Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Warsaw Ghetto Uprising

In 1940 the Nazis started forcing Poland's 3 million Jews into a number of Ghettos. The largest of which was in the city of Warsaw which had approximately 400, 000 people packed into a small area in the centre of the town where thousands of Jews died due to disease and starvation.

When the first deportations from the Ghetto began the members of the Jewish resistance movement believed that the people were being sent to labour camps. By the end of 1942 over 300,000 Jews had been sent from the Ghetto to Treblinka.

On January 18th 1943 the Jews in the Warsaw Ghetto launched an uprising against Germany's plans to transport the remaining population to the death camp Treblinka. They killed Nazi collaborators and built dozens of fighting posts. However they had little or no arms and relied on Molotov cocktails and a few old pistols and revolvers.

Support for the uprising outside the Ghetto was limited but Polish Resistance Units and the Polish Communists attacked German sentries and attempted to smuggle weapons into the Ghetto. They didn't stand a chance against a daily force of 2,909 well armed German troops. But they certainly gave them a run for their money and were even successful in halting a German advance on the eve of passover in April 1943.

The Germans replaced the SS Commander with SS-Gruppenfuhrer Stroop who after his calls for surrender were rejected by the Jews began to systematically burn houses in the Ghetto block by block.

Approximately 13,000 Jews were killed during the uprising (6,000 of them either burnt alive or died of smoke inhalation) Most of the remain 50,000 inhabitants were captured and sent to Treblinka.

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