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1943: Germans crush Jewish uprising
All resistance in the Jewish ghetto in Warsaw has ended after 28 days of fighting.

In his operational report, the local SS commander, Brigadier Juergen Stroop, said the uprising began on 19 April when SS, police and Wehrmacht units using tanks and other armoured vehicles entered the ghetto to take Jews to the railway station for transportation to concentration camps.

They were repelled by Jews using homemade explosives, rifles, small arms and "in one case a light machine-gun".

He said his troops were involved in pitched battles day and night with groups of about 20 or 30 Jews - both men and women.

"On April 23 Himmler issued his order to complete the combing out of the Warsaw ghetto with the greatest severity and relentless tenacity. I therefore decided to destroy the entire Jewish residential area by setting every block on fire."

The last battle ended with the destruction of the Great Synagogue today.

They used to board up the windows [of the trams] so you couldn't see how the Jews were being treated.
Jewish leaders had sent their own reports of the situation during the fighting.

On 28 April the Central Committee of Jewish Labour and the Jewish National Committee in Poland sent a desperate message to the National Council of Poland in London.

It said the SS and German Army have laid siege to the ghetto, attacking the 40,000 remaining Jews with artillery, flame-throwers, high explosive and incendiary bombs.

They have also planted mines in buildings known to harbouring Jewish fighters, while German guards block large drain pipes that have served as escape routes.

"The ghetto is burning," read the message, "and smoke covers the whole city of Warsaw.

"Men, women and children who are not burnt alive are murdered en masse." It said the Jews managed to kill or wound about 1,000 of the enemy and burned down factories and warehouses.

There was an appeal for an immediate response from the Allies. "It is imperative that the powerful retaliation of the United Nations shall fall upon the bloodthirsty enemy immediately and not in some distant future, in a way which will make it quite clear what the retaliation is for."

A second message sent on 11 May said the resistance was nearly over.

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Watch/Listen
SS soldier inspects Jewish workers - April 1943
The German SS and Wehrmacht has ended all resistance in the ghetto

Anonymous eyewitness account of the defeat of Jewish resistance



In Context
The Nazis created the Jewish ghetto in Warsaw in 1940 and about 500,000 people were crammed into an area not bigger than one square mile (26 sq km).

Its inhabitants were systematically transported to Treblinka and those who fought in the legendary Jewish uprising would rather have died with dignity than be taken to the death camps.

About 50 of the 1,000 fighters escaped through the sewers and some fought in the second Warsaw uprising by the Polish Home Army in August 1944.

About 40,000 Jews were massacred in reprisal for the uprising. When Soviet troops liberated Warsaw on 17 January 1945 only about 200 Jews remained and the old city had been virtually destroyed.

Stroop's copy of the operational report entitled "The Jewish quarter in Warsaw no longer exists" came to light during the Nuremberg war crimes trial in 1945.

Stroop himself was sentenced to death by a US military tribunal and sent to Poland to be executed in 1951.

Stories From 16 May


 
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