world war ii: battle of warsaw

Polish-Jewish Literature: I Had Dream by Itzhak Katzenelson

I had a dream,
a terrible dream:
my people was no more, my people
disappeared.
I rose screaming:
Ah! Ah!
What I have dreamed
is happening now!
Oh, God in heaven! –
Shuddering I shall cry:
what for and why
did my people die?
What for and why
in vain did it die?
Not in a war,
not in battle …
the young, the old,
and women and babies so little – –
are no more, no more:
wring your hands!
Thus I’ll cry in sorrow
both day and night:
What for, my Lord,
dear God, why?

Itzhak Katzenelson (1886-1944) - One of Poland’s Jewish poets and dramatists who wrote in both Hebrew and Yiddish. Prior to World War II he wrote mostly for children. During the war he was consigned to the Warsaw Ghetto and later to the camp at Vitel in France, whence he was sent to Auschwitz where he perished.

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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.

Polish Literature: The Rats Remain by Anna Świrszczyńska 

In this city
there are no more people.

Sometimes a cat
with burnt eyes
crawls out from an alley
to die.

Or a rat
scuttles to the other side of the street.

Or the wind moves
a page in a book on the pavement
and knocks the window
with the glinting shard of glass.

During the Nazi occupation of Poland she joined the Polish resistance movement in World War II and when the Germans decided to destroy Warsaw in 1944, she became a front-line nurse in a battle that saw the city leveled and 250,000 Poles die. Thirty years after the war, she published a book of poems about her experiences in that slaughter. It is called Building the Barricade.

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The Most Badass Looking War Machine of World War II,

Truly an intimidating sight to behold, the Sturmtiger was a heavy assault gun tasked with providing fire support for infantry.  During close quarters urban combat situations such as those experienced by Germans soldiers at Stalingrad, it was found that it was much easier to demolish a heavily fortified building rather than storm and capture it with infantry.  The Sturmtiger ( Sturmmörserwagen 606/4 mit 38 cm RW 61) was a heavily armored assault gun designed to do just that.  It was also designed to destroy other heavily defended structures such as bunkers and pillboxes, clearing the way for an infantry assault.

The Sturmtiger was built on the chassis of a regular German Tiger tank (Panzer VI) using it’s hull and suspension.  The main armaments of the Sturmtiger was its 380mm (15 inch) gun, a gun that didn’t fire conventional shells but instead was a launcher for massive 829 lb rockets, either high explosive or shaped charges for fortifications.  Ideally, the rockets could penetrate 2.5 meters of reinforced concrete and had a range of over 6,000 meters.  To supplement the main gun, the Sturmtiger was also armed with a nasty 100mm grenade launcher and a 7.92mm MG-34 machine gun.  Since the Sturmtiger was designed to be used in close quarters urban combat, it was armored to take one hell of a beating.  Side armor was 62mm thick as was also rear armor. Frontal armor was 100mm thick, but could be supplemented with a 50mm plate, thus totaling 150mm.  Altogether this massive steel beast weighed 68 tons.

The first Sturmtigers were deployed in August of 1944, a time when Germany was no longer on the offensive but desperately trying to hold ground on all fronts.  Thus, the Sturmtiger had little practical use due to its offensive nature.  However they were used extensively during the Warsaw Uprising, which involved much of the close quarters urban combat that it was designed for.  They were also used during the Battle of the Bulge, and in some battles in the last months of the war.  Between 1944 and 1945, only 19 were produced.

German Aviator Lt. Josef Mai, recipient of the Iron Cross (first and second class) who during the Great War was credited with 30 aerial victories. He fought during the German offensive for Paris, and fought around Warsaw on the Eastern Front in 1915. Later fighting on the Western Front would have him involved with dogfights during both the Battle of Verdun and Battle of the Somme. During World War II, he was a flight instructor for the Luftwaffe.

He died in 1982, at the age of 94.