‘Glory to the Heroes’: Warsaw Marks 79th Anniversary of Jewish Fighters’ Ghetto Uprising
The 79th anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising against the Nazi occupation was commemorated in the Polish capital on Tuesday, as sirens rang out at midday to commemorate the occasion.
A ceremony at the Warsaw Ghetto Heroes monument was attended by Polish President Andrzej Duda along with representatives of the government and the Warsaw municipality. Poland’s Chief Rabbi Michael Schudrich recited the Kaddish, the traditional Jewish mourning prayer.
In a post on Facebook, Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Marowiecki declared: “Glory to the heroes of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising who showed us that the struggle for a just cause, namely, freedom and fundamental human rights, is never hopeless and lost.”
Polish media carried lengthy articles on Tuesday revisiting the dramatic uprising in the Warsaw Ghetto in April 1943 by about 700 armed Jewish fighters. The basis for armed resistance had been laid the previous year, when two main groups of Jews in the ghetto vowed to resist further deportations to the concentration camps. Armed men and women from the Jewish Fighting Organization (ZOB), which drew together Labor Zionist and left-wing organizations, and the Jewish Military Union (ZZW), which recruited from Revisionist Zionist circles, held out for a month against a heavily armed German force led by the SS commander Jürgen Stroop, who attempted the wholesale liquidation of the ghetto on April 19, 1943 — the eve of the Passover holiday.
In a 1946 report on the uprising, written on the instructions of the US forces who captured him in Germany, Stroop remarked that the ghetto fighters had united both Jews and Poles against the Nazis. “During the operation, the Polish and Jewish flags were hoisted from time to time on the insurgents’ positions,” Stroop recalled. “As far as I remember, blue-and-white colors were hoisted, some of them bearing the Star of Zion.”
Many of those in attendance at Tuesday’s ceremony displayed yellow daffodils to honor the dead, a tradition begun by the late Marek Edelman, one of the leaders of the uprising. Designed to solemnly recall the “Judenstern” — the yellow “Jews’ Star” which the Nazis compelled Jews to wear on their outer clothing — the paper daffodils were distributed to passersby by volunteers at subway stations and other locations in Warsaw.