Warsaw Ghetto Part II

The uprising in the Warsaw ghetto: Part II

The final liquidation of the ghetto and the beginning of the uprising

Already on April 18, the Polish "grenade police" and Ukrainian auxiliary detachments received orders from the German command to encircle the perimeter of the ghetto. The militants of the Jewish Combat Organization and the Jewish Military Union, upon learning of this, prepared to meet the enemy. The ghetto became extinct - the inhabitants hid in prefabricated shelters, there was not a soul left in the streets. The combat groups took their pre-allocated positions: the Anielewicz group was located near the main entrance to the ghetto, the Marek Edelman group at the brush factory. The militants were instructed by the commandant of the insurrection to act not according to the situation, but solely by the earlier given orders - to keep the positions at all costs.

At 6 am on April 19, German and Latvian SS troops with a total strength of up to 800 soldiers entered the ghetto. Ferdinand von Sammern himself commanded the operation. It is worth noting that the SS men, among whom were up to 80% of the recruits, entered the ghetto area in the formation, foot on foot and with the song as if it was a parade. In the middle of the column, dividing it into two parts, a tank was driving. Not meeting any resistance, the SS entered the street, where their friendly chorus was interrupted by an automatic burst. It was shot by someone from the combat group, commanded by Mordechai Anielewicz himself.


"Die Juden happen Waffen!" - There was a desperate cry from one of the Germans, realizing that this time they were trapped. A hail of bullets, homemade grenades, and Molotov cocktails fell on them. It was impossible to hide in the courtyard adjacent to Malaya Street - the insurgents barricaded all entrances.
In the very first minutes of the battle, the Jews managed to burn the tank. The immobilized car was not a cover, but an obstacle to the retreat, which was the only way for the SS in this situation. After throwing their weapons, the Germans and Latvians rushed back to the main entrance to the ghetto. Street fighting, to which the rebels were preparing for several months, lasted about 40 minutes and ended for them a complete victory.
Colonel von Sammern was immediately removed from the management of the operation to eliminate the ghetto. In his place appointed General Jürgen Stroop, who by that time had established himself as a ruthless executioner. Being more experienced in conducting punitive operations and suppressing various kinds of armed performances, Stroop changed tactics.


                                                                 Yurgen Shtrop 1945

On the same day, the second attempt was made to attack the ghetto. Now the soldiers no longer entered the ceremonial ranks but moved around the ghetto with short dashes. Preliminary artillery preparation was conducted - the ghetto was fired from large-caliber howitzers. This time the Germans managed to penetrate far enough into the territory of the final quarter, having seized the hospital. In the captured hospital, the Germans staged a massacre, sparing neither the sick nor the attendants.
Then the Germans tried to consolidate the success and seize the nearby quarters, but met with stiff resistance from the Jewish Combat Organization. The militants hastily built a barricade blocking the street of Zamenhof, and they took a fight that dragged on until evening. In the end, the Germans retreated from the ghetto. The day ended with the victory of the Jews over the Germans.
In the evening of April 19, a flag with the Star of David appeared over the ghetto. He was hung out by members of the Jewish Military Union. According to the chronicler of the Warsaw ghetto Emmanuel Ringelblum, a white and red flag of Poland developed alongside the Jewish flag. This version finds its confirmation in the postwar memories of Stroop.


On April 20, in the morning, Stroop sent a dispatch to Himmler, informing him of the events of the previous day (including the flag over the ghetto). Having received the message, the Reichsfuhrer came to indescribable frenzy and ordered to suppress the insurrection, no matter what it cost immediately.
Around noon a small detachment of Germans tried to enter the ghetto from the Krasinski Square. In that part was a factory of brushes, where Marek Edelman's group held the defense. The Germans were sure that the Jews who worked at the company would not support the uprising and would immediately surrender. However, a few moments after the last German was in the plant; there was a powerful explosion. It was the same mine laid a few weeks earlier. Only a few managed to escape from there alive. Fragments of bodies blown up by a mine of soldiers blast wave carried to the Aryan side. In response, the Germans resumed firing artillery. Realizing that this time positions will not be retained, Marek Edelman gives his militants an order to retreat to the central ghetto with attics.
At the same time, Mordechai Malevich's group fought near the main gate of the ghetto. The militants were opposed by the Corps of Ukrainians and Estonians. For about six hours the battle exhausted the adversaries and forced them to retreat from the ghetto. In this fight, the militants also burned another German tank. The retreating Ukrainians left many weapons, which the insurgents lacked.

