and finished her education in an ORT school.

At age 14 she joined the Po'alei Zion - Left (Yungbor) youth movement, and soon became a counselor. At the outbreak of WWII she continued with her underground movement activities and served on the Po'alei Zion steering committee in Warsaw.

She was active in public social services and particularly in organizing and setting up soup kitchens.

Malka Alterman fought in the Warsaw ghetto uprising in April 1943, and fell in combat. She was posthumously awarded the "Virtuti Militari" by the Polish army High Command.

  • 1915~1943

Malka - Mania Alterman

Certificate of the posthumous military award of Malka - Mania
Alterman, member of the Jewish underground in the Warsaw ghetto

Yakov Chaim Meir Aleksandrovic

Yakov Chaim Meir Aleksandrovic, member of Ha - Shomer ha - Tsa'ir and the Jewish Fighting Organization in the Warsaw ghetto.

Yakov Chaim Meir Aleksandrovic, member of the Zionist pioneering youth movement Ha - Shomer ha - Tsa'ir and the Jewish Fighting Organization in the Warsaw (Warszawa) ghetto. Note: Aleksandrovic was born in 1924 in Ostrowiec Kielecki. During WWII he joined the Ha - Shomer ha - Tsa'ir youth movement ...

  • 1924


A bunker used by the Jewish resistance during the Warsaw ghetto uprising


A corpse in a coffin in the Warsaw ghetto

Warsaw & The Ghetto Uprising

A starving Jew on the streets of Warsaw

A Jewish man and daughter in the Warsaw ghetto

A group of children are gathered on a street corner in the Warsaw ghetto

A German gun crew prepares to shell the ruins of a building during the suppression of the Warsaw ghetto uprising

A factory razed by the SS burns during the suppression of the Warsaw ghetto uprising


Debris filled street in the Warsaw ghetto

Letters from the Jewish Underground Youth Movement in Warsaw (Fall 1942)

Warsaw, Fall 1942

Lately I have been feeling ill. My health is not in order. I have lung disease and spit blood. I regret deeply that this will prevent me from entering into marriage with my beloved Moledet ["Homeland"].

Our love developed 15 years ago when we studied together at school, and I sang her love-songs while I was still a child. Eight years ago I began to work in her father's office [Zionist Movement], and I made progress in my work, steadily, which increased my chances of marriage [immigration].

To my great sorrow you will see that disease has struck me, and my dreams of life joined to hers [Eretz Israel] is doomed to remain a dream. But whatever happens, I will continue to bear great love for her, and the last words that I breathe before my death will be the name by which I have called her.

Gerushovitch [a play on gerush , Hebrew for deportation] and his brother Tevahovitch [ tevah – slaughter] send you their greetings. My people labors and is going down to Killayon [ Killayon – annihilation] with the aid of Yekes [the Germans]. I am only surprised that his rich aunt, Olamska [ Olam – world], is not helping him at all. I suppose that she knows only very little about your people....

Hrubieszow, 1942

My dear friend!

Do not let the pathos of the opening frighten you. It contains what I surely will not be able to express in the letter itself. I began to write to you times without number, but I was always overcome by the feeling of a senselessness in writing, and this saved me from absurd action. You understand...

I always find myself accompanied by the realization that it is illusion and self-torture to cling to the shreds of the past and to bring them out into the light of day. Then why? For you have wiped us from your memory, and what are we? It is known that one cannot draw water from a poisoned spring.

I am holding fast to my soul, in order not to allow escape to the bitterness that has mounted up against you and your friends, who have forgotten us in such a simple way. I am aggrieved against you, that you did not help me even with a few words. But it is not my wish today to settle accounts with you. Only the realization and certainty that we shall never meet again has caused me to write.

The sickness of Israel and my sickness – and you know how long we have been wrestling with it – has been revealed now as entirely without hope of cure, that is what the doctors have ruled. One must therefore slowly become accustomed to this thought. Perhaps it is terrible that there is no longer time enough to assimilate it.

You would surely like to know how the other members of the family are. Pra'otzki [pra'ot – pogrom] and Shehita [ Shehita – killing] live with me and with Israel. There was nothing we could do against it. It has a fatal effect on the health of Israel, and I can see how it will bring about the end. But what can we do — this is the situation and no other.

I am doing everything I can to prevent it but to my regret there are elements that can stop even the strongest will. Israel is dying before my eyes, and I wring my hands and can do nothing to help. Have you ever tried to beat your head against a wall? Two months ago I was in the city where you were born. There I met my friends from Hurban [ hurban – destruction] School. It is doing excellent business....

Hurban accompanied me faithfully and tried to make the days of my visit agreeable. For as regards the satisfaction of emotions he was always very civil. I saw Chajka. Apart from her I found nobody.

As regards our material existence, we manage somehow. We work as before. Josef [Kaplan] and I in our profession [leadership], and it works somehow. Only one thing has changed – the prospects. I have only one desire: to tell the world that Israel is so sick.

For he is my best friend, and even if there cannot be much practical help, still the simple realization that somebody is with us, if only in their thoughts, on our road of suffering, makes it easier. But do not upset yourself too much, my friend. After all, there are theories concerning adaptation to conditions.

This has become a strange letter. At first it was intended to talk only about myself and about you: how I draw up from my memory details about you, and how sometimes when things are difficult I wonder what you would have done in the same case. But sometimes I cannot dredge up your appearance in my memory. I have not a single photograph. Who knows what will happen to me before you get this letter.

Don't give greetings to anyone. I don't want to know them!  But you I would like to see again.

Tosia [Altman]

Adam! A few days ago I saw your parents. They are managing all right. We, too, remember them with affection. So you may feel reassured about them.

Source: B. Habas, Mihtavim min ha-Getta'ot ("Letters from the Ghettos"), Tel Aviv, 1943, pp. 40-43.

* Many of the letters contain coded expressions taken from the Hebrew.

Women and the Warsaw Ghetto:

by Marjorie Wall Bingham 

There is a striking difference between the photographs of women in the Warsaw Ghetto as they appear in books and on websites and the written descriptions of women in memoirs and histories.

Visually, the women appear frightened, passive, often in a state of surrender. And no wonder, since the photographers were Germans documenting their version of the defeat of the 1943 Ghetto Uprising.

But in written sources, women appear decisive, constantly devising strategies for living, as Halina Birenbaum put it, "where death had its hands full."  Irene Sendler, a Christian who knew the Ghetto well, wrote, "Every day, every hour, every minute of the long years spent in that hell was a battle." "Every five minutes," Helen Foxman remembered, "there was something else."

Aims of the Jewish Fighting Organization (1942)

At the end of October 1942 a meeting was held at the Ha-Shomer [Left-wing Zionist] Club in 61 Mila Street. Those present were: Ha-Shomer – Mordecai [Anielewicz]; He-Halutz – Yitzhak [Cukierman]; and Po’alei Zion Smol [Left Labor Zionists] – Pola [Elster], Berlinski, Wasser...agenda...the defense of the Warsaw ghetto.

After an exhaustive discussion in which the following members took part – Pola, Berlinski, Wasser, Mordecai and Yitzhak – we reached a joint conclusion:

(1) That the Jewish Fighting Organization has been established in order to prepare the defense of the Warsaw ghetto;

(2) In order to teach a lesson to the Jewish Police, the Werkschutz,  the managers of the "shops" and all kinds of informers.

When we reached the issue of appointing the leadership, a touchy discussion developed. Should there be one authority or two: military, or military and political? The members of Ha-Shomer and He-Halutz strongly oppose twofold authority. Twofold authority will lead to arguments that will hamper the work. It will take us back to the days on the eve of the Destruction, when the parties argued and did nothing.

The members of Ha-Shomer and He-Halutz speak with derision and scorn of the political parties. The parties have no right to interfere in our affairs. Apart from the youth, after all, they will do nothing. They will only get in the way. One single military leadership must be established, so we can start on the job.

The members of Po’alei Zion Smol point out the faulty assumption of Ha-Shomer and He-Halutz on what they term the death of honor: "We are fighting for our lives.

If a few of us fall in battle we will not make a tragedy of it. Every war claims its victims. If the political parties made certain mistakes it is not you who are entitled to judge them. It was not you who led the political struggle and not you who will lead it in the future... One must not sanction irresponsible acts that are likely to bring about the liquidation of the Warsaw ghetto before its time.

A group or organization that carries out weapon training contains within itself the aspiration and expectation of the happy moment when it will use these arms. We consider it to be an essential condition that a second authority be established which can judge clearly, from a political point of view, what the appropriate time is for the use of arms. Why are you so anxious, why are you so much afraid? Justice will always conquer.

And even if we start out from the assumption that the ghetto will be destroyed and that we shall not be accountable to anyone for our actions, as a political party we declare that we are responsible for our actions before the Jewish masses in the world and before our comrades abroad.

We do not want anybody to stone our graves because we advised irresponsible action. If you do not agree that the political parties will control the fighting organization then you are creating conditions for us that do not permit us to continue to take part...."

As soon as there is agreement on two fold authority, military and political, the foundation stone will have been laid for the joint Jewish Fighting Organization. We have decided to widen the area of our work and to draw the Bund closer to us....


Yad Vashem Archives, JM/2598.

  • 1942

Josef Blösche (1912-1969)


Josef Blösche was an SS-Rottenführer (Corporal) who began his life working as a farmhand and a waiter at his father's hotel. After the acquisition of the Sudetenland, Blösche became a willing servant of the regime.

In September 1941, he began serving as a guard at the Warsaw ghetto and was in charge of the wooden bridge between Warsaw and the ghetto. He became known as “Frankenstein” for his monstrous behavior in the ghetto. He beat and shot men and children for merely looking at him. He also raped women.

After the war, Blösche disappeared into East Germany, but was eventually discovered in the 1960s and brought to trial. For his atrocious behavior in the ghetto, he was sentenced to death and executed in 1969.


SS-Rottenführer (Corporal). From October 1941 until May 1943 he was stationed in Warsaw, where he was in charge of the wooden bridge that connected Warsaw and the ghetto. He became known for his horrible behavior in the ghetto.

Every day he went with his bicycle through the ghetto and shot whoever he wanted without exception. After the war he became prisoner of war in the Czechoslovakia. In 1946 he had a very serious accident in a mine in Vitkovice that left his face completely deformed. One year later he was released from the hospital and returned to Germany.

He married, had children, and worked as a miner in Thuringia. He didn't change his name, but lived at peace and unnoticed for many years in a small village. He never talked about his role in the war. In 1967 a warrant of arrest from Hamburg called the east-germans authorities attention to the quiet man.

He was arrested on charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity. The ten survivors from the ghetto that testified in the trial had problems identifying him because of the deformed face. The trial ended on April 30th 1969 with a death sentence.

He was found guilty for the deportation of 300.000 Jews and for killing at last 2.000 himself. He was brought from Erfurt to Leipzig for the execution. He died the way he had preferred to kill: by a shot through the neck.

His body was burned in the Crematory at the South Cemetery and the ashes were buried anonymously. One photo of him went around the world. It is the photo of a small boy throwing his hands in the air and behind him stands Blösche in his SS uniform, his machine gun pointed at the boy.  

Südfriedhof (South Cemetery) 
Leipzig, Saxony (Sachsen), Germany

  • 1912-1969

Aharon Bruskin

Aharon Bruskin was one of the commanders in the Jewish Fighting Organization.

On May 7, 1943, he was among the fighters who left the bunker at Mila 18 through the sewage system to summon the aid of members of the Jewish Fighting Organization in the Aryan section of Warsaw. As they came out of the sewage pipe they were ambushed by the Germans and most of them, including Bruskin, were killed in the ensuing fight. He was 25 years old when he died.

  • May 7, 1943

Mira Fuchrer (1920-1943)

Mira Fuchrer was a Ha'Shomer Ha'Tza'ir activist and Mordechai Anielewicz's girlfriend.

In her letters to a friend who remained in Vilna, she often mentioned her great love for Mordechai. She fought alongside him during the uprising and died with him in the headquarters bunker at Mila 18, on May 8, 1943. She was 23 years old when she died.

Born: Unknown
Died: May 8, 1943 - Warsaw, Poland



Mordechai Anielewicz & Mira Fuchrer
Painted by Shimon Garmize

Mira Fuchrer was a member of the Jewish resistance who fought the Nazis in the Warsaw Ghetto uprisings. Her boyfriend was Mordechai Anielewicz, leader of theJewish Fighting Organization (ZOB), a group formed to resist the Nazis.

She died at headquarters along with Anielewicz and several others on May 8, 1943 after the location was overrun by Nazis. Some sources suggest that they committed suicide. She died at 23 years old


  • 1920-1943

The Girl Couriers of the Underground Movement (May 19, 1942)

The heroic girls, Chajka [Grosman], Frumke [Plotnicka] and others – theirs is a story that calls for the pen of a great writer.

They are venturesome, courageous girls who travel here and there across Poland to cities and towns, carrying Aryan papers which describe them as Polish or Ukrainian. One of them even wears a cross, which she never leaves off and misses when she is in the ghetto.

Day by day they face the greatest dangers, relying completely on their Aryan appearance and the kerchiefs they tie around their heads. They accept the most dangerous missions and carry them out without a murmur, without a moment's hesitation. If there is need for someone to travel to Vilna, Bialystok, Lvov, Kowel, Lublin, Czestochowa, or Radom to smuggle in such forbidden things as illegal publications, goods, money, they do it all as though it were the most natural thing.

If there are comrades to be rescued from Vilna, Lublin, or other cities, they take the job on themselves. Nothing deters them, nothing stops them. If it is necessary to make friends with the German responsible for a train so as to travel beyond the borders of theGeneralgouvernement, which is allowed only for people with special permits – they do it quite simply, as though it were their profession.

They travel from city to city, where no representative of any Jewish institution has reached, such as Volhynia and Lithuania. They were the first to bring the news of the tragedy in Vilna. They were the first to take back messages of greeting and encouragement to the survivors in Vilna. How many times did they look death in the eye?

How many times were they arrested and searched? But their luck held. "Those who go on an errand of mercy will meet no evil." With what modesty and simplicity do they deliver their reports on what they accomplished during their travels on trains where Christians, men and women, were picked up and taken away for work in Germany.

Jewish women have written a shining page in the history of the present World War. The Chajkes and the Frumkes will take first place in this history.

These girls do not know what it is to rest. They have hardly arrived from Czestochowa where they took forbidden goods, and in a few hours they would move on again: they do it without a moment's hesitation, and without a minute's rest.

Source: E. Ringelblum, Ksovim fun geto ("Notes from the Ghetto"), I, Warsaw, 1961-1963, pp. 359-360.

Benjamin Wald

Wald was a member of the “Dror” movement. During the Great Uprising in the Warsaw Ghetto, he commanded a force in Toebbens-Shultz at 36 Leszno Street.

