Today marks the anniversary of a generally little-known battle of World War II. On this day in 1943, the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising began.
The uprising was a desperate attempt by the Jewish residents of the Warsaw Ghetto to avoid deportation to the Treblinka Extermination Camp. It was supported to various extents by other Communist and non-Communist Polish resistance forces.
The Polish Jews forced into the Ghetto were abysmally badly armed and supplied. Nonetheless, they decided it was better to fight – and very likely die on their feet – than be led away to slaughter.
From 19 April to 10 May, the residents of the Warsaw Ghetto battled Nazi forces. Using fire as their most effective weapon, the Nazis prevailed.
Prior to the uprising, the Warsaw Ghetto was approximately 1.3 square miles. At the end, few buildings within the entire Ghetto were useable. What was left were largely burned-out shells. The Nazis razed those and built Warsaw Concentration Camp on the site.
Approximately 13,000 are thought to have died during the Warsaw Ghetto uprising – 7,000 in the fighting, and 6,000 by being burned alive or via smoke inhalation. After the fighting ceased, the remaining 50,000 residents were deported to Treblinka. Most were murdered there.
However, the first group deported early during the uprising reportedly reorganized into resistance groups while at Treblinka. Reputedly they also played a pivotal role in the 2 August 1943 revolt and mass escape which occurred there.
Spoczywaj w pokoju, mój starszy bracia broni. Szalom.