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Warsaw Ghetto Uprising begins »

Warsaw Ghetto Uprising begins » 1943

Warsaw Ghetto Uprising
Part of World War II and the Holocaust
Stroop Report - Warsaw Ghetto Uprising 06b.jpg
Photo from Jürgen Stroop's report to Heinrich Himmlerfrom May 1943 and one of the best-known pictures of World War II.
The original German caption reads: "Forcibly pulled out of dug-outs."
Date19 April – 16 May 1943
LocationWarsaw GhettoGeneral Government
52°14′46″N 20°59′45″ECoordinates52°14′46″N 20°59′45″E
ResultUprising defeated
Commanders and leaders
Daily average of 2,090 including 821 Waffen-SSAbout 600[1] ŻOB and about 400[2] ŻZW fighters, plus a number of Polish fighters
Casualties and losses
At least 17 killed, 93 wounded (German figures)About 13,000 killed, 56,885 deported, mostly civilians (German estimate)
According to Stroop's unofficial account, 71,000 people in all were killed or deported. The 16 killed on the German side do not include Jewish forced collaborators.
The Warsaw Ghetto Uprising (Yiddishאױפֿשטאַנד אין װאַרשעװער געטאָ‎; Polishpowstanie w getcie warszawskimGermanAufstand im Warschauer Ghetto) was the 1943 act of Jewish resistance that arose within the Warsaw Ghetto in German-occupied Poland during World War II, and which opposed Nazi Germany's final effort to transport the remaining Ghetto population to Treblinka. The uprising started on 19 April when the Ghetto refused to surrender to the police commander SS-Brigadeführer Jürgen Stroop, who then ordered the burning of the Ghetto, block by block, ending on 16 May. A total of 13,000 Jews died, about half of them burnt alive or suffocated. German casualties are not known, but were not more than 300. It was the largest single revolt by Jews during World War II.

Corner of Żelazna 70 and Chłodna 23 (looking east). This section of Żelazna street connected the "large ghetto" and "small ghetto" areas of German-occupied Warsaw.

In 1939, German occupational authorities 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, 3.3 km² central area of Warsaw. Thousands of Jews died due to rampant disease and starvation under SS-und-Polizeiführer Odilo Globocnik and SS-Standartenführer Ludwig Hahn, even before the mass deportations from the Ghetto to the Treblinka extermination camp began.
The SS conducted many of the deportations during the operation code-named Grossaktion Warschau, between 23 July and 21 September 1942. Just before the operation began, the German "Resettlement Commissioner" SS-Sturmbannführer Hermann Höfle called a meeting of the Ghetto Jewish Council Judenrat and informed its leader, Adam Czerniaków, that he would require 7,000 Jews a day for the "resettlement to the East". 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-month-long operation. The Grossaktion was directed by SS-OberführerFerdinand von Sammern-Frankenegg, the SS and police commander of the Warsaw area since 1941. He was relieved of duty by SS-und-Polizeiführer Jürgen Stroop, sent to Warsaw by Heinrich Himmler on 17 April 1943. Stroop took over from von Sammern-Frankenegg following the failure of the latter to pacify the Ghetto resistance.
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, Ghetto inhabitants learned that the deportations were part of an extermination process. Many of the remaining Jews decided to revolt. The first armed resistance in the ghetto occurred in January 1943. On 19 April 1943, Passover eve, the Germans entered the ghetto. The remaining Jews knew that the Germans would murder them and they decided to resist to the last.[12] While the uprising was underway, the Bermuda Conference was held from 19–29 April 1943 to discuss the Jewish refugee problem.[13]Discussions included the question of Jewish refugees who had been liberated by Allied forces and those who still remained within German-occupied Europe
Stroop Report original caption: "HeHalutz women captured with weapons." Jewish resistance women, among them Malka Zdrojewicz (right), who survived the Majdanek extermination camp.
Hanna Krall, who interviewed the only surviving uprising commander, Marek Edelman (from the left-wing Jewish Combat Organization, Żydowska Organizacja Bojowa, ŻOB), stated that the ŻOB had 220 fighters and each was armed with a handgun, grenades, and Molotov cocktails. His organization had three rifles in each area, as well as two land mines and one submachine gun in the whole Ghetto. The insurgents had little ammunition; more weapons were supplied throughout the uprising, and some were captured from the Germans. Some weapons were handmade by the resistance; sometimes such weapons worked, other times they jammed repeatedly.
Shortly before the uprising, Polish-Jewish historian Emanuel Ringelblum (who managed to escape from the Warsaw Ghetto, but was later discovered and executed in 1944) visited a ŻZW armoury hidden in the basement at 7 Muranowska Street. In his notes, which form part of Oyneg Shabbos archives, he reported: "They were armed with revolvers stuck in their belts. Different kinds of weapons were hung in the large rooms: light machine guns, rifles, revolvers of different kinds, hand grenades, bags of ammunition, German uniforms, etc., all of which were utilized to the full in the April "action". (...) While I was there, a purchase of arms was made from a former Polish Army officer, amounting to a quarter of a million złoty; a sum of 50,000 złoty was paid on account. Two machine guns were bought at 40,000 złoty each, and a large amount of hand grenades and bombs." 

Support from outside the Ghetto was limited, but Polish Resistance units from the mainstream Home Army (Armia Krajowa, AK) and the communist Polish Workers' Party's militia People's Guard (Gwardia Ludowa, GL) attacked German units near the Ghetto walls and attempted to smuggle weapons, ammunition, supplies, and instructions into the Ghetto. Polish resistance provided the insurgents with a limited number of badly needed weapons and ammunitions from its meager stocks.  Jewish right-wing resistance in the Jewish Military Union (Żydowski Związek Wojskowy, ŻZW) received large quantities of armament, including several automatic weapons, from the AK-affiliated National Security Corps (Państwowy Korpus Bezpieczeństwa, PKB). AK disseminated information and appeals to help the Jews in the Ghetto, both in Poland and by way of radio transmissions to the Allies. Several ŻOB commanders and fighters later escaped through the sewers with assistance from the Poles and joined the Polish underground. A PKB unit commanded by Henryk Iwański ("Bystry") reportedly fought even inside the Ghetto along with ŻZW and subsequently both groups retreated together (including 34 Jewish fighters) to the so-called Aryan side. Although Iwański'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. Between 19 and 23 April 1943, the Polish resistance engaged the Germans at six different locations outside the ghetto walls, shooting at German sentries and positions and in one case attempting to blow up a gate.

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