He was in charge of the prison established by the Jewish Fighting Organization and for the execution of several traitors and collaborators. He was nicknamed “Tatale” (daddy) because of his short stature.

Wald was killed in May 1943 while making his way out of a sewage pipe in the Polish sector. He was 23 years old when he died.

  • May 1943

Stefan Szuberski

Stefan Szuberski was a member of the youth organization of the socialist party in Poland.

He helped the Jewish Fighting Organizationescape the burning ghetto for the forests of Lomianki and Wyszkow where they continued fighting with partisan detachments.

A Pole who saw him near the sewage pipes on the Aryan side reported him. He was found in a restaurant and shot dead by the Germans.


“Antek” Zukerman

Zuckerman was a member of Ha'Chalutz.

He was one of the founders of the Jewish Fighting Organization and deputy to Mordechai Anielewicz.

He was sent to the Aryan sector as the liason with the Polish undergrounds and arms acquisition. After the death of Anielewicz, he was appointed commander of the Fighting Organization.

At the end of the war he was active in getting Jews out of Poland. He immigrated to Israel in 1947 and was one of the founders of Kibbutz Lochamei Ha'Geta'ot and Beit Lochamei Ha'Geta'ot, the museum for the heritage of hte Holocaust and the uprising. He died in 1981.

  • 1981

Josef “Andzi” Szerynski

Szerynski was a Jew-hating Proselyte appointed by Adam Czerniakow as head of the Jewish Police.

He was caught smuggling furs that should have been confiscated and was arrested by the Gestapo, but was released before the Great Aktzia.

During the Aktzia, he was seriously injured by Israel Kanal, a member of the Jewish Fighting Organization, who had been sent to assassinate him. After the assassination attempt, Szerynski escaped from the ghetto and hid in the Polish sector. He committed suicide during the minor uprising in January 1943.

Jewish Military Organization Calls for Resistance in the Warsaw Ghetto (January 1943*)

We are rising up for war!

We are of those who have set themselves the aim of awakening the people. Our wish is to take this watchword to our people:

Awake and fight!

Do not despair of the road to escape!

Know that escape is not to be found by walking to your death passively, like sheep to the slaughter. It is to be found in something much greater: in war!

Whoever defends himself has a chance of being saved! Whoever gives up self-defense from the outset – he has lost already!

Nothing awaits him except only a hideous death in the suffocation-machine of Treblinka.

Let the people awaken to war!

Find the courage in your soul for desperate action!

Put an end to our terrible acceptance of such phrases as:

We are all under sentence of death!

It is a lie!!!

We were destined to live! We too have a right to life!

One only needs to know how to fight for it!

It is no great art to live when life is given to you willingly!

But there is an art to life just when they are trying to rob you of this life.

Let the people awaken and fight for its life!

Let every mother be a lioness defending her young!

Let no father stand by and see the blood of his children in silence!

Let not the first act of our destruction be repeated!

An end to despair and lack of faith!

An end to the spirit of slavery amongst us!

Let the tyrant pay with the blood of his body for every soul in Israel!

Let every house become a fortress for us!

Let the people awaken to war!

In war lies your salvation!

Whoever defends himself has a hope of escape!

We are rising in the name of the war for the lives of the helpless masses whom we seek to save, whom we must arouse to action! It is not for ourselves alone that we wish to fight. We will be entitled to save ourselves only when we have completed our duty! As long as the life of a Jew is still in danger, even one, single, life, we have to be ready to fight!!!!

Our watchword is:

Not even one more Jew is to find his end in Treblinka!

Out with the traitors to the people!

War for life or death on the conqueror to our last breath!

Be prepared to act!

Be ready!

Archiwum Zydowskiego Instytutu Historycznego w Polsce (Archives of the Jewish Historical Institute in Poland), ARII/333.

* The appeal is attributed to the Jewish Military Organization (Zydowski Zwiazek Wojskowy – ZZW).


The Warsaw Ghetto Uprising (Yiddish: ?????????? ??? ????????? ?????; Polish:Powstanie w getcie warszawskimGermanAufstand im Warschauer Ghetto) was the Jewish resistance that arose within the Warsaw Ghetto in German occupied Poland during World War II, and which opposed Nazi Germany's effort to transport the remaining ghetto population to Treblinka extermination camp.

The insurgency was launched against the Germans on January 18, 1943. The most significant portion of the rebellion took place from April 19 until May 16, 1943, and ended when the poorly armed and supplied resistance was crushed by the German troops under the direct command of Jürgen Stroop. It was the largest single revolt by the Jews during the Holocaust.

In 1940, the German Nazis began to concentrate Poland's population of over three million Jews into a number of extremely crowded ghettos located in large Polish cities. The largest of these, the Warsaw Ghetto, concentrated approximately 300,000–400,000 people into a densely packed central area of Warsaw. Thousands of Jews died due to rampant disease and starvation under theSS and Police Leader Odilo Globocnikand SS-Standartenführer Ludwig Hahn, even before the mass deportations from the ghetto to the Treblinka extermination camp began.

The Nazi forces conducted many of the deportations during the operation code-named Grossaktion Warschau, between July 23 and September 21, 1942. Just before the operation began, the German "Resettlement Commissioner" SS-Sturmbannführer Hermann Höfle called the meeting of the Ghetto Jewish CouncilJudenrat and informed its leader Adam Czerniaków about the "resettlement to the East".[5][6][7] Czerniaków committed suicide once he became aware of the true goal of the "resettlement" plan. Approximately 254,000–300,000 Ghetto residents met their deaths at Treblinka during the two months-long operation. The Grossaktion was directed by SS-Oberführer Ferdinand von Sammern-Frankenegg, the commander of the Warsaw area since 1941. He was relieved of duty by SS-and-Polizeiführer Jürgen Stroop sent to Warsaw by Heinrich Himmler on April 17, 1943. Stroop took over from von Sammern-Frankenegg following his unsuccessful ghetto offensive.

When the deportations first began, members of the Jewish resistance movement met and decided not to fight the SS directives, believing that the Jews were being sent to labour camps and not to their deaths. By the end of 1942 however, it became known to Ghetto inhabitants that the deportations were part of an extermination process. Many of the remaining Jews decided to revolt.

The fighting Opposing forces Jewish insurgents Alleged Jewish fighters.
Stroop Report original caption: "Women captured with arms." (Other versions of caption read "He-Chaluts women captured with arms" and "Armed hags of the Haluzzen movement captured!". Jewish resistance women, among them Malka Zdrojewicz (right), who survived Majdanek extermination camp. Main articles: ?ydowska Organizacja Bojowa and ?ydowski Zwi?zek Wojskowy

The Ghetto fighters (numbering some 400 to 1,000 by April 19) were armed primarily with pistols and revolvers. Just a few rifles and automatic firearms smuggled into the Ghetto were available. The insurgents had little ammunition, and relied heavily on improvised explosive devices and incendiary bottles; more weapons were supplied throughout the uprising or captured from the Germans. Some weapons were hand-made by resistance: sometimes such weapons worked, other times they jammed repeatedly. In his daily reports, Stroop wrote his forces were able to recover the "booty" consisting of:

  • April 20, 1943:...In today's action we caught, apart from the Jews reported above, considerable stores of incendiary bottles, hand grenades, ammunition, military tunics, and equipment.
  • April 22, 1943:...captured 80 incendiary bottles and other booty.
  • April 23, 1943:...We captured apart from valuables and money - some gas masks.
  • April 24, 1943:..and an amount of paper money, especially dollars was captured; this money has not yet been counted.
  • April 25, 1943:..and in one bunker 3 pistols and explosive charges were captured. Further today, significant supplies of paper money, currency, gold coins and items of jewelry were secured.
  • April 26, 1943:...Once again, weapons, Molotov cocktails, explosive devices and large amounts of money were captured.
  • April 27, 1943:...In this operation we captured 3 rifles, 12 pistols, partly of heavier caliber, 100 Polish "pineapple" hand grenades, 27 German steel helmets, quite a number of German uniforms, tunics and coats which were even furnished with ribbon of the East medal, some reserve magazines for machine guns, 300 rounds of ammunition, etc.
  • April 28, 1943:..capturing more arms, ammunition, and military equipment
  • April 29, 1943:..Captured are 2 rifles, 10 pistols, 10 kilograms of explosives, and ammunition of various types
  • April 30, 1943:..Today, we again captured arms and particularly parts of German uniforms from them.
  • May 2, 1943:...arms and ammunition captured.
  • May 3, 1943:...We captured among other things, one German rifle, model 98, two 08 pistols and other calibers, also home-made hand grenades.
  • May 4, 1943:.. We captured 1 carbine, 3 pistols, and some ammunition.
  • May 5, 1943:..Today, we again captured arms and ammunition, including one pistol.
  • May 6, 1943:..One Jew who had escaped from Lublin was caught just outside of the Ghetto wall. He was armed as follows: 1 pistol, ample reserve ammunition, 2 Polish "pineapple" hand grenades.
  • May 7, 1943:..We captured 4 pistols of various calibers and some stores of ammunition.
  • May 8, 1943:..We captured about 15 to 20 pistols of various calibers, considerable stores of ammunition for pistols and rifles, moreover a number of hand grenades, made in the former armament factories.
  • May 9, 1943:..Again we captured some pistols and hand grenades.
  • May 10, 1943:..Today, we again captured small arms and some ammunition.
  • May 11, 1943:..Considerable amounts of food were captured or secured, in order to make it more and more difficult for them to get necessary food...We captured several pistols, hand grenades, and ammunition.
  • May 13, 1943:..Booty: 6 pistols, 2 hand grenades, and some explosive charges.
  • May 14, 1943:..some pistols, among them one of 12-mm caliber, were captured. In one dugout inhabited by 100 persons, we were able to capture 2 rifles, 16 Pistols, some hand grenades and incendiary appliances. Of the bandits who resisted, some again wore German military uniform, German steel helmets and "knobelbecher." 
  • Apart from the carbines. we captured 60 rounds of German rifle ammunition...Booty: rifles, pistols and ammunition. Further, a number of incendiary bottles (Molotov cocktails).
  • May 15, 1943:.. We captured 4 pistols of larger calibers, 1 infernal machine with fuse, 10 kilograms of explosives, and a considerable amount of ammunition.
  • May 24, 1943:
Seven Polish rifles, one Russian and one German rifle, 59 pistols of various calibers, several hundred incendiary bottles, home-made explosives, infernal machines with fuses, a large amount of explosives and ammunition for weapons of all calibers, including some machine gun ammunition. Regarding the booty of arms, it must be taken into consideration that the arms themselves could in most cases not be captured, as the bandits and Jews would, before being arrested, throw them into hiding places or holes which could not be ascertained or discovered. The smoking out of the dug-out by our men, also often made the search for arms impossible. As the dug-outs had to be blown up at once, a search later on was out of the question.
Poster published by ?OB
Furthermore, we captured:

1,240 used uniform tunics (partly equipped with medal ribbons, Iron Cross, and East Medal).
600 pairs of used trousers.
Pieces of equipment, and German steel helmets.
103 horses, 4 of them in the former Ghetto (hearse).

We counted up to 23 May 1943:
4.4 million Zloty. We captured moreover about 5 to 6 million Zloty, not yet counted, a considerable amount of foreign currency, including -
$14,300 in paper.
$ 9,200 in gold.

Large amounts of valuables (rings, chains, watches etc.)
Polish support
"The Warsaw Ghetto Uprising had a real influence... in encouraging the activity of the Polish underground."- Samuel Krakowski
The cover page of The Stroop Reportwith International Military Tribunal in Nuremberg markings. Announcement of death penalty for Jews captured outside the Ghetto and for Poles helping Jews, November 1941

Support from outside the Ghetto was limited, but Polish Resistance units from Armia Krajowa(AK) (the Home Army) and Polish Communist Gwardia Ludowa( GL) (the People's Guard) attacked German units near the ghetto walls and attempted to smuggle weapons, ammunition, supplies and instructions into the ghetto. 

Polish resistance also provided the insurgents with a limited number of badly needed weapons and ammunitions from its meager stocks. Jewish fighters from the Jewish Military Union (?ZW) received only from the National Security Corps (PKB) underground police force: 2 heavy machine guns, 4 light machine guns, 21 submachine guns, 30 rifles, 50 pistols, and over 400 grenades. AK also disseminated information and appeals to help the Jews in the ghetto, both in Poland and by way of radio transmissions to the Allies. SeveralJewish Combat Organization (?OB) commanders and fighters later escaped through the sewers with assistance from the Poles and joined Polish underground.

The Polish AK unit, the PKB, under the command of Henryk Iwa?ski ("Bystry"), fought inside the Ghetto along with ?ZW. Subsequently, both groups retreated together (including 34 Jewish fighters) to the so-called Aryanside. Although Iwa?ski's action is the most well-known rescue mission, it was only one of many actions undertaken by the Polish resistance to help the Jewish fighters. Participation of the Polish underground in the uprising was confirmed by a report of the German commander Jürgen Stroop, who reported:

"When we invaded the Ghetto for the first time, the Jews and the Polish bandits succeeded in repelling the participating units, including tanks and armored cars, by a well-prepared concentration of fire. (...) The main Jewish battle group, mixed with Polish bandits, had already retired during the first and second day to the so-called Muranowski Square. There, it was reinforced by a considerable number of Polish bandits. Its plan was to hold the Ghetto by every means in order to prevent us from invading it. (...) Time and again Polish bandits found refuge in the Ghetto and remained there undisturbed, since we had no forces at our disposal to comb out this maze. (...) One such battle group succeeded in mounting a truck by ascending from a sewer in the so-called Prosta [Street], and in escaping with it (about 30 to 35 bandits). ... The bandits and Jews - there were Polish bandits among these gangs armed with carbines, small arms, and in one case a light machine gun - mounted the truck and drove away in an unknown direction." —Jürgen Stroop Stroop Report 1943

In her book On Both Sides of the Wall, Vladka Meed, who was a member of the Warsaw Ghetto underground, devotes a chapter to the lack of support from the Polish resistance. She states, “We knew that the Polish underground had secret caches of weapons. Mikolai was in touch with the leaders of the Polish underground, ‘They keep making promises!’ he told me again and again. We are urged to be patient.... Often, we wondered why, in spite of our willingness to pay generously, the underground refused to help us. However, our contacts with the Poles were tenuous and often came to grief; many times we were sold out.” 

]Nazi forces

Ultimately, the efforts of the Jewish resistance fighters proved insufficient against the German forces. The Germans eventually committed an average daily force of 2,090 well-armed troops, including 821 Waffen-SS Panzergrenadier troops (consisting of five SS reserve and trainingbattalions and one SS cavalry reserve and training battalion), as well as 363 Polish Blue Policemen, who were ordered by the Germans to cordon the walls of the Ghetto.

