Notes From the Margins…

Remembering the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising

  • April 19, 2013
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Today is the seventieth anniversary of the Jewish uprising in the Warsaw Ghetto, which began on April 19, 1943, when German troops and police entered the ghetto to deport its surviving inhabitants to the Treblinka concentration camp.

For the best part of a month, seven hundred and fifty heavily-outnumbered Jewish fighters, together with some members of the Polish resistance fought with smuggled and homemade weapons against a mixture of Waffen-SS, Gestapo, and Lithuanian, Latvian and Polish police, under the overall command of SS Brigadeführer  Jürgen  Stroop (third on the left).

Juergen Stroop (third from left), SS commander who crushed the Warsaw ghetto uprising. Warsaw, Poland, between April 19 and May 16, 1943.

Stroop’s forces took nearly a month to crush what he called ‘Jews and Polish bandits’, fighting street by street and burning buildings to flush out the resistance from underground bunkers.

On May  16, 1943, the revolt was finally crushed and the last Jews surrendered.   13,000 Jews were killed during the uprising.   56,000 were rounded up in the aftermath, most of whom were sent to Treblinka, Majdanek and other camps for extermination or forced labour.

Rounded up: The Uprising began on April 19, 1943, led by a less than 1,000 Jewish resistance fighters, but was crushed by Hitler less than a month later



This is what the victors left behind them, after completing the destruction of the largest Jewish community in Europe:

Tomorrow is Hitler’s birthday, and the Danubia fraternity – an umbrella organization of far-right groups in Germany – is staging a conference ‘to teach young people about issues such as democracy’ in Munich to coincide with the event.

German rightwing extremism is only component of a fascist resurgence fuelled – as it was in the 1930s – by economic collapse, poverty and social implosion, whether in Greece…

Foreigners have been attacked, homosexuals chased and leftists assaulted. Some...

Or Hungary…

20110525-hungarian neo nazi

Racism always forms new tributaries from one generation to the next, forging new rationalisations and new objects of hatred;  Jews, Muslims, Roma, Rohingya, Palestinians, or simply ‘immigrants’.   But its consequences are always the same; victimisation, marginalisation and persecution; the dehumanisation of ‘the Other’; ghettoisation, separation, expulsion, and – at its furthest extreme, genocide.

 No society is immune to these tendencies…

Falasha Jews protest in Israel 2010



All the more reason to pause and remember the Jews of Warsaw who once refused to be walled in, and chose to die fighting rather than in the gas chambers – and this poster, published by the ZOB ( Å»ydowska Organizacja Bojowa), Jewish Combat Organization, which fought in the uprising:

File:Plakat wydany przez Zydowska Organizacje Bojowa.png
‘ All  people are brothers;
Yellow, brown, black, and white.
Talk of peoples, colors, races –
Is all a made-up story!’


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  1. Nik H.

    21st Apr 2013 - 9:42 pm

    You might be interested in this book: “Conversations with an Executioner” by Kazimierz Moczarski.

    The communists in post war Poland found it funny to put him in a cell together with Herr Stroop for quite a long time. Moczarski was part of the AK and had taken plart in the 1944 uprising. To get to know that creature Stroop through the eyes of this outstanding man makes one of the strangest but also greatest reads. I highly recommend it to you, that is if you haven’t read it anyways already.

    • Matt

      22nd Apr 2013 - 5:17 am

      I hadn’t heard of this Nik. Sounds really interesting. Thanks!

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About Me

I’m a writer, campaigner and journalist.  My latest book is The Savage Frontier: The Pyrenees in History and the Imagination (New Press/Hurst, 2018).  The Infernal Machine is where I write on politics, history, cinema and other things that interest me.

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