import uprising

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history meme | four out of ten moments

↳ Warsaw Ghetto Uprising (19 April 1943 - 16 May 1943)

The Warsaw Ghetto Uprising that occurred in the Warsaw Ghetto, the largest ghetto in German occupied Poland, in 1943 was the single largest Jewish revolt during World War II.

On 18 January 1943, the German forces began the second deportation of the Jewish in the Warsaw Ghetto. While families hid in “bunkers”, fighters of the ŻZW joined with the ŻOB and engaged the Germans in direct clashes. 5,000 instead of the targeted 8,000 were deported.

Hundreds were ready to fight. Both adults and children were armed with handguns, gasoline bottles, and few other weapons that had been smuggled into the ghetto by resistance fighters. Most of the fighters were not fighting to save themselves but instead they saw fighting as a battle to retain the honor of the Jewish people and to protest the world’s silence.

The ŻZW and the ŻOB took control of the ghetto soon after the fighting that occurred on 18 January. They built fighting posts and built prisons to hold and execute traitors and Nazi collaborators (including Jewish Police officers, member of the fake [German sponsored] resistance organization Żagiew, and Gestapo & Abwehr agents).

On 19 April 1943 — the eve of Passover — police and SS forces entered the Warsaw Ghetto, planning to complete the deportation of the Jewish inhabitants in three days, but were ambushed by Jewish guerrillas who fired and tossed Molotov cocktails and hand grenades from alleyways, sewers, and windows. Two vehicles were set aflame by insurgent petrol bombs. That afternoon, two boys took to the rooftops and raised two flags — A red and white Polish flag and a blue and white ŻZW flag. The flags remained on the rooftop for three days. The flags reminded hundreds of thousands of not only the Jewish cause but the cause and strength of the Polish.

As the battle continued in the ghetto, the Polish insurgent groups AK and GL engaged the Germans at six different locations outside of the ghetto walls between the 19 and 23 April. In one attack, three units of the AK joined up in a failed attempt to breech the ghetto wall with explosives. The ŻZW eventually lost all of it’s commanders and, on 29 April, the fighters of the organization escaped the ghetto through the Muranowski tunnel and relocated to the Michalin forest. This marked the end of the significant fighting.

On 8 May, the Germans discovered a large dugout at Miła 18 Street which served as a ŻZW command post. Most of the remaining leadership and dozens others committed mass suicide by ingesting cyanide. Deputy Mark Edelman escaped the ghetto with comrades through the sewers two days later. On 10 May exiled member of the Polish government, Szmul Zygielbojm, committed suicide in protest of lack of reaction from the Allied governments.

The uprising was officially suppressed on 16 May 1943 when the Great Synagogue of Warsaw was demolished.

It is estimated that 13,000 Jews were killed during the uprising and most of the remaining 50,000 inhabitants of the ghetto were sent to concentration and extermination camps. Only 17 Germans deaths were recorded, although it is suspected their are much more.

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On Jan. 9th, 1905, French revolutionary, anarchist and teacher Louise Michel died. Born in 1830, she became a teacher, albeit being violently at odds with Napoleon III and embraced feminism. In 1871, she played an important role in the uprising of the Commune de Paris which gained her the nickname of “the red virgin of Montmartre”. She was deported but could come back to France where she remained politically active. 

The Warsaw Uprising (Polish: Powstanie Warszawskie) was a major World War II operation by the Polish resistance Home Army (Polish: Armia Krajowa) to liberate Warsaw from Nazi Germany. The rebellion was timed to coincide with the Soviet Union’s Red Army approaching the eastern suburbs of the city and the retreat of German forces. However, the Soviet advance stopped short, enabling the Germans to regroup and demolish the city while defeating the Polish resistance, which fought for 63 days with little outside support. The Uprising was the largest single military effort taken by any European resistance movement during World War II.

The uprising began on 1 August 1944, as part of a nationwide plan, Operation Tempest, when the Soviet Army approached Warsaw. The main Polish objectives were to drive the German occupiers from the city and help with the larger fight against Germany and the Axis powers. Secondary political objectives were to liberate Warsaw before the Soviets, to underscore Polish sovereignty by empowering the Polish Underground State before the Soviet-backed Polish Committee of National Liberation could assume control. Also, short-term causes included the threat of a German round-up of able-bodied Poles, and Moscow radio calling for the Uprising to begin.

Initially, the Poles established control over most of central Warsaw, but the Soviets ignored Polish attempts to establish radio contact and did not advance beyond the city limits. Intense street fighting between the Germans and Poles continued. By 14 September, Polish forces under Soviet high command occupied the east bank of the Vistula river opposite the insurgents’ positions; but only 1,200 men made it across to the west bank, and they were not reinforced by the bulk of the Red Army. This, and the lack of Soviet air support from a base 5 minutes flying time away, led to allegations that Joseph Stalin tactically halted his forces to let the operation fail and allow the Polish insurrectionists to be crushed. Arthur Koestler called the Soviet attitude “one of the major infamies of this war which will rank for the future historian on the same ethical level with Lidice.”

Winston Churchill pleaded with Stalin and Franklin D. Roosevelt to help Britain’s Polish allies, to no avail. Then, without Soviet air clearance, Churchill sent over 200 low-level supply drops by the Royal Air Force, the South African Air Force and the Polish Air Force under British High Command. Later, after gaining Soviet air clearance, the US Army Air Force sent one high-level mass airdrop as part of Operation Frantic. The Soviet Union refused to allow American bombers from Western Europe to land on Soviet airfields after dropping supplies to the Poles.

Although the exact number of casualties remains unknown, it is estimated that about 16,000 members of the Polish resistance were killed and about 6,000 badly wounded. In addition, between 150,000 and 200,000 Polish civilians died, mostly from mass executions. Jews being harboured by Poles were exposed by German house-to-house clearances and mass evictions of entire neighbourhoods. German casualties totalled over 8,000 soldiers killed and missing, and 9,000 wounded. During the urban combat approximately 25% of Warsaw’s buildings were destroyed. Following the surrender of Polish forces, German troops systematically leveled another 35% of the city block by block. Together with earlier damage suffered in the 1939 invasion of Poland and the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising in 1943, over 85% of the city was destroyed by January 1945, when the course of the events in the Eastern Front forced the Germans to abandon the city. (x)