Two Askaris (i.e. Soviets in German service) peer into a doorway past the bodies of Jews killed during the suppression of the uprising.
Stroop Report original caption: "Askaris used during the operation."

The other forces were drawn from the Ordnungspolizei (Orpo) "uniformed order police" (battalions from theregiments 22rd and 23rd), the SS Sicherheitsdienst (SD) "security service", Warsaw Gestapo, one battalion each from two Wehrmacht railroad combat engineers regiments, a battery of Wehrmacht anti-aircraft artillery(and one field gun), a battalion of Ukrainian Trawniki-Männer from the Final Solution training camp Trawniki,Lithuanian and Latvian auxiliary policemen known by the nickname Askaris (Latvian Arajs Kommando and Lithuanian Saugumas), and technical emergency corps.

Polish fire brigade personnel were ordered to help in the operation. In addition, a number of criminals and executioners from the nearby Gestapo Pawiak prison, under the command of Franz Bürkl, volunteered to "hunt the Jews". Most of the remaining Jewish policemen were executed by the Gestapo, or used in the offensive and then subsequently executed as well.

January 1943 rebellion

On January 18, 1943, the Germans began their second deportation of the Jews, which led to the first instance of armed insurgency within the ghetto. While Jewish families hid in their "bunkers", the ?ZW, joined by elements of the ?OB, fighters engaged the Germans in two direct clashes

Even though the ?ZW and ?OB suffered heavy losses (including some of the leaders), the Germans also took casualties, and the deportation was halted within a few days. 5,000 Jews were removed instead of the 8,000 as planned by Globocnik. There were hundreds of people in the Warsaw ghetto ready to fight, adults and even children, sparsely armed with handguns, gasoline bottles and a few other weapons that had been smuggled into the ghetto by the resistance fighters.

Two resistance organizations, the ?ZW and ?OB, then took control of the Ghetto. They built dozens of fighting posts and executed collaborators, including Jewish Police officers, members of German-sponsored and controlled ?agiew organization, as well as the Gestapoagents (like Judenrat member Dr Alfred Nossig on 22 February 1943). The ?OB established a prison to hold and execute traitors and collaborators. Józef Szery?ski, the former head of the Jewish Ghetto Police, committed suicide.

German assault

On April 19, 1943, on the eve of Passover, the police and SS auxiliary forces entered the Ghetto planning to complete their Action within three days. However, they suffered losses as they were repeatedly ambushed by Jewish insurgents, who aggressively fired and threw Molotov cocktails and hand grenades at them from alleyways, sewers and windows. Two German vehicles: a French-made Lorraine 37Larmoured fighting vehicle and an armoured car were set on fire by ?OB petrol bombs, and the German advance was bogged down.

Photo from Nowolipie Street. In the back one can see (from the left) townhouses at Nowolipie 32 (fragment), 30 and 28. Possibly second from right is Josef Blösche. Similar picture at [Stroop report original caption: "Jewish Rabbis". Picture taken at Nowolipie street, between Smocza and Karmelicka street. On the right visible building at Nowolipie 34. Stroop Report original caption: "Smoking out the Jews and Bandits". Stroop Report original caption: "A patrol." SS men on Nowolipie street of Warsaw Ghetto during the uprising. Buildings in the image from the right: Nowolipie 50a, then 52, 54 and wall of the townhouse nr. 56. The original German caption reads: "Forcibly pulled out of dug-outs". Captured Jews are led by German soldiers to the assembly point for deportation. Picture taken at Nowolipie street looking East, near intersection with Smocza street. On the right townhouse at Nowolipie 63 further the ghetto wall with a gate. On the left burning balcony of the townhouse Nowolipie 66. Jewish IDs can be found here at  Surrounded by heavily armed guards,SS-Brigadeführer Jürgen Stroop (center) watches housing blocks burn. SDRottenführer at right is possibly Josef Blösche ("Frankenstein"). Picture taken at Nowolipie street looking East, near intersection with Smocza street. On the left burning balcony of the townhouse Nowolipie 66, next to it ghetto wall.
Stroop Report original caption: "The leader of the grand operation."

As the battle continued inside the Ghetto, Polish resistance groups AK and GL engaged the Germans between April 19 and April 23 at six different locations outside the ghetto walls, firing at German sentries and positions. In one attack, three cell units of AK under the command of Captain Józef Pszenny ("Chwacki") tried to breach the Ghetto walls with explosives, but the Germans repulsed this attack.

Following von Sammern-Frankenegg's failure to contain the revolt, he lost his post as the SS and policecommander of Warsaw. He was replaced by SS-Brigadeführer Jürgen Stroop, who rejected von Sammern-Frankenegg's proposal to call in bomber aircraft from Kraków and proceeded with a better-organized ground assault.

The longest-lasting defense of a position took place around the ?ZW stronghold at Muranowski Square from April 19 to late April. In the afternoon of April 19, two boys climbed up on the roof of the headquarters of the Jewish Resistance there and raised two flags: the red-and-white Polish flag and the blue-and-white banner of the ?ZW (blue and white are the colors of the Flag of Israel today). These flags were well-seen from the Warsaw streets, and the Jews managed to hold off the Germans for four entire days in their attempts to remove them. Stroop recalled:

The matter of the flags was of great political and moral importance. It reminded hundreds of thousands of the Polish cause, it excited them and unified the population of the General Government, but especially Jews and Poles. Flags and national colors are a means of combat exactly like a rapid-fire weapon, like thousands of such weapons. We all knew that - Heinrich HimmlerKrüger, and Hahn. TheReichsfuehrer [Himmler] bellowed into the phone: "Stroop, you must at all costs bring down those two flags."

Another German armoured vehicle was destroyed in a Jewish counterattack, in which ?ZW commander Dawid Moryc Apfelbaum was also killed. After Stroop's ultimatum to surrender was rejected by the defenders, the Nazis resorted to systematically burning houses block by block using flamethrowers and blowing up basements and sewers. "We were beaten by the flames, not the Germans," resistance leader Marek Edelmansaid in 2007. In 2003, he recalled:

The sea of flames flooded houses and courtyards.... There was no air, only black, choking smoke and heavy burning heat radiating form (sic) the red-hot walls, from the glowing stone stairs.

The ?ZW lost all its leaders and, on April 29, 1943, the remaining fighters escaped the ghetto through theMuranowski tunnel, and relocated to the Michalin forest. This event marked the end of the organized resistance, and of significant fighting.

German sentries with aMaschinengewehr 08machine gun at one of the gates to the ghetto. Original Caption read "Measures for covering a street." (view on Nowolipie street near Smocza street).

The remaining Jewish civilians and surviving fighters took cover in the bunker dugouts which were hidden among the ruins of the Ghetto. The German troops used dogs to look for the hideouts. Smoke grenadestear gas and reportedly even poison gas were used to force people out. In many instances, the Jewish fighters came out of their hiding places and shot at the Germans, while a number of female fighters lobbed hidden grenades or fired concealed handguns at the Germans after they had surrendered. Small groups of Jewish insurgents attacked German patrols at night. However, German casualties were mostly minimal after the first few days of the uprising.

On May 8, 1943, the Germans discovered the ?OB's main command post, located at Mi?a 18 Street. Most of its leadership and dozens of remaining fighters were killed, while others committed mass suicide by ingestingcyanide. The dead included the organization's commander, Mordechaj Anielewicz. His deputy, Edelman, escaped through the sewers on May 10 with a handful of comrades. Two days later, the Bundist Szmul Zygielbojm committed suicide in London in protest, citing a lack of assistance for the insurgents on the part of Western governments:

I cannot continue to live and to be silent while the remnants of Polish Jewry, whose representative I am, are being murdered. My comrades in the Warsaw ghetto fell with arms in their hands in the last heroic battle. I was not permitted to fall like them, together with them, but I belong with them, to their mass grave. By my death, I wish to give expression to my most profound protest against the inaction in which the world watches and permits the destruction of the Jewish people.

The suppression of the uprising officially ended on May 16, 1943. Nevertheless, sporadic resistance continued. The last skirmish took place on June 5, 1943 between Germans and a holdout group of armed insurgents without connection to the resistance groups.

Death toll

13,000 Jews were killed in the ghetto during the uprising (some 6,000 among them were burnt alive or died from smoke inhalation). Of the remaining 50,000 residents, most were captured and shipped to concentration and extermination camps, in particular to Treblinka.

Jürgen Stroop's internal SS daily report for Friedrich Krüger, written on May 16, 1943, stated:

180 Jews, bandits and sub-humans, were destroyed. The former Jewish quarter of Warsaw is no longer in existence. The large-scale action was terminated at 20:15 hours by blowing up the Warsaw Synagogue. (...) Total number of Jews dealt with 56,065, including both Jews caught and Jews whose extermination can be proved. (...) Apart from 8 buildings (police barracks, hospital, and accommodations for housing working-parties) the former Ghetto is completely destroyed. Only the dividing walls are left standing where no explosions were carried out.

On May 24, 1943 Stroop reported 621 bunkers had been destroyed.

According to the Stroop's report (both causality lists and separate daily reports), his forces suffered 17 killed in action (16 listed by name) and 93 wounded (86 of them listed by name); these figures included over 60 members of Waffen-SS, and did not include the Jewish collaborators).

The real number of German losses, however, may be well higher if unknown (by Edelman's estimate about 300 casualties). For the propagandapurposes, official German casualties were announced to be only a few wounded, while bulletins of the Polish Underground State claimed that hundreds of Nazis died in the fighting.

German daily losses and the official figures for killed or captured Jews and "bandits", according to the Stroop report:

  • 19 April --- 1 killed, 24 wounded ---- 580 captured
  • 20 April --- 3 killed, 10 wounded ---- 533 captured
  • 21 April --- 0 killed, 5 wounded --- 5,200 captured
  • 22 April --- 3 killed, 1 wounded --- 6,580 captured + 203 "Jews and bandits" killed + 35 Poles killed outside the Ghetto
  • 23 April --- 0 killed, 3 wounded --- 4,100 captured + 200 "Jews and bandits" killed + 3 Jews captured outside the Ghetto. Total of 19,450 Jews reported caught
  • 24 April --- 0 killed, 3 wounded --- 1,660 captured + 1,811 "pulled out of dugouts, about 330 shot"
  • 25 April --- 0 killed, 4 wounded --- 1,690 captured + 274 shot + "very large portion of the bandits...captured". Total of 27,464 Jews caught
  • 26 April --- 0 killed, 0 wounded --- 1,722 captured + 1,330 "destroyed"+ 362 Jews shot. 30 Jews "displaced". Total of 29,186 Jews captured.
  • 27 April --- 0 killed, 4 wounded --- 2,560 captured of whom 547 shot + 24 Polish "bandits killed in battle" + 52 Polish "bandits" arrested. Total of 31,746 Jews caught
  • 28 April --- 0 killed, 3 wounded --- 1,655 captured of whom 110 killed + 10 "bandits" killed and 9 "arrested". Total of 33,401 Jews caught
  • 29 April --- 0 killed 0 wounded ---- 2,359 captured of whom 106 killed
  • 30 April --- 0 killed 0 wounded ---- 1,599 captured of whom 179 killed. Total of 37,359 Jews caught
  • 1 May ---- 2 killed, 2 wounded ----- 1,026 captured of whom 245 killed. Total of 38,385 Jews caught + 150 killed outside Ghetto
  • 2 May ---- 0 killed, 7 wounded ----- 1,852 captured and 235 killed. Total of 40,237 Jews caught
  • 3 May ---- 0 killed, 3 wounded ----- 1,569 captured and 95 killed. Total of 41,806 Jews caught
  • 4 May ---- 0 killed, 0 wounded ----- 2,238 captured of whom 204 shot. Total of 44,089 Jews caught
  • 5 May ---- 0 killed, 2 wounded ----- 2,250 captured
  • 6 May ---- 2 killed, 1 wounded ----- 1,553 captured + 356 shot
  • 7 May ---- 0 killed, 1 wounded ----- 1,109 captured + 255 shot. Total of 45,342 Jews caught
  • 8 May ---- 3 killed, 3 wounded ----- 1,091 captured and 280 killed + 60 "heavily armed bandits" caught
  • 9 May ---- 0 killed, 0 wounded ----- 1,037 "Jews and bandits" caught and 319 "bandits and Jews" shot. Total of 51,313 Jews caught + 254 "Jews and bandits" shot outside Ghetto
  • 10 May --- 0 killed, 4 wounded ---- 1,183 caught and 187 "bandits and Jews" shot. Total of 52,693 Jews caught
  • 11 May --- 1 killed, 2 wounded ------- 931 "Jews and bandits" caught and 53 "bandits" shot. Total of 53,667 Jews caught
  • 12 May --- 0 killed, 1 wounded ------- 663 caught and 133 shot. Total of 54,463 Jews caught
  • 13 May --- 2 killed, 4 wounded ------- 561 caught and 155 shot. Total of 55,179 Jews caught
  • 14 May --- 0 killed, 5 wounded ------- 398 caught and 154 "Jews and bandits" shot. Total of 55,731 Jews caught
  • 15 May --- 0 killed, 1 wounded --------- 87 caught and 67 "bandits and Jews" shot. Total of 56,885 Jews caught
  • 16 May --- 0 killed, 0 wounded ------- 180 "Jews, bandits and subhumans" "Destroyed". Total of 57,065 Jews either captured or killed.


Former Ghetto under continued Nazi occupation

After the uprising, most of the incinerated houses were completely razed, and the Warsaw concentration camp complex was established in their place. Thousands of people died in the camp or were executed in the ruins of the ghetto. At the same time, the SS were hunting down the remaining Jews still hiding in the ruins. On April 19, 1943, the first day of the most significant period of the resistance, 7,000 Jews were transported from the Warsaw Ghetto to Treblinka extermination camp,  where purportedly they developed again into resistance groups, and then planned and executed an uprising.

In 1944, during the general Warsaw Uprising, the AK battalion Zo?ka was able to rescue 380 Jewish concentration camp prisoners from the G?siówka sub-camp, most of whom immediately joined AK and fought in the Polish uprising. A few small groups of Ghetto inhabitants also managed to survive in the underground sewer system.

Fate of the Germans involved

In October 1943 Bürkl, as "a sadist and a mass murderer", was convicted of crimes against the Polish nation by the Polish Resistance's Special Courts, sentenced to death, and shot dead on the street of Warsaw in Operation Bürkl, a part of Operation Heads. In the same month, von Sammern-Frankenegg was killed by Yugoslav partisan ambush in Croatia.

Globocnik, Himmler, and Krüger all followed Adolf Hitler and committed suicide in May 1945.