The highest point of the uprising is the participation of the Jewish Military Union

ПMurano's Square became another battleground in the ghetto. There, between April 19 and 27 (according to other sources, until April 25), the Jewish Military Union opposed the SS forces. EBU was prepared for the uprising much better than the Jewish Combat Organization. At their disposal, there were up to 200 fighters, a large number of rifles, machine guns, and two machine guns. Also, the EBU fighters did not experience any problems with ammunition. That is why the battle on Muranovskaya Square became a kind of apogee of the uprising.
Having occupied advantageous positions, the EBU fighters for a very long time confidently repulsed all attacks of SS men. In this battle the army of Craiova took part. Taking advantage of some lull, members of the Polish underground tried to undermine the fragment of the ghetto wall, but, being noticed by the Germans, they could not complete what had been started. Two AK fighters died on the spot; another five were wounded. The homemade bomb, which is a door frame hung with dynamite, was blown up five meters from the wall of the ghetto. The explosion was not loud enough to make a hole that would allow some of the Jews to flee. Shooting back, the members of the Army retreated.
Militants EMU meanwhile continued to repel the attacks of the SS, causing them significant losses. Only after the massive artillery fire, the Germans managed to take the operational height and gain a foothold on Muranovskaya Square. Then the militants split into several free groups, exhausting the Germans with constant sudden attacks, using tunnels and underground passages under the buildings.


On the night of 25 (or 27) April, a small group of EBU fighters led by Pavel Frenkel left the ghetto and moved to the Aryan side, using a previously prepared tunnel. The team of David Apfelbaum continued the struggle, but only until the death of his commander - April 28. After that, the group was also partially evacuated to the Aryan side. This is the end of the EBU's participation in the uprising. Many contemporaries condemn them for their indifference to the fate of the remaining Jews of the ghetto. Whatever the case, the EBU's goal was to inflict maximum damage on the enemy with subsequent retreat and evacuation to the Aryan side, which was done.

Ghetto in the Fire


Beginning on April 23, the Germans switched to methodical shelling of the ghetto from heavy artillery and aerial bombardment, as a result of which a large part of it glowed brightly. Jews who were hiding in houses and attics were doomed. Now in the ghetto there were only three types of shelters - cellars, underground caches, and sewerage. The tactics of the insurgents also changed. It was no longer possible to hide on rooftops and attics, so Anelevich decided to sit out in the shelters during the day and go out on patrol at night. And the patrol carried out small groups of 5-6 fighters in each.
The Germans also no longer sent large groups of soldiers to the ghetto. After the shelling of howitzers and bombardments from the aircraft in the course of the flamethrowers. SS men slowly and methodically destroyed the ghetto, setting fire to the house behind the house. All workers of the factory of brushes, as well as workers of the Robbins and Schulz factories, were sent to the Komsomol. A small part of them went to forced labor, most of them to Treblinka-2. The same fate awaited the surviving members of the Jewish police and the Judenrat. Now the Jews could not save anything. By the end of April, the Germans had transported about 35,000 people to Treblinka. The ghetto gradually turned into a heap of smoking debris. Separate detachments of militants continuously fought with SS men.
Having destroyed practically all the buildings in the ghetto, the Germans began to search for bunkers and caches with the help of acoustic devices. The shelters of the insurgents were found one after another and destroyed with particular cruelty. Most often the Germans threw caches of grenades and let in a poison gas. The largest bunkers were on the streets of Franciscan, Gensei, Nalevka, Seniors, Valova, and Mila.
Fires continued in the doomed ghetto, covering all the new quarters. May 3, the Germans found a bunker on the street. Franciscan. The battle for this shelter lasted more than two days. The groups Marek Edelman and Hirsch Berlinsky took part in the defense. Having repulsed all attacks by the Germans, the surviving militants moved to the bunker on Malaya Street 18, where the headquarters of the Combat Organization was at that time. In the "staff" shelter, in addition to ventilation, a water pipe, a bathroom, electricity generators, food supplies and drinking water, one could find ... a patience house ruled by a muscular Jewish gigolo (according to Marek Edelman's recollections). Such a good shelter was prepared for members of the local criminal group, who agreed to admit not only rebels but also some civilians. In total there were about 280-300 people in the bunker.




