….The Warsaw Ghetto Uprising began. 70 years have passed and people tend to forget the horrific crimes that were committed on Polish soil by the German Nazis during World War II. All Jews were already sentenced to death by the Nazis. And for a Pole to be discovered helping a Jew was a death sentence. Yet hundreds and thousand of Poles risked death to help the Jews. And, sadly, there were some Poles who did nothing or worse. But overall, the Polish people have always been open in accepting others, that’s why Poland had such a huge Jewish population before the Nazis came.
The Nazis concentrated Jews in ghettos in large cities such as Warsaw. Early on, they’d round up hundreds and thousands of Jews and send them away, ostensibly to work camps, but in reality to death camps. Eventually the word got back, not only to the Jews and the Poles, but to the allies as well. What did the Allies do with that information? Sadly, they hid it for fear of “offending” Stalin. But the Jews and the Poles did differently. They knew the sad and sordid truth–the Nazis were systematically exterminating all Jews and any who helped the Jews.
And so when the Nazis entered the Warsaw Ghetto on April 19, 1943, they were met with organized resistance from the Jews. Some of their weapons were manufactured, some stolen from the Germans, and some given to them by the Polish resistance. While the Jews in the Ghetto fought back for a month, until May 16th, Polish resistance forces also worked outside to hinder the Nazis in their plans. The Nazis systematically burned the ghetto and in the end, 13,000 Jews died, about 6000 from burns and smoke inhalation. And what of the rest of the Jews. Sadly about 57,000 men, women and children were “deported,” mostly to Treblinka a Nazi death camp on Polish soil, where they were murdered.
But, 70 years ago, a band of Jews resisted the Nazis, with Polish help, and for a month held off superior forces. And what of the Nazi general who led all of this. I’m happy to report that he was sentenced to death by a US military tribunal, then extradited to Poland where he was tried and convicted of crimes against humanity and and hanged by Polish authorities in 1952.
To read more about the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, see this Wikipedia article: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Warsaw_Ghetto_Uprising.
And now, 70 years later, on April 19, 2013, the Museum of the History of Polish Jews opened in Warsaw. I’m sure it’ll be on my itinerary for my next visit to Warsaw.
To learn more about the history of Jews in Poland, see this article: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_the_Jews_in_Poland. The whole world would learn a great lesson in tolerance (and in how intolerance develops) if it would study this history of the Jews in Poland….