Stroop was convicted of war crimes in two different trials and executed by hanging in Poland in 1952 (his aide Erich Steidtmann was exonerated for "minimal involvement"; he died in 2010 while under investigation for war crimes). Hahn went into hiding until 1975, when he was apprehended and sentenced to life for crimes against humanity; he died in prison in 1986.

Relation to 1944 Warsaw Uprising Main article: Warsaw Uprising

The Warsaw Ghetto Uprising of 1943 took place over a year before the Warsaw Uprising of 1944. The Ghetto had been totally destroyed by the time of the Warsaw uprising, which was part of the larger Operation Tempest. Hundreds of the survivors from the first uprising took part in the 1944 Warsaw Uprising, fighting in the ranks of Armia Krajowa and Armia Ludowa.

The Warsaw kneeling Monument to the Ghetto Heroes in Warsaw in 2006 Main article: Warschauer Kniefall

On December 7, 1970, West German Chancellor Willy Brandt spontaneously knelt while visiting a monument to the Uprising in the former People's Republic of Poland. At the time, the action surprised many and was the focus of controversy, but it has since been credited with helping improve relations between the NATO and Warsaw Pact countries.

Remembrance in Israel

A number of survivors of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, known as the "Ghetto Fighters," went on to found Kibbutz Lohamey ha-Geta'ot (literally: "Ghetto Fighters' Kibbutz"), which is located north of Acre. The founding members of the kibbutz include Yitzhak Zuckerman, ?OB deputy commander, and his wife Zivia Lubetkin, who also commanded a fighting unit. In 1984, the members of the kibbutz published Dapei Edut ("Testimonies of Survival"), four volumes of personal testimonies from 96 kibbutz members. The settlement also features a museum and archives dedicated to remembering the Holocaust.

Yad Mordechai, another kibbutz just north of the Gaza Strip, was named after Mordechaj Anielewicz.

In 2008, Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi led a group of IDF officials to the site of uprising and spoke about the event's "importance for IDF combat soldiers.

“The Last Battle in The Great Tragedy” (April 29, 1943)

...A week ago the second stage began in the brutal annihilation of the Polish Jews. The Germans set about expelling the 40,000 Jews who still remained in Warsaw.

The ghetto replied with armed struggle. The Jewish Fighting Organization opened a war of the weak against the strong. With scant forces, few arms and little ammunition, without water, blinded by smoke and fire, the Jewish fighters defended streets and individual houses.

In the dusk they withdrew step by step, more because of the fire that had taken hold in the close-built houses than because of the enemy who was equipped with modern military arms. They considered it a victory if a part of those imprisoned in the ghetto were able to escape; it was a victory in their eyes to die while their hands still grasped arms..

* From the Underground AK newspaper Biuletyn Informacyjny ("Information Bulletin"), No. 17, April 29, 1943.

Fate of the Germans Involved

Fate of the Germans involved

In October 1943 Bürkl, as "a sadist and a mass murderer", was convicted of crimes against the Polish nation by the Polish Resistance'sSpecial Courts, sentenced to death, and shot dead on the street of Warsaw in Operation Bürkl, a part of Operation Heads. In the same month, von Sammern-Frankenegg was killed by Yugoslav partisan ambush in Croatia.

Globocnik, Himmler, and Krüger all followed Adolf Hitler and committed suicide in May 1945.

Stroop was convicted of war crimes in two different trials and executed by hanging in Poland in 1952 (his aide Erich Steidtmann was exonerated for "minimal involvement"; he died in 2010 while under investigation for war crimes). Hahn went into hiding until 1975, when he was apprehended and sentenced to life for crimes against humanity; he died in prison in 1986.

November 15, 1914 – July 25, 2010

Erich Steidtmann 

(November 15, 1914 – July 25, 2010)

Was a Nazi SS officer believed to have been involved in the liquidation of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, the largest single revolt by the Jews during the Holocaust, the bulk of which occurred from April 19 until May 16, 1943, ending when the resistance was crushed by German troops under the direct command of Jürgen Stroop. Efforts were being undertaken by German prosecutors in the months before his death to prosecute Steidtmann for his involvement in war crimes.



Josef “Andzi” Szerynski

Josef “Andzi” Szerynski

Szerynski was a Jew-hating Proselyte appointed by Adam Czerniakow as head of the Jewish Police. He was caught smuggling furs that should have been confiscated and was arrested by the Gestapo, but was released before the Great Aktzia.

During the Aktzia, he was seriously injured by Israel Kanal, a member of the Jewish Fighting Organization, who had been sent to assassinate him. After the assassination attempt, Szerynski escaped from the ghetto and hid in the Polish sector. He committed suicide during the minor uprising in January 1943.

Commanders of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising


  • April 19-May 19, 1943

Goebbels on the Ghetto Revolt

There is nothing sensational in the reports from the Occupied Territories. The only thing noteworthy is exceptionally sharp fighting in Warsaw between our Police, and in part even the Wehrmacht, and the Jewish rebels.

The Jews have actually succeeded in putting the ghetto in a condition to defend itself. Some very hard battles are taking place there, which have gone so far that the Jewish top leadership publishes daily military reports. Of course this jest will probably not last long.

But it shows what one can expect of the Jews if they have arms. Unfortunately they also have some good German weapons in part, particularly machine-guns. Heaven only knows how they got hold of them.

Paul Joseph Goebbels 

(German: [??œb?ls]; 29 October 1897 – 1 May 1945)

Was a Germanpolitician and Reich Minister of Propaganda in Nazi Germany from 1933 to 1945. As one ofAdolf Hitler's closest associates and most devout followers, he was known for his zealousoratory and anti-Semitism. He played a hand in the Kristallnacht attack on the German Jews, which many historians consider to be the beginning of the Final Solution, leading to the Holocaust.

  • 29 October 1897 – 1 May 1945

“The Greatest Crime in The World” (April 30, 1943)

..Now that Warsaw has witnessed the last act of the bestial German action, we cannot simply pass over the change in attitude of the victims, who, being unable to change their fate, decided to fall with arms in their hands.

This stand of theirs, understood by every Pole, changes the picture significantly. From a people without hope, a herd slaughtered by the German murderers, the Jews rose to the heights of a fighting people. And if it could not fight for its existence – a thing made impossible by the overwhelming advantage in numbers of the enemy – it did demonstrate its right to life as a nation.

The Polish public looks upon this happening with great respect, gives it its moral support and hopes that its resistance will continue for as long as is possible....

* From the Underground newspaper Mysl Panstwowa ("State Thought"), No. 37, April 30, 1943.

  • April 30, 1943

Himmler Orders the Destruction of the Warsaw Ghetto (February 16, 1943)

Reichsfuehrer SS Field Command

Journal No. 38/33/43 g. February 16, 1943




Higher SS and Police Leader (Hoeher SS- und Polizeifuehrer), East SS Obergruppenfuehrer Krueger, Cracow

For reasons of security I herewith order that the Warsaw ghetto be pulled down after the concentration camp has been moved: all parts of houses that can be used, and other materials of all kinds, are first to be made use of.

The razing of the ghetto and the relocation of the concentration camp are necessary, as otherwise we would probably never establish quiet in Warsaw, and the prevalence of crime cannot be stamped out as long as the ghetto remains.

An overall plan for the razing of the ghetto is to be submitted to me. In any case we must achieve the disappearance from sight of the living-space for 500,000 sub-humans (Untermenschen) that has existed up to now, but could never be suitable for Germans, and reduce the size of this city of millions – Warsaw – which has always been a center of corruption and revolt. 

signed H. Himmler

Heinrich Himmler


Classified British intelligence documents released by London indicated Himmler sought to win asylum for himself and 200 leading Nazis in the final days of World War II by offering cash and the freedom of 3,500 Jews held in concentration camps. According to the documents, the concentration camp inmates were to be sent to Switzerland in two trainloads (JTA, 9/21/99).

  • February 16, 1943

Dr. Emanuel Ringelblum (1900-1944)

Dr. Emanuel Ringelblum (1900-1944), one of the leaders of the Anti-Fascist Bloc in the Warsaw ghetto, organized the underground ghetto archives. His Notes from the Warsaw Ghetto gave detailed accounts of daily events and conditions. He was murdered by the Gestapo in March, 1944. 

The most comprehensive effort to document ghetto life was undertaken in the Warsaw ghetto by a group of several dozen writers, teachers, rabbis, and historians led by Dr. Emmanuel Ringelblum in a secret operation code-named Oneg Shabbat (Hebrew for "Sabbath delight").

They wrote diaries, collected documents, commissioned papers, and preserved the posters and decrees that comprised the memory of the doomed community. They had no illusions. Their only hope was that the memory of the Warsaw ghetto would endure.

On the eve of the ghetto's destruction in the spring of 1943, when all seemed lost, the archive was placed in three milk cans and some metal boxes and buried in the cellars of several Warsaw buildings. The first containers were found in 1946, while the milk can in the photograph was unearthed on December 1, 1950, at 68 Nowolipki Street.

It contained copies of several underground newspapers, a narrative of deportations from the Warsaw ghetto, and public notices by the Judenrat (the council of Jewish leaders established on German orders).

Despite repeated searches, the rest of the archive, including the third milk can, was never found.

Three of the ten metal boxes and two milk cans in which Dr. Emanuel Ringelblum hid documents and materials to preserve for future generations detailed information about life in the Warsaw ghetto. In September, 1946, the metal boxes were discovered under the ruins of a house. In December, 1950, the milk cans with the second part of the archives were recovered. These materials and documents are now in the Jewish Historical Institute in Warsaw. 

  • 1900-1944

Ferdinand von Sammern-Frankenegg (d. 1943)

SS Oberführer (senior colonel) Ferdinand von Sammern-Frankenegg was the commander of the Warsaw area beginning in 1941, and was in charge of the Aktzia of January 18, 1943, and the first offensive in the Warsaw Ghetto on April 19, 1943. He was replaced by Jurgen Stroop following the unsuccessful morning offensive.

Sammern-Frankenegg was court-martialed on April 24, 1943, and found guilty of defending Jews. After the trial, he was transferred to Croatia and was killin a partisan ambush near the city of Klasznic on September 20, 1943.


An announcement which forbids entrance to the Warsaw ghetto under punishment of death. It was posted several days after the beginning of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising.

Janina Bauman, née Lewinson

Janina Bauman was interviewed at the Second World War Experience Centre in 1999. Her story is featured here in recognition of the Jewish Warsaw Ghetto and the subsequent uprising.

Janina Bauman, née Lewinson, was born in Warsaw in 1926. Her family was Jewish, though not particularly religious, and they lived outside the Jewish area of the city.

Janina's father was a surgeon and a Polish Army reservist. He was attached to a military hospital during the German invasion, was captured by the Red Army and taken to Kozielsk, officers' camp. His family received just one letter before he was killed in the Katyn Forest massacre.

When the Siege of Warsaw began on the 1st September 1939, Janina remembers having to shelter in the cellar from the constant bombing and shelling. By the end of the month, Warsaw was defeated and she soon saw German troops marching along the street.

'[we had been denoted as Jews] since I was just 13. I had to wear a band, a white band with a blue star. It started at 13 and I was just that. My sister was still not obliged to wear it, she was just nine.'

'... we already knew what was going on, what had been done in Germany to the Jews before the war, and we expected something awful to happen to us and we expected all the time that we would be locked in a Ghetto. It was not sure.

There were rumours during the first months ... everybody feared it, and some people tried, some Jews tried to run away to the other side, to the Russians. It was not so hard to get through the 'Green Border'. So some people ran away but we stayed. We didn't run. My grandmother was seriously ill. We couldn't move.'

Janina, her mother and her sister Sophie were forced to move into the Jewish Ghetto. They spent 26 months there. At the beginning it was not too bad for them. Although they lived in a very small and crowded flat without a bathroom and the food was in short supply, the girls could continue with their education attending lessons with little circles of other girls working with teachers in their private homes. It had to be kept secret since secondary education was forbidden in occupied Poland.

'On my way to the classes, which took place in one of the girls' flat, I walked along the street strewn with dying people and with corpses lying on the pavements covered with newspapers, held down with bricks. There were thousands of people in the Ghetto who were homeless. Usually they were people who were brought by force to the Ghetto from small villages and small towns around Warsaw.

These people had nowhere to live and had nothing, so they lived in the streets begging for food and died on the pavements from starvation and infectious diseases such as typhus. So I walked along the street and I saw these people all the time. Whenever I could I gave some bread to the begging children but yet I must say I got used to it somehow.'

Janina joined 'Toporol', a small agricultural school for young people. Small patches of ground, upon which houses had stood prior to the Warsaw Siege, were made into vegetable plots. The produce was to be given to the Jewish Council's kitchens for the starving. Janina thoroughly enjoyed Toporol, especially being in the fresh air and watching her little plants grow.

Janina. Photograph taken in hiding, spring 1944.

Life began to change. Food became scarce and expensive and Janina spent many days searching for enough food for her family and housemates. Sophie was hit by a heavy German truck whilst crossing the road. She was taken to the busy, overcrowded hospital where she was treated for concussion and injuries to her left eye and foot. Fortunately, she made a good recovery.

The residents of the Ghetto gradually learnt of the fate of those taken to concentration camps. Occasionally someone would escape from 'the transport' and eventually return with this shocking news. Janina cannot remember seeing any Germans in the Ghetto, the aktions of deportation seemed to be worked by Ukrainians, Latvians, the Polish police and the Jewish police.

'The Jewish people they collaborated out of fear, not for pleasure, out of fear. They were always blackmailed by the Germans, "If you don't bring 15 people today, your wife will go and your children and your parents will go. I am not trying to defend them because some of them were really awful... they didn't survive. They all went, only later."

Towards the winter of 1942/43, after the first big 'aktion' of deportment, Janina remembers seeing leaflets calling Jews to fight and defend themselves. The second 'aktion' began in January.

'Young people were preparing themselves to fight. They really believed it and they prepared themselves and later they fought... When the second aktion of deportation began in January there were the first battles. There were young people fighting against the Germans for a very short time, only 6 days. It was meant to finish us I think, but the Germans, they fled after this short fight with the uprisers.'

Janina very much wanted to join these members of the Jewish underground, but had no idea how to contact them. She later approached the AK, the Polish Peoples' Army but was disappointed to learn that Jews were not accepted.

Life was becoming increasingly dangerous in the Ghetto, and on 25 January 1943, Janina, her mother and Sophie escaped with the intention of hiding in the Aryan areas of Warsaw. Their first shelter was with a big family in a large elegant apartment. They were restricted to one heavily carpeted room with heavy curtains at the windows and were not to approach the windows. Food was brought into the room for them and they used the bathroom early in the morning and late at night. The family's cleaning lady was aware that the room was occupied but she never saw them.

Later they stayed with a young couple, very much involved in the Polish Resistance. During daylight hours Janina, her mother and her sister hid behind a wardrobe. It was dark and uncomfortable for three, but their hosts were very kind. They fled when the husband was arrested by Nazis.

