On April 19, 1943, under the command of SS General Juergen Stroop, Nazi tanks entered what remained of the Warsaw Ghetto to search out, arrest, and send the final 750 Jewish survivors to the death camp at Treblinka. However, the might of the Nazi death machine came up against one of the greatest acts of resistance by the Jewish people during World War II.
It took one month for the Nazis to put down the uprising and completely destroy the Warsaw Ghetto officially ending the uprising on May 16, 1943, though we know that a few Jews escaped to tell the full story through the sewers of the city.
In the history of the Warsaw Ghetto recorded in real time by Emmanuel Ringelblum, we read:
“Whomever you talk to, you hear the same cry: The resettlement never should have been permitted. We should have run into the street, set fire to everything in sight, have torn down the walls, and escaped to the Other Side. The Germans would have taken their revenge. It would have cost tens of thousands of lives, but not 300,000. Now we are ashamed of ourselves, disgraced in our own eyes, and in the eyes of the world, where our docility has earned us nothing. This must not be repeated now. We must put up a resistance, defend ourselves against the enemy, man and child.” (“Notes from the Warsaw Ghetto: The Journal of Emmanuel Ringelblum,” ed. and translated by Joob Solan. NY: Schocken Books, 1958, p. 326.)
Henrich Himmler had ordered the liquidation of the Warsaw Ghetto on April 19, 1943, one day in advance of Hitler’s birthday. When the Nazis entered the ghetto with their tanks, however, the 750 Jewish resisters attacked and burned their first tank. The Nazi soldiers were stunned and retreated.
I encourage you to read the complete story of the ghetto uprising in David Kopel’s article published on October 10, 2015 in the Washington Post, “The Warsaw ghetto uprising: Armed Jews vs. Nazis” (Opinion).
Temple Israel of Hollywood will commemorate Yom Hashoah this coming Sunday, April 23 from 4:30 PM to 5:45 PM. We welcome two survivors and a college student who grew up in our congregation who together participated in the Los Angeles Bureau of Education’s “March of the Living”.
As part of our commemoration, survivors, children of survivors, and grandchildren of survivors will kindle 6 flames in memory of those who perished.
The community is invited.