Meanwhile, the situation in the rest of the ghetto became critical. The Jews practically did not have ammunition and food, and the Germans continued to find their shelter. The denouement was getting closer. Then, without waiting for any news from the Aryan side, Anielewicz decided to send a new liaison there - Kazik Catalyzer. He had to find Antek Tsukerman and prepare the evacuation of the fighters of the Jewish Combat Organization.
Antek Zuckerman moved to the Aryan part a few days before the uprising began. His mission was to find ways out of the ghetto for members of the Jewish Combat Organization and as many civilians as possible. The beginning of the uprising took him by surprise. The Craiova army broke off all contact with the Jewish underground, fearing deco inspiration. Antek was on the Aryan side, without contact with the Combat Organization, without contact with the Army Craiova, without direct orders from Anielewicz and without the opportunity to get back into the ghetto.
On May 1, Kazik managed to get out on the Aryan side, using a dig in Muranovskaya Square, through which the EBU militants left the ghetto. Having found Tsukerman, Kazik was taken aback - for two weeks on the Aryan side, that was not able to prepare anything. Falling into despair, Antek, according to his recollections, was not able to concentrate on anything. Contact with the Army Craiova was lost, the Polish speech of Zukerman immediately betrayed a Jew in him, many connected Jewish Fighting Organization arrested the Gestapo.
Eighteen years old at that time, Kazik had to perform an incredibly difficult task - practically alone to organize an escape from the ghetto for his brothers in arms. The only way to return to the ghetto is to get there through the sewers (it was not possible to get a large group of people through the underground passage of the EMU because of constant shelling). Built in the tsarist time, the lead systems enveloped Warsaw with a multi-kilometer network, which was now a chance for salvation for many Jews. Hastily the escape plan was developed: Kazik returns to the ghetto, finds the surviving militants and leads them to the Aryan side through the sewage system. Then, under cover of night, the protesters will leave Warsaw and join the partisan movement.
In the implementation of this plan Catalyzer was helped by the case: using his "Aryan" appearance, his impeccable Polish and manners of the Warsaw gentleman, he managed to get out to representatives of the Polish Communist Party, one of whom was personally acquainted with the "blackmail King." This "king of blackmailers" helped Kazik find people among the workers of the Warsaw sewer system, who agreed to spend it in the ghetto with channels for a fee.
Naturally, in no case was it possible to admit the real purpose of its mission. The official version was that Kazik is a member of the Krajowa Army and is going to save the Poles who are stuck in the ghetto.


In the canals of Warsaw

On May 8, Kazik, accompanied by two "conductors," went to the ghetto through the sewage system, taking with him a bottle of vodka and a revolver. Threatening a pistol, he forced his companions to go forward when they prematurely began to consider their work done. Toward the night, Kazik managed to penetrate the ghetto, which by that time was already destroyed. He did not know that just on May 8 in the bunker in the street Malaya 18 most of the representatives of the Jewish Combat Organization committed suicide.
The Germans found the command post of the Organization already on May 7, on the night of May 8, the storm of the bunker began. Realizing that there is no way out, Arie Vilner was the first to commit suicide. His example was followed by Mordechai Anielewicz and his girlfriend Mira Fruchter, and then other people who were there. In total in the bunker on the street Milo Kazik counted more than 200 bodies, only half of which he managed to identify. In total, in the devastated ghetto, he managed to find about ten people - members of the military organization, which he decided to bring to the Aryan side.
Having descended into the canal and after more than a kilometer in the direction of the Aryan side, Kazik's group met with Marek Edelman's group. It turned out that Edelman did not wait for Kazik and decided to get out in the Aryan part on his own. In his group, there were about 40 people. On the morning of May 9, the organized group was on the Aryan side, but it was not possible to leave the canal - in the light of the day, the evacuation of the militants was too risky. Kazik went out alone, ordering the rest to wait.
Meanwhile, the Germans began artificially raising the water level in the canals, realizing that sewerage is the only way out of the ghetto. Then the poison gas, which quickly spread through the sewers, went into circulation. The situation of those who remained in the canal became hopeless. Then Kazik decided to take a desperate step - to evacuate in the daytime, right under the nose of the Germans, counting on the effect of surprise - after all; the Germans obviously did not expect such boldness from the Jews.
To the alleged place of Exodus (Prostate str., 55), a truck was ordered (under the pretext of transporting furniture), but instead of loading furniture into the open body of the car, Jews started jumping in the last 48 hours in the sewers. Zuckerman kept the driver at gunpoint all the time. Kazik also kept his revolver ready. At a critical moment, an officer in the "grenade" police noticed the animation on the street. Kazik immediately jumped to him and assured that an operation of the Polish armed underground was taking place before his eyes. Hearing this, the policeman pointedly turned away, making it clear that he was not going to tell the Germans what he had seen.