'I spent about 2 years hiding on the so-called Aryan side beyond the Ghetto walls. It was, all the time, hiding - running away - looking for somewhere else to hide. I was unbelievably lucky. We were even spotted by a German... it was in the transit camp from Warsaw to other places where we stayed. We were sent to this Pruszkow transit camp and we were spotted as Jews by a German soldier.

Again we were lucky because he wanted to just shoot us on the spot, but then he probably thought he had to ask the permission of his senior, and he left us promising he would be back in a moment to do with us. Suddenly a man appeared, I don't know where from, as from heaven itself. A strong Polish man. He said, "run away with me!" and he took us to a hiding place in the camp and we survived again.'

Still hiding in Warsaw during the Uprising in 1944, Janina became very ill with TB, which she had contracted whilst living in the Ghetto. They were concealed with other families in a cellar, and were most grateful to their neighbours, who were very kind and brought food for them.

Poles in Warsaw were very aware of the progress of the Russian Army and could not understand it's apparent reluctance to invade the Capital. They became used to the constant sounds of guns firing from the far side of the River Vistula, and Janina remembers some people attempting to contact them, swimming across the river.

Sophie and Janina immediately after the war.

After the 1944 uprising, Janina and her family were deported to the South. They found shelter with an old woman and her son, a priest. They remained there until the Russians arrived.

'There was a very short shelling and the Germans went away and the Russians came. On the same night I went to the shed to bring some wood, some timber for the fire... and I saw a German soldier. Not so much him as his coat. I went to my hostess... and told her, reported excitedly -"You have a German!" She said, "very well.

Take him some food, he must be very hungry." I went there and he was invisible. He hid among the wood but when he smelt the food he came out and [he was] a young boy, he was my own age or even younger, frightened to death and terribly hungry. He started eating and I looked at him but I felt nothing. Not hatred, not satisfaction or pity. Nothing ... This incident for me marks the end of the war.'

After the liberation, Janina, her mother and sister returned to Warsaw and lived there for many years. The Red Cross later confirmed her father's death in the Katyn forest. Sophie and her family left for Israel in 1957 with her mother.

Janina worked in the Polish film industry as a translator, researcher and script editor until she left Poland with her husband and three children in 1968 and resettled in England after three years in Israel. She worked as an assistant librarian at a comprehensive school and, on taking early retirement, wrote her biography 'Winter in the Morning', published by Virago (1991) and the story of her life in post-war Warsaw, 'A Dream of Belonging.'


  • 1926

Henry Tylbor, 79, Child Survivor of Ghetto Uprising Obituary

By Lana Gersten

Henry Tylbor, one of the youngest survivors of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising and a survivor of Budzyn and other camps, died February 24 of complications from Parkinson’s disease. He was 79.

After the Uprising: Tylbor traveled, translated books and taught sociology and linguistics.

According to his wife, Wendy Gittler, he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s about 15 years ago.

Born in Warsaw, Tylbor was 13 years old in April 1943, when residents of the Warsaw Ghetto staged an armed revolt against Nazi troops, the largest single revolt by Jews against the Nazis during WorId War II. During the uprising, Tylbor stayed in underground bunkers for nine days. He survived, only to be transported to Auschwitz and satellite camps of the Majdanek concentration camp. Eventually, the French liberated him and his father.

After the war, he separated from his father, with whom he was never close, and resettled in New York, taking odd jobs to make a living. Having spent his teenage years as a peripatetic, having been moved around Europe to different concentration camps, he had a penchant for languages and spoke about 7 fluently. He became interested in linguistics after sitting in on classes of the influential Russian linguist Roman Jakobson at Massachusetts Institute of Technology and was persuaded to study linguistics with Professor A.J. Greimas at the University of Paris.

“He was a polymath,” said Gittler, who added that he took an interest in neuropsychology and was fascinated in particular with problems of aphasia and memory loss.

Tylbor traveled to Europe many more times in the course of his work as a book reviewer, combing bookstores everywhere from France to Turkey in search of foreign books to review for the American publishing companies Basic Books, HarperTorch and Harcourt Brace Jovanovich.

He also translated books, taught sociology and linguistics, and lectured about his Holocaust experiences at universities around the country, including Duke University, Brown University and the University of Pennsylvania. He co-authored an important article on language and culture in the book “Dialogic Emergence of Culture.”

“He had a restless spirit of constant movement, and in that, the desire for constant knowledge. His only real world was his books, because everything else was perishable,” Gittler said. “When we took our trips to Europe, he took an enormous duffel case with him and it was filled with books.”

He is survived by his wife, whom he met in 1976. The couple has no children.

  • 1930~ March 11, 2009

Irena Adamowicz

Irena Adamowicz (Warsaw, 11 May 1910 – died 12 August 1973), was born to a Polish noble family and held a degree in social work from the University of Warsaw before World War II. She served as one of the leaders of the Polish Scout movement (Harcerz Polski) coordinating its activities as a Senior Girl Scout. A Polish Roman Catholic, Adamowicz provided counseling and educational services not only for the Catholic Scouts, but also for the Jewish youth movement called Hashomer Hatzair (Ha-Shomer ha-Tsa'ir) in the 1930s, working in close co-operation with Arie Wilner.

Following the Nazi German invasion of Poland, Adamowicz became a member of the undergroundHome Army (Armia Krajowa) as a clandestine courier. She delivered messages and provided aid and moral support for the Jewish ghettos in several distant cities.

In 1985, Adamowicz was posthumously bestowed the title of the Righteous Among the Nations byYad Vashem in Jerusalem for her heroic stand against the German Nazi Holocaust

Due to her work for both, Polish and Jewish youth before the invasion of Poland, and her close contact with the Jewish Zionist movement, Adamowicz, a devout Christian, was able to come to the aid of Jewish Fighting Organization's efforts to establish a channel of communication between the ghettos of different cities.

At a meeting in Warsaw in late 1941 a decision was made to embark on this perilous effort, by the representatives of AK including Irena Adamowicz and Stanislaw Hajduk, and, on the Jewish side, by Mordechaj AnielewiczIcchak Cukierman, Josef Kaplan and Cywia Lubetkin.

Throughout the summer of 1942 Adamowicz went on a daring trip across Poland and Lithuania to establish contact between clandestine organizations in the ghettos of Warsaw, Wilno (now Vilnius),Bia?ystok, Kovno (now Kaunas) and Shavle (Šiauliai). Her visits became a source of both vital information and moral encouragement, such as her inspirational presence in Kovno Ghetto in July 1942. She earned a Jewish nickname "Di chalutzishe shikse", the Pioneering Gentile.

Following the end of World War II, Adamowicz remained in close contact with the survivors of the Holocaust, with whom she had worked in the Jewish underground. Thanks to their efforts, she was named Righteous among the Nations in 1985. Her personal experience became a part of the book by Bartoszewski and Lewin entitled Righteous Among Nations; How Poles Helped the Jews, 1939–1945

  • 11 May 1910 –12 August 1973

Faces of Desperation

Rubenstein, a popular figure in the Warsaw ghetto in 1941-42, used humor and biting mockery as a way to express the anger and hatred Jews felt toward the Nazis and the ghetto police. 

A very young resident of the Warsaw ghetto in 1941.

A young man in the Warsaw ghetto eats some food. Ration cards allowed ghetto residents only 300 calories of food daily, a small fraction needed for sustaining health.


Tema Schneiderman

forged work document for Tema Schneiderman, who secretly delivered news and ammunition to ghettos. She died in Treblinka

Tema Tanenbaum nee Shneiderman was born in Warsaw in 1919. She was a nurse and married to M.Tanenbaum ( born in 1916). Prior to WWII she lived in Warsaw, Poland. During the war she was in Bialystok, Poland and Vilna. Tema perished in 1943 in Warsaw, Poland. This information is based on a Page of Testimony (displayed on left) submitted by her relative Nina Tanenbaum


Tema Schneiderman, a courier in the Jewish underground in the Bialystok, Vilna and Warsaw ghetto with two of friends before the war

Defiance and Dignity
By Rahel Musleah

Contrary to popular belief, Holocaust victims were far from passive in the face of Nazi abuse, and a new exhibit details how and where they fought back.

Between 1941 and 1943, Tema Schneiderman carried out 20 clandestine missions for the Zionist youth movement Dror (Freedom), shuttling between Vilna, Bialystok and Warsaw with news of mass executions and ammunition for revolt. a In a letter, Tzippora Birman, a member of Dror in the Bialystok Ghetto, wrote about Schneiderman and another courier: "They looked like two charming shikses. Their faces radiated cheerfulness as they brought us new hope, news and regards from other parts of the Movement.... They inspired all of us...."

On January 17, 1943, the 26-year-old Schneiderman was caught and deported to Treblinka, where she was murdered.

  • 1919

Moshe's Story

I was born in 1937. We lived in Warsaw on Vilenska Street. We were a middle class family. My father had a large carpentry shop, and in addition to that, he was a boxer, and even representedPoland on the Polish National Boxing Team.

What I remember from that time period, is that the war started in September, 1939 when I was two and a half years old. In October, the Germans had already evacuated us from our homes into the Ghetto. I saw a swarm of people with suitcases, and I saw that my father and mother’s faces were very sad. That really saddened me as a child.

So my father, mother, and younger sister went to a place which later became the Ghetto. They put us into an apartment in 91 Novolivki Street -- an ugly house, unlike ours. I was always crying because I felt something very bad was happening. I didn’t know exactly what was happening.

In the Ghetto, life was more or less just going on. Really it was ‘less’ than ‘more.’ 


There was a supply of food and water. The Ghetto was very densely populated, however. The streets were filled with people, the apartments were filled with people. People were everywhere -- lying in hallways, entrances to buildings…

I began to feel hungry, and I kept crying to my mother, saying “I’m hungry, I’m hungry.” The Germans had stopped the supply of food to the Ghetto. We had no water apart from one or two hours a day…I don’t know. There were sights of horror –  people looking like skeletons just laying in the streets.



Wagons would come around all the time, and people would just pick them up by the hands and feet and throw them on top of a piled wagon and go. All these things are engraved in my memory. 

I remember one episode when we didn’t have anything to eat in our home. We did have a lot of money, because my father was financially stable. So my mother took me and went to the town market, and this is engraved deeply in my mind. In a dark corner of the market, she found a woman who sold her a quarter of a loaf of bread. The bread was hard as a stone.

My mother said to me, “Take this and chew on it slowly.”  When I brought the bread to my mouth, I noticed in front of me sat an old man like my grandfather, with eyes “popping out.”  I could see that his lips were eating the bread together with me. So I gave the bread to this old man, and my mother yelled at me.  I told her, “Look at this grandfather. He is hungry.” This is one episode I remember well.

 Things just got worse in the Ghetto.…. diseases broke out, mainly typhus. Most of the Ghetto was bed-ridden with sickness.


We also got this typhus, and my father was the one who had it the worst -- probably because he was used to working the hardest and this sickness just paralyzed him. 

My mother said she needed to do something. So she put on a pair of trousers, which wasn’t acceptable back then, and at night she climbed over the wall to the Polish side, trying to find food.

In one of the neighborhoods, a few young men ganged up on her, and started to shout “Jewish woman, Jewish woman.”

She began running from them, and out of one of the alleyways came a 19 year old guy. His name was Zigmunt Pientak, and he shouted to the guys who were chasing her, “Leave her alone, she is not Jewish, she lives here.”

He said to my mother, “What are you doing?”

She said, “I don’t care about anything, I need to get food.”

So this Zigmunt Pientak, 19 years old, went to his mother, who worked in the market, and came back with potatoes and cabbage, which he gave to my mother. He then saw her back to the Ghetto.

My mother told Zigmunt where we were living, and that my father was one of the champion boxers, He was very impressed because it was a big thing back then, and -- believe me  --even today it will impress Polish people.

So  Zigmunt Pientak promised that he would come to the Ghetto and bring us food. And so he did. He would always bring potatoes and cabbage, and my mom would cook, and I think this was how we were saved from the typhus, There was no hygiene, but at least there was food.

Another episode – the Ghetto began to prepare for rebellion. As a child I started to notice how everything became secret and quiet. People whispered among themselves. And so I understood that something was happening, I didn’t know what exactly.

I could tell from the atmosphere that something was happening. My father was very serious. He would disappear for awhile and then come back.

One day, my father called me. He opened up my coat, tied something around my waist, closed up my coat, and said, “Moshe, go over to the other side. ‘Uncle’ will give you a candy, but don’t stop on the way.”

I so believed in my father that I went without hesitation and didn’t stop.

‘Uncle’ opened up my coat, took something from my waist, put something else on, and said, “Go to your father.”

This would happen a few times a day; and my mother would shout at my father, “What are you doing?  Why are you putting the child in danger?”

He told her, “Quiet. Everyone is participating.”   


Zigmunt Pientak tells about one day when he came to bring us food. My father said to him, “You need to bring weapons – a pistol or a rifle.” Zigmunt said, “It would be hard to bring a rifle. How would I walk with it?”

“So bring a pistol,” my father said.

Zigmunt bought the gun with money my father gave him and brought it to the Ghetto.

In one of the meetings with Zigmunt, my father said, “Zigmunt, look for a family that could receive us on the Polish side. I will pay whatever is needed.”


My brother Shmuel was born in 1942 under the floor.  People who were hiding with us wanted to kill him, to strangle him, because he was crying. My mother didn’t have milk, and so all she gave him was a wet cloth. She didn’t sleep, and she said to my father, “I must move him to the Polish side.”

Shmuel wasn’t circumcised, so they wrote a note to put with him, with the name Staniswav Pomorski. My mother went at night over the wall.  Zigmunt was waiting for her on the other side. They put him in a cushion, and placed him at the corner of the street. Then they waited and watched.

In the morning, a Polish policeman came by and saw the child, while they were standing to the side, and asked, “Whose child is this?”

No one answered. So the policeman brought the child to the Orphan’s Home for babies. They received him there, and that was that. My mother came back to us. My mom, Regina Kenigswain, gave him a safe place – a safe haven -- in order to save him.


                                  Regina Kenigswain  (Photo courtesy of Moshe Tirosh)


Zigmunt came back one day and said that there was a family living on Karankova Street, which was exactly in front of the Ghetto on the Polish side. He said that for a certain amount of money, they were willing to receive us.

My father said, “Okay, we will pay whatever is needed.”

At night, they put Stefcha, my sister who’s two years younger than me, and myself into a sack, together with another six bags containing some junk-yard stuff. Zigmunt managed to get a type of prumantka – a cart and horse. My mother and father went over the wall in the dark of night, and we traveled to Karankova Street .


(After a few weeks, the Polish landlady began to fear for her life and ordered Moshe’s family out of the house).

