Warsaw Ghetto Uprising commemorated on 80th anniversary

Presidents and Holocaust survivors and their descendants commemorated the 80th anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising on Wednesday with a poignant sense that the responsibility for carrying on the memory of the Holocaust is passing from the witnesses to younger generations.

Steinmeier stated, “I bow before you as German Federal President and pay respect to the brave fighters of the Warsaw Ghetto.” “I bow in deep sorrow to the dead.”

Poland, which had the largest Jewish population in Europe before the war, and was subjected by the Nazis to massive death and destruction during the invasion, is responsible for preserving places like the Auschwitz concentration camp and ghetto, and honoring those who suffered the most. Approximately 6 million Polish citizens died during World War II, with about 3 million being Jews and the rest being mostly Christian Poles.

Steinmeier stated, “Dear President Duda and dear President Herzog: Many people in Poland and Israel have given us Germans the gift of reconciliation despite all these crimes.” Steinmeier called this a “miracle” that should be preserved for future generations.

Many of the people who attended the observances on Wednesday came from Australia and the United States. They wanted to pay tribute not only to those who died, but also to the rich Jewish culture that is part of their heritage. Many people hold private ceremonies to pay tribute to the dead at the Jewish Cemetery or various memorials in the ghetto grounds.

Avi Valevski is a professor of mental health from Israel, whose father Ryszard, who was a doctor and led a group that numbered 150 in the rebellion, visited Warsaw along with his wife. He described it as “more emotional than a moment.”

Valevski is 72 and he’s working to continue a story that his father never told him, but which also has an emotional weight. Valevski was young when he lost his father in 1971. Today, he is poring over the documents his father left and trying to publish one of his stories.

Valevski stated, “He was proud of his battle against the Nazi beast — his words. But I guess that feeling of apprehension has entered my soul up until now.”

In 1939, the Germans invaded Poland and set up a ghetto in the following year. It was the largest ghetto in the occupied Poland.

At its height, it housed half a million souls. It was initially home to 380,000 Jews living in cramped quarters. The streets were littered with bodies and disease was rampant.

After 265,000 men women and children, rounded up and murdered at Treblinka in the summer 1942, the Jewish resistance in the Warsaw Ghetto grew. The Nazi genocide became more widely known, and those who remained in the Warsaw ghetto no longer believed German guarantees that they would be sent into labor camps.

Small groups of rebels began spreading resistance calls, committing isolated acts of sabotage or attacks. Some Jews started to defy German orders that they report for deportation.

The uprising started when the Nazis invaded the ghetto, on the evening of April 19, 1943. This was the night before Passover. The Nazis lit the ghetto on fire three days later. It was a death trap. But the Jewish fighters fought for nearly a whole month until they were defeated. This was a longer period of resistance than many countries.

“I am a New Yorker, but something keeps me coming back here,” said Barbara Jolson Blumenthal. Her parents, who were killed by other family members, survived the Warsaw Ghetto because a Pole helped to hide them on the “Aryan side” of the city.

Blumenthal said, “And even though such terrible things happened here I remember my parents telling me that they loved this place, that it was wonderful here. I walk down the street and wonder if it’s where my family walked and was,” Blumenthal.

More Stories

Stay informed by joining TruthRow

24/7 coverage from 1000+ journalists. Subscriber-exclusive events. Unmatched political and international news.

You can cancel anytime