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Holocaust and WW II

The Warsaw Ghetto

 

"Grandma Masza had twelve grandchildren. Grandma Hana had eleven. Only I survived."
Jacek Eisner
Inscription on the Memorial to the Child Victims of the Holocaust in the Jewish cemetery in Warsaw

 

The Warsaw Ghetto

Inscription on the 22 obelisks marking the line of the Warsaw ghetto perimeter wall (the ghetto boundary memorial):
“Pursuant to the orders of the German occupying authorities, the ghetto was cut off from the rest of the city on 16 November 1940. The area enclosed by the wall was initially around 307 hectares, but was gradually reduced in size; from January 1942 it was divided into the “large” and “small” ghettos. Some 360,000 Jews from Warsaw and around 90,000 from elsewhere were crowded into that space. About 100,000 people died of starvation. In the summer of 1942 the Germans rounded up and transported out approximately 300,000 people, whom they murdered in the gas chambers of Treblinka.
On 19 April 1943 an uprising broke out; until mid-May insurrectionists and civilians perished in the struggle and in the flames of the ghetto, which was systematically burned to the ground; the rest were murdered by the Germans in November 1943 in Majdanek, Poniatowa and Trawniki. Very few survived.”

 

Jewish Martyrdom and Struggle Memorial Route

This route takes in 22 stones commemorating places, events and people connected with the Warsaw ghetto. The key points on the route are the Ghetto Heroes Monument, the Anielewicz Mound, and the memorial at the Umschlagplatz. 

 

The Ghetto Heroes Monument

It is one of the best known monuments in the world commemorating the Jewish resistance movement. The central element of the memorial, on its western face, is a bronze bas-relief showing a group of Jewish insurrectionists, in expressive poses, holding Molotov cocktails, pistols, and grenades. A young woman holds a child on her arm. The group is surrounded by flames symbolising the ghetto set alight by the Germans.
The monument is the central site of commemoration of the heroes and victims of the Warsaw ghetto. It is here that official ceremonies are held, and here that heads of state pay their respects to the heroes of those events. It was here that in December 1970 Chancellor Willy Brandt fell to his knees as a sign of his remorse for the crimes committed by the Germans.

 

The Anielewicz Mound (Bunker, 18 Miła Street)

towards the end of the ghetto uprising, members of the Jewish Fighting Organisation were in hiding in a shelter in the cellars of the tenement at 18 Miła Street. Among them was the leader of the insurrection, Mordechaj Anielewicz. The shelter was discovered by the Germans on 8 May 1943.
Some 120 of the fighters, including Anielewicz, refused to surrender to the Germans, and committed mass suicide. At the site of their death there is now a commemorative mound, and since no exhumation was performed on this site after the war, it is at once the mass grave of those insurrectionists.

 

Umschlagplatz

 
the railway siding, now no longer extant, at 4/6 Stawki Street, which in 1942-1943 was used, together with the adjacent yard and surrounding buildings, as the central gathering point and organisational hub for the transports of Jews from the Warsaw ghetto to the death camp in Treblinka. The Jews herded onto the Umschlagplatz often spent many hours waiting for the transports to leave. They were subjected to selections, and crowded into stock cars. During the liquidation of the Warsaw ghetto, some 5,000-6,000 Jews a day were taken from the Umschlagplatz to their deaths. One transport comprised about 60 wagons, each of which carried around a hundred people. It was from here, on 5 August 1942, that Dr Janusz Korczak and around 200 children from his orphanage were transported to Treblinka. In all, an estimated 300,000 Jews were taken from the Umschlagplatz for extermination.
Today on the site of the railway siding there is a monument in the approximate shape of a stock car, inside which 400 Jewish and Polish names are inscribed. Each name commemorates a thousand of the victims of the Warsaw ghetto.

 

The vestiges of the ghetto wall 


After the end of World War II, the ghetto walls were razed. Only three small sections of wall have been preserved to the present, in the courtyard of the tenement buildings at 9/11 Waliców Street, and the connected courtyards of the neighbouring tenements at 55 Sienna Street and 62 Złota Street. All these sections of wall are inscribed in the register of historic structures. Single bricks from each of the sections of wall have been taken as exhibits to the Yad Vashem Institute in Jerusalem and the Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C.

 

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