The Germans would kill the whole family without asking many questions, if they found that you were helping the Jews.  Now, in the middle of Warsaw , in the most difficult time, we didn’t know what to do. My father said to my mother, “Let’s try the Zoo.”

We had great connections with the Zoo through Grandpa Sobol. He would sell fruits and vegetables to the Zoo.

Once again, Zigmunt Pientak assisted us. His mission was to hire a “Roshka”.  A Roshka is a kind of carriage with a hood. No one wanted to drive us. Finally, someone agreed for a good sum of money, but on the condition that Zygmunt would sit at the driver’s side.

We approached Kirveza bridge, over the Wisla River . Bridges were strategic places guarded by the Germans. At the bridge, a German came out and shouted, “Halt!”

Father anticipated this and told Zygmunt to pour some vodka on the horse and the carriage. It was getting dark and it started to rain. The German smelled the vodka and said, “Polish pigs, go away!”

He took us for drunks and let us pass. The same happened on the other side of the bridge and we finally reached the zoo on the other side of the Wisla.

Antonina Zabinska who was the wife of Jan Zabinski, the zookeeper, received us -- me and my sister. This was in October or November of 1942.t The Warsaw Zoo

In October or November of 1942, it was raining all the time. So the Zabinski’s  brought me and my sister Stefcha to the basement of their villa. The gave my mother and father pieces of fur and allowed them to stay in the animal cages.

I don’t remember much from our time there, but I do remember when Antonina started to wash and scrub our heads with a chemical that would make us look Aryan.

She used bleach in order to dye our heads blond. However, she scrubbed too much and we ended up with red hair. Then someone said that we came out looking like squirrels, and this became our undercover name. We were the squirrels.

We didn’t stay at the zoo for long. The Zabinski’s had a maid who was very anti-Semitic, and didn’t want the Jews to be helped. So there was always a danger that she would deliver us to the Germans.

Later on, I found out that there was a big rescue operation going on at the zoo. At the time, however, I thought we were the only ones hiding there.

I remember Rys. He was four or five years older then me. So, in 1942 I was about five years old, and he must have been about ten years old. He and his mom, Antonina, would bring us our food. We would look horrible because we always suffered from hunger.

We never went outside. We knew very well what it meant to be “underground” and we realized we had to be quiet because of the danger. I understood it very well by then.

We would just stay in the basement the whole time. We sat there quietly, and we didn’t make any noise, didn’t cry, nothing.  We didn’t play, but passed the time sleeping. It was all very serious.

                  Moshe's beloved mother Regina and father Shmuel Kenigswain in 1947.

Moshe’s childhood odyssey would lead him to southern Polandby the end of the war.

Of the 300 Jewish men, women, and children who found temporary safe haven at the Warsaw Zoo, only Dr. Roza Anzelowna and her mother did not survive the Holocaust.

They were arrested by the Gestapo in a boarding house on Widok Street.

As to why Jan Zabinski risked his life and the lives of his family to save hundreds of others in grave peril, he said,  

“It was the right thing to do.”

  • 1937

Claire Soria

 Holocaust survivor Claire Soria holds the birthday gift she treasures, given to her by her father who died in Auschwitz. (photo by Gary Lester)

My name is Claire Soria and I was five years old when the war started. My dad was a tailor who ran a workshop where they sewed beautiful dresses and coats.

I attended kindergarten, played with the school children, and enjoyed going to school. On weekends, we would go to the park with my cousins and my Aunt Dora. Sometimes, we would walk through the woods. We enjoyed listening to music on the record player, and everyone listened to the news on the radio.

When I was six years old, my dad gave me a sewing basket. He wrote inside, “To my daughter, Clara, on her 6th birthday. Your dad, Nathan.”  My mother put pictures of her family in Poland in the sewing box, as well as pictures we took of our family.

We had a balcony where we lived, and we enjoyed watching parades. Then one day, I remember going out on the balcony and seeing and hearing the thumping of endless rows of German soldiers marching down the street. They were followed by tanks.

At that moment, my world changed.

My family was told to sew a Jewish star on their clothing. Soon after, I was forbidden to attend school. My parents went into hiding with my Aunt Dora and Uncle Bert. I was left with our neighbors, a wonderful Christian family who risked their lives by hiding me.

Lambert and Lea Sabaux changed my name to Yvette and told everyone that I was their grandchild. They tried to send me to another school, but the principal warned them that if I happened to be Jewish, I would surely be taken away. So Lambert and Lea picked me up at lunchtime, and for the next four years, I did not attend school.

By this time, Jewish people were called terrible names. It didn’t make sense why this hatred was directed toward us. I started to feel ashamed to be Jewish.

My parents still tried to visit me when they felt it was safe. However, the Gestapo discovered where my mother and Aunt Dora were hiding, and arrested them. Soon after, my dad was told to get off a bus he was riding and arrested as well. My parents were taken to Auschwitz where they lost their lives.

When I was told my parents were deported, I could not stop crying.

By then, people were getting arrested all the time. The Gestapo were arresting not just Jewish people, but also anyone who tried to hide them as well. During their raids, I was often sent away to stay with other people willing to hide me, also at great risk to their lives.

Everyone did what they had to do. When they felt it was safe, I returned home to my Christian family.

The Allies were bombing the railroads and bridges. Towards the end of the war, the German army bombed the same areas to keep arms, food, and supplies from reaching their destination.

We would hear the sirens and find a place to hide. Some people went into shelters; others went down to their cellars. We could hear the bombs, as they destroyed homes in the neighborhood. Soon, food became scarce. We were told that the German troops had to be fed.

After the war, I kept praying that my parents would survive and would return now that the war was over, but it was not meant to be. They were among the six million innocent people who were brutally murdered in concentration camps during the Holocaust.

The people who saved my life wanted me to stay with them, but they were taken to court and I was told I had to move away. I felt so alone. I loved these wonderful people who had risked their lives to save mine. I didn’t want to leave them…..


In February, 2009, Claire discovered that her mother and two cousins were on the 20th transport train from Belgium to Auschwitz.

It was the only Nazi death train in World War II ever to be ambushed!

Incredibly, the heroic band of attackers consisted of a mere three courageous people.

They gave new meaning to the words of the Talmud:

Asia Doliner

Asia Doliner was 17 years old when Hitler invaded Poland. "When the Germans arrived, a reign of terror began," said Asia.

Fleeing her home after the Gestapo arrested her father, Asia eventually finds herself working on a Gestapo farm. One day, she is assigned to carry a bouquet of flowers to a Gestapo officer celebrating his birthday.

"He was so appreciative," says Asia.  He kept saying, "Danke schoen, danke schoen."

Minutes after presenting the bouquet, Asia spots one of her sisters lined up against a nearby wall, awaiting execution. She runs back to the officer and begs, "Please. Please. You see that girl in the trench coat with the stripes? That's my sister. Please let her go."

The officer draws his pistol and tells Asia, "If you don't run away, I'll shoot you like a dog!"

Asia runs.

"It was the worst day of my life. I hated myself. I was thinking, I should have let them shoot me."

Arriving back at her oldest sister's home in the ghetto, Asia is still distraught. Her sister tells her, "You begged a Nazi for mercy? He would have killed you too. He wouldn't have let her go. And then I would have lost you both."

Asia's journey through hell on earth did not end there. Shortly afterwards, her oldest sister and baby disappear from their ghetto home. Asia flees to Warsaw.

After witnessing the uprising in the Warsaw Ghetto, Asia would eventually end up in Flossenburg and Ravensbruck concentration camps.

Then, a twist of fate would place her as a slave laborer outside of Berlin in a German munitions plant. She was liberated by the Soviet army in 1945.


Tamara Buchman

Tamara Buchman was born to Pola and Israel Buchman in 1930 in Warsaw.

The family was in the Warsaw ghetto together until 1942, when Tamara, her mother, and her brother went into hiding. Tamara worked as a domestic in a Catholic family’s home while her mother and brother received false papers from a Catholic man.

Tamara’s father remained in the ghetto and escaped from a train that was going to a concentration camp. He eventually made his way back to his wife and children. Once the family was reunited they escaped to a small village outside Warsaw.

One week before liberation Tamara’s mother, Pola, became ill and was taken to a local hospital, where she died. Tamara believes that she was poisoned by the doctors there because she spoke Yiddish.

After Pola’s death, Tamara’s father helped her and her brother, Kuba, get to the children’s home in Otwock, Poland. Israel promised that they would all be reunited once he was able to find work and support  them. Tamara and Kuba were in Otwock for two years before they went back to Warsaw and were reunited with their father.

In 1949 Tamara immigrated to Israel, where she lived in Kibbutz Amir, Galilee, until 1959. While in Israel, Tamara married and had two children. In 1959, upon her father’s urging, she moved to Canada to be closer to her father and brother. She gave birth to her third son in Canada. She graduated with a degree in fine arts from York University in Toronto. She has 11 grandchildren and 2 great-grandchildren. She still lives in Toronto.



  • 1930~

Vladka Meed Warsaw Ghetto Survivor

Vladka Meed: "And I was with mine package on top of the wall, and the shooting got closer and I was sure that I, this time I am done."

When it was the deportation and she [Vladka's mother] was deported together with my brother, I, I was, I want to take out from the Umschlagplatz [the assembly point], you know, and I thought that maybe I will bribe one of the policemen in our house. Whatever I have, I had a little watch or some others, and the policemen sometimes were able to take out people from the Umschlagplatz.

And I went to him, and nothing worked, and finally I decided I will go together with them. I told them that I will be with, together when they will be deported, and I went to the Umschlagplatz, but I, somehow I couldn't decide and I couldn't make myself go there, because I knew from the underground that this deporting is leading not to other places. If it was my youth or I didn't go to her, and even today it bothers me.

And she went with my little brother and I mentioned that from the Umschlagplatz he sent out the note that they are, he is hungry and they are going, at that time they were giving before the entry to the trains, bread and marmalade for the people to make them believe that they are going to be resettled into other cities when the truth was that they were being taken to Treblinka, to the gas chambers.

While being there at night, I saw the flames of the ghetto. And I saw also certain pictures which were seared in my mind. Some Jews um running from one place to the other and also seeing some Jews jumping from buildings, but I was observing this from a window and I couldn't do anything. And then flames burst into the ghetto.

The Germans couldn't take over the streets, they start putting block after block on fire. They start burning the ghettos...the buildings, and this was the uprising which we...the small group on the Aryan side, we tried to get through. We tried to communicate.

We decided even to go into the into the ghetto to be with them but it was everything was in vain. We didn't have any communication. We saw only tanks coming in, tanks going out, or some ambulances going in and we're listening to the shooting and in that time it was...they...we have to let the outside know what is going on.

  • 1923

Friday 26 July 1940

On Friday 26 July 1940, German guards shot at four people in close succession, who had in part been standing around 100 metres away from the fence around the ghetto. Such incidents were recorded in daily reports by the Jewish constabulary in the Litzmannstadt ghetto:

Shootings on Friday, 26 July 1940

Case 1/

Time of incident: 15.55 Place of incident: Am Bachstrasse 15, around 10-15 m. from the barbed wire fence

Name of person shot: unknown

Age: around 55

Type of shot: 1 shot in the leg, one in the chest and most probably one in the spine

The person was not trying to get over the barbed wire fence.

Facts: The person shot was walking along the pavement of the uneven numbered side of Am Bachstrasse in the direction of Scheunenstrasse. This individual was hit by 3 rifle shots. After the second shot he managed to go through the gate of the house at Am Bachstrasse No. 15.

He died 25 minutes later, after most probably being shot a third time in the spine.

Case 2/ Time of incident: 17.00

Place of incident: Waldstrasse 9, around 100 m. from the barbed wire fence

Name of person shot: unknown.

Age: around 28

Type of shot: 1 shot in the stomach and 1 in the head.

Facts: The person shot was firstly shot in the stomach and then shot in the head whilst on the stretcher, after which he died.

Case 3/

Time of incident: 17.00

Place of incident: Waldstrasse 9, around 100 m. from the barbed wire fence.

Name of person shot: Grylak, Josef, resident at Waldstrasse 7

Age: 77

Type of shot: 1/ grazing shot on the right of the neck 2/ 1 shot in the head, 1 in the chest and 1 in the stomach

Facts: statement from constabulary officer No. 77.

Case 4/

Time of incident: 17.00

Place of incident: Waldstrasse 1, around 100 m. from the barbed wire fence

Name of person injured: Rojza Frydenberg

Age: around 35

Type of shot: 1 shot in the chest.

Facts: statement from constabulary officer No. 77

[Stamped: The Jewish Elder in Litzmannstadt]

Gina Rappaport

From the website:
Sgt. George Gross (relayed to Matthew Rozell, March, 2002):

I spent part of the afternoon (13 April 1945) listening to the story of Gina Rappaport, who had served so well as interpreter. She was in the Warsaw ghetto for several years as the Nazis gradually emptied the ghetto to fill the death camps, until her turn finally came. She was taken to Bergen-Belsen, where the horrible conditions she described matched those official accounts I later heard.



She and some 2500 others, Jews from all over Europe, Finnish prisoners of war, and others who had earned the enmity of Nazidom, were forced onto the train and taken on a back-and-forth journey across Germany, as their torturers tried to get them to a camp where they could be eliminated before Russians on one side or Americans on the other caught up with them.

Since the prisoners had little food, many died on the purposeless journey, and they had felt no cause for hope when they were shunted into this little unimportant valley siding.

Gina told her story well, but I have never been able to write it. I received a letter from her months later, when I was home in San Diego. I answered it but did not hear from her again. Her brief letter came from Paris, and she had great hopes for the future. I trust her dreams were realized.

We were relieved the next morning, started up the tank, waved good-bye to our new friends, and followed a guiding jeep down the road to rejoin our battalion. I looked back and saw a lonely Gina Rappaport standing in front of a line of people waving us good fortune.

On an impulse I cannot explain, I stopped the tank, ran back, hugged Gina, and kissed her on the forehead in a gesture I intended as one asking forgiveness for man's terrible cruelty and wishing her and all the people a healthy and happy future. I pray they have had it.

Today I had every intention to read aloud these paragraphs from Dr. Gross' testimony to my 4th block tenth graders . I made it as far as the last two sentences, and had to stop, go back to my desk, and compose myself for a moment...when I passed around these two photographs and Eran's email, the kids understood...of course I reminded them that I was still a "tough guy".


  • 13 April 1945

Marc Balin~Survivor

Jeanine Balin talks about her late husband, Marc, who surprised the Warsaw Uprising. The photo shows the couple on their wedding day in Paris.

On the 65th anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising during World War II and at the beginning of Passover - two epic symbols of Jewish struggles for freedom - Jeanine Balin thought it would be a good time to tell her husband's story.

Because Marc Balin never did. Not really.

