Warsaw Ghetto Uprising

Christian Pryor (1st Period)

Background:

In the year of 1939 Nazi Germany had started to invade Poland, and eventually by the end of the year had it mostly occupied. The German leaders announced that a ghetto would be made out of a city named Warsaw. Jewish members of Warsaw and the surrounding cities would all live in the ghetto unless they were immediately sent to a concentration camps.The Warsaw Ghetto was started in November of 1940. Most people considered the ghetto to be a prison where they had no freedom. Large deportations of the ghetto in Warsaw, Poland started in July of 1942. German soldiers deported over 265,000 Jewish members of the ghetto to the the Treblinka Killing Center and over 11,580 more Jewish members were forced into labor camps. However, thirty five thousand Jews were able to stay in the ghetto while 20,000 were secretly in hiding in dark alleyways and the underground sewers.Two Jewish resistance groups were formed to slow down the German forces. One was the Jewish Combat Organization(ZOB), which held 200 members at first,then when the uprising had grown, they had over 500 members. The second group was known as the Jewish Military Union(ZZW), which included more than 300 soldiers.They received supplies from the Polish Underground Military Movement (Also known as the “Home Army”) through the underground sewers.

The Uprising

  • The uprising had many small confrontations that led up to the actual result of the uprising as a whole. But the main confrontation occurred on April 19 of 1943 and lasted a little shorter than a month. A Nazi leader announced that the entire ghetto would be evacuated and all of Jewish members would be sent to concentration camps or Labor Camps. The event was to be in honor of Adolf Hitler's birthday. More that 1,000 Nazi soldiers entered the Warsaw Ghetto to start evacuation processes. Sixty thousand Jews were in hiding from German forces. In response to the preparations nearly 900 Jewish soldiers from the two resistance groups had attacked the Nazis with homemade grenades and weaponry they had received from outside sources. The Germans had to retreat from the surprise attack but came back 5 days later with strong and more powerful force.The Germans terminated every building in the ghetto. Most members of the ZOB and the ZZW fled to the sewers below the city to seek shelter. A week and a half later after nearly half of the Warsaw ghetto was demolished and the resistance leaders committed suicide to avoid the torture and torment of the concentration camps. But, resistance was still happening around the ghetto in a last effort to have some pride of fighting back before they met the fate they all knew was coming. About 300 German soldiers were killed by the resistance, however they did not come out victorious. Most of the Jewish members who were survivors were sent to the Treblinka camp where they were killed by the end of the war.

Aftermath of the Uprising

In the summer of 1943, the Nazi leader overseeing all of the ghettos created by Germany in many other countries served no more use. So, he ordered the destruction of all ghettos in Poland and ones in the Parts of the Soviet-Union controlled by Germany. The German soldiers murdered as many Jewish members as they could that lived in the ghetto and the survivors of all the destruction were sent off to meet to meet the same fate.

Life in the Ghetto

Any Jew that was found outside of the ghetto received the death penalty without question. The Jews also had no form of communication in the ghetto. The Nazi soldiers took away all radios, tore down all telephone lines, and confiscated any packages that were sent to the ghetto. Usually you would find several families living in one single apartment together. Disease spread quickly in the ghetto. By the end of 1941, over 43,000 Jews had died of a various amounts of diseases. In the spring of 1941, many companies in Germany set up workshops to increase wealth and production. Most of the workshops were created in order to help make guns, ammunition, and other weapons for the German soldiers. Then the Nazi leaders at the camp believed that if the Jews weren’t working in the small factories they weren’t any use in the ghetto. If a member of the ghetto didn’t have a work card that they would be sent to a concentration camp, which caused panic among the Jewish members.

Quick Facts

  • The Warsaw Ghetto was the largest ghetto in all of Europe.

  • At one point more than 400,000 Jews were all crammed into the ghetto.

  • Six to seven people would have to fit in one small apartment.

  • Over 80,000 Jews died in the ghetto.

  • The sewers were a popular hiding spot to escape deportation.
To Live and Die with Honor: The Story of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising - Short

Conclusion

In conclusion, the uprisings that took place, not only in Warsaw, but all over Europe, had major impact on World War II. It inspired many foreign militias and even other ghetto resistance groups to get involved and stand up to the Nazi Germany. Yes, they didn't come out victorious most of the time, but it was the heart they put in to standing up to such a powerful force that will make these small uprisings like Warsaw a monumental part of Holocaust.

Links to More Info

http://www.ushmm.org/wlc/en/article.php?ModuleId=10005188 :
The United States Memorial Museum offers great information about the persistence groups and about the deportations of the Warsaw Ghetto. Along with many great facts about the specific generals and leaders involved with the groups and the Nazi Leaders overseeing the ghetto.

http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/warsaw-ghetto-uprising-begins :
History.com has a great detailed description of how the actual uprising started and how it ended. And it also says a lot about the resistance groups and how they attacked the Nazi forces and really put a halt on operations in the ghetto many times, along with information about the small confrontations that happened between the resistance and the Nazi soldiers before the uprising occurred.

Citations

Altman, Linda Jacobs. "The End of the Ghettos." Resisters and Rescuers: Standing up against the Holocaust. Berkeley Heights. NJ: Enslow, 2003. 37-39. Print.


American Experience. "The Warsaw Ghetto Uprising." PBS. PBS, Web. 28 Jan. 2016. <http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/amex/holocaust/peopleevents/pandeAMEX103.html>.


Jewish Resistance Fighters. Digital image. Warsaw Ghetto Uprising. Polish Greatness, 1 July 2010. Web. 29 Jan. 2016. <http://www.polishgreatness.com/warsawghettouprisingphotogallery.html>.


Jews Being Searched Before Deprtation. Digital image. Warsaw Ghetto Uprising. Polish Greatness, 1 July 2010. Web. 29 Jan. 2016. <http://www.polishgreatness.com/warsawghettouprisingphotogallery.html>.


Nazis on the Rampage. Digital image. Warsaw Ghetto Uprising. Polish Greatness, 1 July 2010. Web. 29 Jan. 2016. <http://www.polishgreatness.com/warsawghettouprisingphotogallery.html>.


To Live and Die with Honor: The Story of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising - Short. YouTube. YouTube, 4 Apr. 2013. Web. 014 Feb. 2016. <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qhlwy6d8vBk>.


United States Holocaust Memoral Memorial Museum. "Warsaw Ghetto Uprising." Holocust Encylopedia. United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, 2015. United States Holocaust Museum Memorial. Web. 22 Jan. 2016. <http://www.ushmm.org/wlc/en/article.php?ModuleId=10005188>.

"Warsaw Ghetto Uprising Begins." History.com. A&E Television Networks, 2010. Web. 25 Jan. 2016. <http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/warsaw-ghetto-uprising-begins>.