When I set out to compose this write up I realised I could ramble on and on, get upset, get angry and lose my sense of direction but I would not enlighten or teach you anything with by doing that. I have tried to maintain this as objective as possible, and hopefully have produced an informative essay that will not wound anyone sensibilities with regard to the place and events depicted.
The Warsaw Ghetto was established in 1939 after a three-week siege in which the German army took the city. The residents of the city in an armed militia tried to fight back but where out manned, out powered and out blasted by the German superiority.
Once the occupation was complete the dissemination of the Jews began and within weeks that erected a massive settlement called the Ghetto. Spanning a 16x16 block area it had no walls and no gates. The land used for the construction of the Ghetto was a poor area, already home to many non-Jewish Poles who were ordered out but allowed to take possession of the soon vacant rich Jewish homes, and businesses.
Residence was compulsory the Jews were allowed only to take a few basic personal items, all of them minor, clothes, small objects such photographs and suitcases were allowed. Jewellery was taken at the entrance.
Living conditions in the settlement were dire to say the least. Since no major supplies were allowed to be taken and few enough to be negligible were provided even caring for basic necessities became near impossible.
The accommodation itself was terrible; the Germans had erected new buildings with no care for the materials used the state they were in or the structures themselves. All of the buildings had rats and few lacked even full walls and roofs. To make matters worse the people in the Ghetto far outnumbered the houses, and there have been accounts recorded of up to seven or eight families living under the same roofs. All of these factors led to chronic epidemics across the settlement.
Meanwhile without the outlawing of Jewish owned stores the people struggled to get supplies and ration cards were not available for everyone, even the lucky ones often came back empty-handed. Malnutrition and starvation was common place. Work came from only factories that produced munitions and weapons for the war and even then it was for few and far between.
Even in their personal lives the inhabitants of the Ghetto suffered torment, elderly men where sometimes made to wash the street with soap and water without the aid of a simple brush, harassment by the soldiers was normal with such things as random beatings, the confiscation of anything they had and shaving their heads. It has to be said that this was a regime imposed on al non-German inhabitants of Warsaw, but those in the Ghetto suffered the worse, not just because of the discrimination but as well they were surrounded at all times by soldiers and could not avoid it.
On the 15th of November 1940 tall, barbed wire walls were erected around the Ghetto and all inhabitants were restricted inside. In less than a year the German army had decimated one of the largest independent sectors of the city and devastated a community.
After this hopes that the Ghetto was temporary accommodation were quickly disappearing. The feelings of the camp were that they were going to be worked to death or imprisoned there as slave labour. They were right in a way, the mortality rate in the Ghetto was as high as 80% and the population was indeed worked to death. What they did not know, or refused to believe was that this settlement was just a measure to keep them out of the way before they were sent to the so called Death Camps, or Concentration camps if they were lucky.
The enormity and horror of this idea was to much to believe and even the enlisted German soldiers working in the city did not know or believe these stories either. Over a hundred members of the community were shipped out every day to these camps, but the denial of information and the seemingly randomness of the chosen ones maintained the confused atmosphere and the rumours that they were to be reunited with them soon. In a way this was true.
On the 22nd of July of 1942 orders from above were sent to ship out as many of the remmaning 300,000 who had not died at the hands of disease or the soldiers to Trebinka. During this period over 6000 people a day were sent to the death camp. The Jews didn’t know what was happening but whispers and ghosts of rumours floated back and slowly the realisation sunk in that those 300 thousand people, the brothers, sisters, children and lovers, were not coming back.
Originally the Ghetto had been populated with over 500,000 residents, by 1943, April only 50 000 were left and these “lucky” ones who knew that they would not be so lucky for much longer. On April the 19th 1943 they decided to take their destinies in their own hands.
With virtually no weapons, no training and little ammunition for the weapons they did have they took to the streets and started fighting Warsaw Ghetto’s officials and commanders.
Fights and battles broke out on the streets and on nearly every corner, from windows high to gutter low blood was shed. In what should have been by all rules quick futile revolt lasted for nearly three weeks. During this time the size of the Ghetto had been reduced to an area measuring no more than 1000x300 yards.
They were finally defeated when the SS carried out a special operation in which they attacked with tanks, guns and flamethrowers. Nearly all of the fifty thousand were slaughtered and most the known leaders of the resistance were killed except for Marke Edelman, who is one of the few Jews who remained in Poland after the war. The rest of the survivors who managed were banned from the city. In the rest of the city Polish, civilians and soldiers almost 20,000 died during the uprising and the Germans systematically burnt or blew up the city, this was despite the fact the Jews received help only from the Communist Poles.
Until that day the Germans had been proud to say that they took Europe with no resistance expect by outside forces. In the Warsaw Uprising they were proved wrong.
The devastation of Warsaw, the city, itself and the Ghetto resulting form the revolt was incredible, most of it had been destryoed by the German army and the rest of the settlement lay in ruins. So much so that the very day after the defeat of Jews it was closed. The few remaining survivors were shipped to various camps to die in the hands of the Third Reich.
This is for NothingLasts4ever.