In the years before his death in 2006, the man who would become a noted Lake County physician and anesthesiologist occasionally let down his guard and mentioned something about the horrors of Warsaw during Nazi occupation.

Those nightmares included the time when Balin, a young medical student, and doctors were given the agonizing task of issuing "life tickets" to hospital patients - deciding who would live, and who would be sent to certain death in a concentration camp.

It didn't matter. In the end everyone went, including survivors of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising like Balin, who was shot while escaping from a train bound for the Treblinka extermination camp.

He returned to a devastated Warsaw to live through a second, equally doomed, uprising by Polish insurgents in 1944.

The irony of having survived those experiences, then emigrating to a nation he viewed as a sanctuary from violence and war, only to be shot again and partially paralyzed in a mugging in New York City, was not lost on Balin.

Not that he'd ever talk about it. At least, not much.

"Never. Never. A sentence here and there," Jeanine Balin, 79, of Timberlake, said. "He felt that he had a new life here, and he didn't want to go back to the tragic events of the past."

Not even to revisit his homeland. "Never, never, never, never," she repeated.

But over the years, his wife and two daughters pieced together Balin's story.

Those pieces trace the life of Marek (later changed to Marc) Balin, who left Poland to attend medical school in Paris, but got trapped in Warsaw by the German occupation when he returned home for a visit.

At that time, the Nazis had relocated some 400,000 Polish Jews into central Warsaw, where thousands died of disease and starvation. Balin worked at the Czyste Hospital while continuing his studies at a clandestine medical school.

His sister, Halina Birenbaum, would later recall in her book, "Hope is the Last to Die," (read passages on Google Book Search) that before she was sent to a concentration camp, her brother smuggled food to the family and personally continued her schooling. She remembered how he would go out of his way to avoid having to doff his hat to a German, as required of all Jews.

She wrote, "When being with him, the world - as I knew it before the war and before Treblinka - still existed to some extent, as well as human values he tried to embed in me even in the ghetto."

In testimony for Holocaust researchers after the war, Balin recalled how Jewish doctors were forced to choose which hospital patients should become part of the Nazis' deportation of Jews to concentration camps: "The doctors stopped at each bed for a longer time than usual. They whispered quietly, with anguished voices. They debated in Latin so the patients could not guess anything or comprehend the horror of this unusual consultation."

When the deportations were met by armed resistance starting April 19, 1943, Balin ministered to Jews who were systematically blown, gassed or burned from underground bunkers and shelters. Some 13,000 Jews were killed, an additional 50,000 shipped to concentration camps in the monthlong uprising.

Courtesy of Jeanine BalinMarek Balin in an undated photo. After his escape, Balin was sheltered in Warsaw by a Catholic woman, Jozefa Bartosiewicz, then worked with Dr. Thaddeus Pogorski, a member of the Polish resistance, during the uprising of 1944.

When the city was liberated by the Russians in 1945, Balin got his medical degree from the University of Warsaw, then his diploma in anesthesiology from the University of Paris.

In France, he also met and married a fellow medical student, Jeanine, and in 1956 they immigrated to Cleveland, where he taught at Case Western Reserve University.

A year later, Balin established the department of anesthesiology at Lake County Memorial Hospital in Painesville, then settled into a lakeside home in Timberlake.

His second gunshot wound, inflicted during a robbery at a hotel in New York where he was attending an anesthesiologists' convention in 1973, partially paralyzed his right leg.

He continued pouring his energies into his work, beach erosion-control projects at home, and rebuilding the family he'd lost in the Holocaust.

His daughter, Paulette Balin Yasinow, of Highland Heights, said, "He was adamant that he would not have children on a continent that had already been ravaged by two world wars. Two in one lifetime was enough. He wanted a new life, a rebirth."

So Balin put the war firmly behind him, refusing to even accept reparations the German government offered to Jewish survivors, calling it "blood money."

But he didn't forget.

He regularly sent letters and gift packages to the woman in Poland who had sheltered him after his escape from the train. Jeanine Balin said she hid money in items in the packages so it wouldn't be confiscated in border inspections; including notes like, "Please let me know if the soap is good."

Joyce Fried, of Beachwood, recalled that as much as her father tried to put the war in the past, the impact lingered.

Fried said her father would watch war movies over and over again, "trying to find some closure. I don't think he ever did, and he kept it to himself.

"He really grappled with the war, trying to answer the question of how could something of this enormity ever happen?" she added. "He eventually led the American dream, but I don't think he was ever able to reconcile that in his mind with what happened in Warsaw."

And after he died of a stroke, Jeanine Balin said the best tribute to his life was to tell the story he never did; recalling a quotation from the Roman poet Horace that her husband always recited on the death of a loved one ...

"I shall not die completely."

Warsaw Ghetto Survivor Shares Her Story

By Stefanie Pervos Associate Editor

On Sunday, May 1, Birthright Israel NEXT and JUF's Young Leadership Division with support from the Holocaust Remembrance Committee and the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum hosted a Yom Hashoah screening of award winning documentary “A Film Unfinished.” 

Estelle Laughlin, a volunteer with the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, shared her account of living in the Warsaw Ghetto, followed by a screening of the film in which Israeli filmmaker Yael Hersonski exposes a long missing film reel from the Warsaw Ghetto— unmasking new dimensions of the Nazi propaganda effort. 

Estelle was just 10 years old, living in Warsaw, when the war broke out.

"My family was a middle class family—holidays and friends and just a normal life where I felt secure and loved and, then of course, Warsaw was the center of my universe,” she said. “And then when the war broke out my world, my peaceful street turned into hell.”

Estelle, whose father was one of the organizers of the Warsaw ghetto uprising, reflected on the bravery and tenacity of the resistance fighters.

“I want to emphasize the heroism that the Jewish people in the ghetto mastered and I think that it probably reflects the fact that Jewish people were in ghettos and were persecuted throughout history, but they’ve always managed to create their own culture…that ability to create our own culture under the worst of circumstances…this is our savior. That it’s not a miracle that we survive.”

In the Warsaw Ghetto, Estelle and her family hid to escape the deportations.

“It’s astounding to think that between July 1942, which was my 13th birthday, when the deportations started and Sept. 1942, 99 percent of the Jewish children in the ghetto were sent away never to be seen again. I was among the one percent of the children who have survived.”

Estelle’s family was taken to Majdanek, an extermination camp, where she, her sister and her mother survived—her father was sent to the gas chamber. The three women were later sent to two different labor camps and were liberated from the Czetochowa camp in January of 1945. To escape pogroms in Poland following the war, they moved to Bavaria in August of 1945 and eventually moved to the United States. She now lives in Chicago.  

Today, Estelle volunteers at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum. She speaks about her experiences during the Holocaust not to reflect on “the curse of darkness of the past” but rather “to illuminate the future.” She discusses her story further in her memoir— set to be released next year by Texas Tech University Press.

At the May 1 event, Estelle emphasized that which gave her the strength to survive.

“I am marveling at the child that I was through the eyes of an old person. Where did I find the resources to survive with love for humanity, with compassion, with reverence for life?” she said. “I think that the compensation for reliving that pain [is] the reward to recognize that the young people, that children are wise,” she said. “That they know the difference between right and wrong, that they make choices and that there is a goodness in all of us.”

This year, in honor of Yom Hashoah, Estelle had the following message for Jewish young adults: “I would like to pass on that in memory of those who lived and died and paid the highest price to live by their values, to understand, to remember that the purpose of remembering all of that is to touch and hold on to the best that is in us so that civilization can progress. That it is not to curse the darkness of the past, it’s to understand and make the future brighter for everyone in this world. That we are all one family.”

  • July 1942~Sept. 1942

A Holocaust Survivor Raised a Fist to Death

Leon Weinstein survived the Warsaw Ghetto. But it is the story of the little girl that he wants to tell. August 05, 2011| By Kurt Streeter, Los Angeles Times

She was Jewish, but to live she needed a Christian name.

She could not be Natalie Leya Weinstein, not in wartime Warsaw. Her father wrote her new name on a piece of paper.

Natalie Yazinska.

Her mother, Sima, sobbed.

"The little one must make it," Leon Weinstein told his wife. "We got no chance. But the little one, she is special. She must survive."

He fixed a metal crucifix to a necklace and hung it on their daughter. On the paper, he scrawled another fiction: "I am a war widow, and I have no way of taking care of her. I beg of you good people, please take care of her. In the name of Jesus Christ, he will take care of you for this."

A cold wind cut at the skin that December morning, so Leon Weinstein bundled Natalie, 18 months old, in heavy pants and a thick wool sweater. He headed for a nearby apartment, the home of a lawyer and his wife. The couple did not have a child. Weinstein hoped they wanted one.

He lay Natalie on their front step. Tears ran down his cheeks. You will make it, he thought. She had blond locks and blue eyes. They will think you are a Gentile, not one of us.

Walking away, he could hear her whimper, but forced himself not to look back until he crossed the street. Then he turned and saw a man step out of the apartment. The man read Weinstein's note. He puzzled over the baby.

Cradling Natalie in his arms, the man walked half a block to a police station and disappeared inside.

Weinstein was beside himself.

What if the Gestapo took her from the police?

What if they decided that she was a Jew?

Today, at his small Spanish-style home in Mid-City, Weinstein, 101, recalls in agonizing detail what it was like to give up his baby in 1941 amid the Nazi juggernaut. He is frail, but his wit and memory are keen. He remembers well what followed: killing Germans, dodging death, hunting for Natalie.

Holocaust scholars vouch for his account, calling him one of the last living fighters from the Warsaw Ghetto uprising, almost certainly the oldest.

For years, Weinstein kept his memories buried.

No more.

It is important to tell about Nazi horrors, he now says, so they are never forgotten. It is, he says, important to tell the story of his search for his little girl.

Weinstein was born in the Jewish village of Radzymin, Poland. As a child, he was independent, even stubborn. His family adhered to Orthodox Judaism, but he never fully believed. He defied his elders and grew into something of a tough. Eyes gleaming, he recalls those who called him a "dirty Jew."

"They'd meet my fists," he says. "Then they'd be picking their teeth from the ground."

By 15, he had run away from home and was living in Warsaw, where he worked as a tailor's assistant, then for a clothing company. In his 20s, he married Sima. After Hitler invaded Poland in 1939, they were forced to live in Radzymin with other Jews.

Natalie was born the next year. When she was a year old, Weinstein heard a Nazi guard say that German troops would soon send everyone in Radzymin to a death camp.

He prepared to flee and begged his extended family to leave too. They refused, saying Germans would never do such a thing.

But Weinstein had seen Nazi cruelty first-hand. So he slipped away, with his wife and daughter, into the nearby forest. It was far from a haven: anti-Semitic Polish thugs roamed there.

Using forged papers that identified him as a Christian, Weinstein and his family headed to Warsaw. They hoped that the sprawling capital would be a good hiding place. Sima had no papers; if the Nazis caught her, all three might be killed.

A Polish couple promised to hide Sima, but Weinstein and the baby would draw too much attention. They decided to leave Natalie on the lawyer's doorstep. Weinstein would head for the confines of the Warsaw Ghetto, where fellow Jews would give him shelter.

"This was a place completely unimaginable," Weinstein says. "A place worse even than the hell that Dante described."

The ghetto was surrounded by an 11-foot-high brick wall, barbed wire and guards. More than 400,000 Jews had been forced inside the 3.5-square-mile area. By early 1943, an estimated 300,000 of them had been shipped to Treblinka, a death camp in northeast Poland.

Nazis rationed food for those who remained and many died of starvation. Disease killed thousands more. Weinstein feared constantly for Natalie and Sima and was certain he would die.

He joined the ghetto resistance. "If we were going to die," Weinstein says, "we would do it on our own terms. We would die standing proud, on our feet, making a statement to the world. We would take as many of those bastards as we could kill."

He helped organize and train resistance fighters. On occasion, using his forged papers, he talked his way out of the ghetto and smuggled weapons back inside.

Dr. Adina Blady Szwajger

Dr. Adina Blady Szwajger's memoir of the Warsaw ghetto, "I Remember Nothing More," is a significant and powerful book adding to our historical knowledge and emotional understanding of the Jewish Resistance.

She was 22 years old, about to complete her medical training, when the Nazis invaded Poland. She joined the staff of the Warsaw Children's hospital and remained there till the last days of the ghetto when she escaped to the Aryan side and became a courier for the Resistance, bringing money and papers, arranging apartments for hidden Jews, dealing with extortionists, betrayers and Nazis.

After the war, she became a prominent pediatrician in Warsaw, and now, in her 70s, she tells us of things she can hardly bear to remember. With directness, honesty, with a certain artless quality, where events unfold and rush ahead and pause where the feelings become too large for speech, she tells about the starving children whom the staff at the hospital could not feed, about the tubercular wards on which every patient died.

She describes the staff efforts to do rounds, to practice medicine in a situation where to save a child meant to condemn him to a different death. She describes her colleagues, breaking down, going on; the typhus, the scarlet fever; the children putting on plays hours before deportation.

At great cost to herself, she describes giving lethal injections of morphine to the elderly who could not move, to dying babies, as the Nazis arrive to clear out the hospital. Later, she performed abortions to save the lives of women in hiding.

She tells us at the end of the book the memory that has weighed down on her all the rest of her life. She gave a lethal injection to an old woman who was running in the Warsaw streets, speaking Yiddish and so threatening to betray a household of hidden Jews. We understand. We do not judge. We would hope to have had her courage to do the same.

She describes her Polish friends and enemies in a city become hostile and dark. She tells us how they drank vodka to tolerate the nights and how they loved one another in the face of chaos.

This book has no philosophy, no hand-wringing, no adjectives, no theology, no politics. It is simply an extraordinary book by an extraordinary woman. Her story deserves a prominent place in the terrible library of the Shoah.

In "Children of the Flames: Dr. Joseph Mengele and the Untold Story of the Twins of Auschwitz," we hear the story of the infamous Mengele, the Angel of Death at Auschwitz, and his special children. Surviving twins tell us in their own words what they remember of their experiences as part of Mengele's genetic experiments in racial superiority. We learn how they picked up their lives and continued in a nightmare beyond the complete understanding of those of us who did not experience it.

Lucette Matalon Lagnado, who had written a story on Mengele for Parade magazine, and Sheila Cohn Dekel, the widow of a surviving twin, have written a book that tells us in detail of the life of the children who were saved from the gas chambers to participate in Mengele's laboratory.

We are told of injections and operations and painful eye drops, the castration of a surviving twin's brother, the operations without anesthetic, the bruises, the brutality, the deliberate infections that were given to the twins in the name of eugenics, in the name of science and racial genetics.