The whole action lasted about forty minutes, which could not help attracting the attention of many onlookers. The further stay in the crowded street was contrary to all the rules of conspiracy and security, and Kazik insisted that the truck immediately gets under way. Trivia Lubetkin - one of the participants of the escape - categorically objected to this, since not all the militants managed to get out of the sewer system. The verbal skirmish lasted just over a minute - Kazik's position took the upper hand. The truck started. An hour later the group was already at a safe distance from Warsaw, in the forest. The remaining members of the group were liquidated by the Germans a few minutes after the truck left.

End of liquidation of the ghetto



On May 16 the Warsaw Great Synagogue, erected in 1877, was blown up. The process was personally led by Jürgen Stroop, who received thanks from Himmler for successfully suppressing the Jewish uprising. The territory of the ghetto was carefully guarded, any unauthorized penetration threatened violators of death. Nevertheless, back in June 1943, a group of militants continued to operate in the ghetto.
None of the Germans dared enter the territory of the former Jewish quarter, for fear of "Jewish spirits." Most surviving participants in the uprising in the Warsaw ghetto took part in the Warsaw uprising in 1944. The experience of the Jewish militants in moving around the city by underground canals was adopted by members of the Krajowa Army, which allowed the evacuation of many people from the old part of the city covered by the uprising.
Yitzhak Antek Tsukerman and Tsivaya Lubetkin were married and immigrated to Israel in 1946.It is their testimony played a significant role in the trial of Adolf Eichmann - the chief logistician of the Holocaust. Shimon "Kazik" Catalyzer also immigrated to Israel, where he was actively involved in a military conflict with the Palestinians the rank of lieutenant. He is still alive the last participant of the uprising in the ghetto. Marek Edelman remained in Poland, died in Warsaw in 2009 by 91 year of life.
Jürgen Stroop was extradited to Poland and executed in 1952. As material evidence against him was presented to his diary, in which he described in detail the whole process of the uprising in the ghetto
As for the loss of the Germans, according to reports of the same bail, in the fighting in the ghetto were killed 17 SS men. This figure is very improbable, even if Strop meant Germans exclusively. The preceding description of the event gives reason to believe that the losses were ten times higher, but no official confirmation, unfortunately, did not survive.
What was the purpose of this rebellion? Chance of winning was no. Possibility to leave the ghetto was only in units. The uprising in the Warsaw Ghetto was a kind of cry from the heart of desperate people, the opportunity to die with cherry, with arms in their hands, rather than in the gas chamber.
Warsaw Ghetto Uprising became an example for all Jews (and not only) of occupied Europe. The subsequent ghetto uprising in Vilnius and Bialystok had much greater success. Rebellion broke out in "death camps." There are new militant organizations who began a guerrilla war against the invaders. Besides all this, the image of militant Jewish Fighting Organization has been actively used after the war, in the newly formed State of Israel. Action from the ghetto became a kind of a household name, "a Jewish Rambo" who challenged the much stronger enemy and was not afraid to die that only in the fight. The uprising in the Warsaw Ghetto was the starting point in In the formation of a "Jew of a new generation", a Jewish warrior, but that's another story.


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