Young Boys in the Warsaw Ghetto

Simha Rotem

 Simha Rotem, 82, one of six survivors of the Warsaw ghetto uprising who participated in the documentary film 'The Last Fighters' and who lost his brother and sister in the Holocaust of World War II, poses in the garden of his house September 28, 2006 in Jerusalem, Israel.

Sixty-three years ago in Warsaw's crowded Jewish ghetto, Rotem (then Kazik Ratheiser) was the only survivor of a Jewish underground combat unit who fought the Nazis during the heroic 1943 uprising, escaped the destruction of the ghetto and survived the war in the forests of Poland as a partisan before eventually settling in Israel, the Jewish state which was founded on the ashes of the Holocaust in 1948.

Israel's broadsheet daily newspaper Haaretz reported that 'The Last Fighters,' by filmmakers Ronen Zaretzky and Yael Kipper-Zaretzky, tells the story of the survivors? struggle in their own words, their eyes and the vivid and sometimes unpleasant memories, confronting events they would rather have forgotten.

Benjamin Meed (Miedzyrzecki)


Benjamin Meed (Miedzyrzecki), who helped to found the American Gathering of Jewish Holocaust Survivors in 1981 and led the organization until 2006, died on this date in that year at age 88.

Meed was a survivor of the Warsaw Ghetto who was recruited to the underground by his future wife, Vladka (Fayge) Peltel, with whom he lived on the “Aryan” side of Warsaw while helping to smuggle out ghetto fighters and other Jews. In 1966 they founded the Warsaw Ghetto Resistance Organization; fifteen years later, they helped convene the World Gathering of Jewish Holocaust Survivors, which attracted more than 10,000 survivors to Israel.

Michael Berenbaum of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, which Meed helped to found and advise, described Meed as “ward leader of the survivors . . . the one survivor who really had a constituency and could produce thousands, and tens of thousands, of survivors to events, to meetings, to gatherings, to reunions.”

The Meeds also funded the Registry of Jewish Holocaust Survivors, a searchable database at the Washington museum that has reunited hundreds of survivors.

“We now pass our torch onto our children and to their children and beyond. The torch of memory is precious. It can illuminate the world.” —Benjamin Meed

Holocaust Survivors from the Warsaw Ghetto

Holocaust Survivors from the Warsaw Ghetto who returned to the ruins of the ghetto to visit their former hiding places. Halina Birenbaum. 

Photographed on March 27, 1946.


  • March 27, 1946

Mr. Faiwl~Survivor

Survivors in Ebensee. The man in the foreground is Mr. Faiwl, originally from Kalisz, Poland, imprisoned in Warsaw ghetto, Czestochowa ghetto - Hassak labor camp, Bedzin ghetto, Auschwitz-Birkenau, Swietochowice and Ebensee, where he was liberated by the U.S. Army. (May 6-15, 1945)

Warsaw Ghetto Square in Times Square. April, 1971.

 Pola Lipschutz of Manhattan formerly from Krahan, Poland and Esta Starr of Brooklyn formerly from Czechoslovakia crying after the ceremony proclaiming the Warsaw Ghetto Square in Times Square. April, 1971.

  • April, 1971

Jan Karksi Inside the Warsaw Ghetto

Jan Kott, a representative of the Polish government - in - exile in London, at the funeral of Bund activist Shmu'el Zygelbojm

In the middle of 1942, I was thinking to take up again my position as a courier between the Polish underground and the Polish government in exile in London. The Jewish leaders in Warsaw learned about it. A meeting was arranged outside the ghetto. There were two gentlemen. They did not live in the ghetto. They introduced themselves – leader of Bund, Zionist leader.

Now, what transpired, what happened in our conversation?

First I was not prepared for it. I was relatively isolated in my work in Poland. I did not see many things. In thirty-five years after the war I do not go back. I have been a teacher for twenty-six years, I never mention the Jewish problem to my students. I understand this film is for historical record, so I will try to do it.

They described to me what is happening to the Jews. Did I know about it?  No I didn’t.

They described to me first that the Jewish problem is unprecedented, cannot be compared with the Polish problem, or Russian, or any other problem. Hitler will lose this war, but he will exterminate all the Jewish population.

Do I understand it?

The Allies fight for their people – they fight for humanity. The Allies cannot forget that the Jews will be exterminated totally in Poland – Polish and European Jews.

They were breaking down. They paced the room. They were whispering. They were hissing. It was a nightmare for me.

Did they look completely despairing? Yes, Yes.

At various stages of the conversation they lost control of themselves. I just sat in my chair. I just listened. I did not even react. I didn’t ask them questions. I was just listening.

Dr. Emil Sommerstein, a minister in the temporary Polish government and the chairman of the Central Committee of Polish Jewry

They wanted to convince you?

They realised, I think…. they realised from the beginning that I don’t know, that I don’t understand this problem. Once I said I will take messages from them, they wanted to inform me what is happening to the Jews. I didn’t know this. I was never in a ghetto. I never dealt with the Jewish matters.

Did you know yourself at the time that most of the Jews of Warsaw had already been killed?

I did know. But I didn’t see anything. I never heard any description of what was happening and I was never there. It is one thing to know statistics. There were hundreds of thousands of Poles also killed – of Russians, Serbs, Greeks.

We knew about it. But it was a question about statistics.

Did they insist on the complete uniqueness…..? Yes.

This was their problem: to impress upon me – and that was my mission – to impress upon all people whom I am going to see that the Jewish situation is unprecedented in history.

Egyptian pharaohs did not do it. The Babylonians did not do it. Now for the first time in history actually, they came to the conclusion: unless the Allies take some unprecedented steps, regardless of the outcome of the war, the Jews will be totally exterminated.

And they cannot accept it.

This means that they asked for very specific measures? Yes.


At a certain point the Bund leader, then at a certain point the Zionist leader – then what do they want?

A letter of appeal to the Jewish National Committee in Warsaw to the representatives of the Polish government - in - exile

What message am I supposed to take? Then they gave me messages, various messages, to the Allied governments as such – I was to see as many government officials as I could, of course.

Then to the Polish government, then to the president of the Polish republic, then to the international Jewish leaders. And to individual political leaders, leading intellectuals- approach as many people as possible.

And then they gave me segments – to whom do I report what.

So now, in these nightmarish meetings – two meetings I had with them – well, then they presented their demands. Separate demands. The message was Hitler cannot be allowed to continue extermination.

Every day counts. The Allies cannot treat this war only from a purely military strategic standpoint. They will win the war, if they take such an attitude, but what good will it do to us?

We will not survive this war. The Allied governments cannot take such a stand. We contributed to humanity – we gave scientists for thousands of years. We originated great religions. We are humans. Do you understand it?

Do you understand it?

Never happened before in history, what is happening to our people now. Perhaps it will shake the conscience of the world. We understand we have no country of our own, we have no government, we have no voice in the Allied councils.

So we have to use services, little people like you are. Will you do it? Will you approach them? Will you fulfil your mission? Approach the Allied leaders?

We want an official declaration of the Allied nations that in addition to the military strategy which aims at securing victory, military victory in this war, extermination of the Jews forms a separate chapter, and the Allied nations formally, publicly, announce that they will deal with this problem, that it becomes part of their overall strategy in the war.

Not only defeat of Germany, but also saving the remaining Jewish population. Once they make such an official declaration, they have an air force, they drop bombs on Germany – why cannot they drop millions of leaflets informing the German population exactly what their government is doing to the Jews?

Perhaps they don’t know it!

General Wladyslaw Sikorski

Now let them make an official declaration- again , official, a public declaration – that if the German nation does not offer evidence of trying to change the policy of their government, the German nation will have to be held responsible for the crimes their government is committing.

And now, if there is no such evidence, to announce publicly, officially, certain objects in Germany will be bombed, destroyed, as a retaliation for what the German government is doing against the Jews, that the bombing which will take place is not a part of the military strategy. It deals only with the Jewish problem. Let the German people know before bombing takes place and after bombing takes place that this was done and will continue to be done because the Jews are being exterminated in Poland.

Perhaps it will help. They can do it. They can do it. This was one mission. Next, both of them – particularly the Zionist leader – he was again whispering, hissing. Something is going to happen. The Jews in the Warsaw ghetto are talking about it, particularly the young elements.

They will fight. They speak about a declaration of war against the Third Reich. A unique war in world history - Never such a war took place. They want to die fighting.

We can’t deny them this kind of death. By the way, I don’t know at the time, a Jewish military organisation emerged. They didn’t tell me about it, only that something is going to happen. The Jews will fight. They need arms. We approached the commander of the Home Army, the underground movement in Poland.

Those arms were denied the Jews. They can’t be denied arms, if such arms exist, and we know you have arms. This message for the commander in chief General Silkorski, to issue orders that those arms will be given to the Jews.  

This was another part of the mission. There are international Jewish leaders. Reach as many as possible, tell them this. They are Jewish leaders. Their people are dying. There will be no Jews so what for do we need leaders?

We are going to die as well. We don’t try to escape. We stay here. Let them go to important offices in London, wherever they are. Let them demand for action. If they refuse, let them walk out, stay in the street, refuse food, refuse drink. Let them die in view of all humanity. Who knows? Perhaps it will shake the conscience of the world.

Refugee hospital in the Warsaw Ghetto

Between those two Jewish leaders – somehow this belongs to human relations – I took, so to say, to the Bund leader, probably because of his behaviour – he looked like a Polish nobleman, a gentleman, with straight beautiful gestures, dignified.

I believe that he liked me also, personally. Now at a certain point, he said “Mr Witold, I know the western world. You are going to deal with the English. Now you will give them your oral reports.

I am sure it will strengthen your report if you will be able to say, “I saw it myself.” We can organise for you to visit the Jewish ghetto. Would you do it? If you do I will go with you to the Jewish ghetto in Warsaw so I will be sure you will be as safe as possible. 

A few days later we established contact. By that time the Jewish ghetto as it existed in 1942 until July did not exist anymore. Out of approximately four hundred thousand Jews, some three hundred thousand were already deported from the ghetto.

So within the outside walls practically there were some four units. The most important was the so-called central ghetto. They were separated by some areas inhabited by the Aryans and already some areas not inhabited by anybody.

There was a building. This building was constructed in such a way that the wall which separated the ghetto from the outside world was a part of the back of the building, so the front was facing the Aryan area. There was a tunnel.

We went through this tunnel without any kind of difficulty. What struck me was that now he was a completely different man – the Bund leader, the Polish nobleman.

I go with him. He is broken down, like a Jew from the ghetto, as if he had lived there all the time. Apparently, this was his nature. This was his world. So we walked the streets. He was on my left. We didn’t talk very much. He led me.

Well, so what? So now comes the description of it, yes?

A man lies on the sidewalk as people pass him by in the Warsaw Ghetto

Well…. naked bodies on the street. I ask him, “Why are they here?”  The corpses you mean?

Corpses... He says, “Well they have a problem. If a Jew dies and the family wants a burial, they have to pay tax on it. So they just throw them in the street.  

Because they cannot pay the tax? Yes.

They cannot afford it. So then he says: “Every rag counts. So they take their clothing. And then once the body, the corpse is on the street, the Judenrat has to take care of it.”

Women with their babies, publicly feeding their babies but they have no …. no breast, just flat. Babies with crazed eyes, looking…….. 

Did it look like a completely strange world? Another world, I mean? It was not a world. There was not humanity. Streets full, full.

Apparently all of them lived in the street, exchanging what was the most important, everybody offering something to sell – three onions, two onions, some cookies. Selling. Begging each other crying and hungry.

Those horrible children- some children running by themselves or with their mothers sitting. It wasn’t humanity…. it was some …. some hell.

Now in this part of the ghetto, the central ghetto, there were German officers. If the Gestapo released somebody, the Gestapo officers had to pass through the ghetto to get out of it.

A woman & Jewish policeman speak to a German soldier in the Warsaw Ghetto

There were also Germans, German traffic. Now the Germans in uniform, they were walking…. silence! Everybody frozen until he passed, no movement , no begging, nothing.

Germans …. contempt - this is apparent that they are subhuman. They are not human. Now at a certain point some movement starts. Jews are running from the street I was on. We jumped into a house. He just hits the door. “Open the door! Open the door!”

They open the door. We move in. Windows give onto the back of the street. We go to the opposite – in the door. Some woman opens the door. He says: “All right, all right, don’t be afraid, we are Jews.”

He pushes me to the window, says “Look at it, look at it.” There were two boys, nice looking boys, Hitler-jugend in uniform. They walked. Every step they made, Jews disappearing, running away.

They were talking to each other. At a certain point a boy goes into his pocket without even thinking.  Shoots !

Some broken glass, the other boy congratulating him, they go back. So I was paralysed.

So then the Jewish woman- probably she recognised me, I don’t know, that I am not a Jew – she embraced me. “Go, go, it doesn’t do you any good, go, go.”

So we left the house. Then we left the ghetto. So then he said, “You didn’t see everything, you didn’t see too much. Would you like to go again? I will come with you. I want you to see everything.”  “I will.”

A corpse on the pavement in the Warsaw Ghetto

Next day we went again. The same house, the same way. So then again I was more conditioned. So I felt other things. Stench, stench, dirt, stench – everywhere suffocating.

Dirty streets, nervousness, tension. Bedlam. This was Platz Muranowski. In a corner of it some children were playing something with rags – throwing the rags to one another.

He says: “They are playing, you see. Life goes on. Life goes on.” So then I said: “They are simulating playing. They don’t play.” It was a special place for playing?

In the corner of Platz Muranowski – no, no,no, open. So I say: “They are…”

There are trees?

There were a few trees, rickety. So then we just walked the streets, we didn’t talk to anybody. We walked probably one hour. Sometimes he would tell me: “Look at this Jew” – a Jew standing without moving. I said: “Is he dead?”

He says: “No, no, no, he is alive Mr Witold, remember – he’s dying, he’s dying. Look at him. Tell them over there. You saw it. Don’t forget.”

We walk again. It’s macabre. Only from time to time he would whisper: “Remember this, remember this.” Or he would tell me: “Look at her.” Very many cases I would say: “What are they doing here?” His answer: “They are dying that’s all. They are dying.”

Jan Karksi speaks at the Wannsee house in Berlin 1997

And always: “But remember, remember.”

We spent more time, perhaps one hour. We left the ghetto. Frankly I couldn’t take it anymore, “Get me out of it.” And then I never saw him again. I was sick. Even now I don’t want ….. I understand your role. I am here. I don’t go back in my memory, I couldn’t tell any more.

But I reported what I saw. It was not a world. It was not part of it. I did not belong there. I never saw such things, I never….. nobody wrote about this kind of reality.

I never saw any theatre, I never saw any movie…. this was not the world. I was told that these were human beings – they didn’t look like human beings.

Then we left. He embraced me then. “Good luck, good luck.”

I never saw him again.




  • 1942

Contributor: bgill
Created: December 1, 2011 · Modified: December 4, 2011

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