Last commander marks 1943 Warsaw ghetto uprising

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  1. syscom3

    syscom3 Pacific Historian

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    Last commander marks 1943 Warsaw ghetto uprising - Yahoo! News

    by Jonathan Fowler Sat Apr 19, 4:17 PM ET

    WARSAW (AFP) - The last commander of the 1943 Warsaw ghetto uprising, Marek Edelman, on Saturday honoured the memory of his comrades who died fighting Nazi Germany in the doomed Jewish stand against the Holocaust.

    Joined by family members, hundreds of bystanders and city officials, Edelman marked the 65th anniversary of the revolt at the imposing monument to the ghetto fighters, unveiled in 1948.

    Braving driving rain, the silent participants first laid flowers at the monument.

    The frail Edelman, 85, was then pushed in his wheelchair to the site of the bunker where the leader of the revolt, 24-year-old Mordechaj Anielewicz, and 80 comrades had committed suicide as Nazi forces closed in.

    The crowd then walked to the site of the "Umschlagplatz", the railway siding from which the Nazis sent more than 300,000 Jews to the Treblinka death camp in northeastern Poland.

    Edelman, who took command after Anielewicz's death, rarely attends high-profile official ceremonies, preferring to remember his comrades in a lower-key fashion on April 19, the day the revolt actually began.

    This year's official event was held on Tuesday, in the presence of Poland's President Lech Kaczynski and Israel's Shimon Peres.

    That ceremony had been brought forward because the actual anniversary fell on a Saturday, which is the Jewish Sabbath.

    On the eve of World War II, Poland was Europe's Jewish heartland.

    It was home to 3.5 million Jews, and Warsaw alone had a community of around 400,000.

    After invading Poland in 1939, Nazi Germany set up ghettos nationwide to isolate the country's Jews and facilitate the "Final Solution" -- half of the six million Jews who died in the Holocaust were Polish.

    At its height, more than 450,000 were crammed into the walled Warsaw ghetto.

    About 100,000 died inside from starvation, disease and in summary executions. Most of the rest were sent to Treblinka in mass deportations which began in 1942.

    In the ghetto, a handful of Jewish paramilitary groups, mostly made up of young people -- Edelman was just 20 -- coalesced into a poorly-armed force of around 1,000.

    The banner of one group was a blue Star of David on a white background, which caused Nazi ire when it was hoisted during the revolt. It became the flag of Israel.

    On Saturday, youths handed out paper armbands emblazoned with the symbol, which participants wore as they formed a human chain around the monument while sirens wailed and a Polish army honour guard fired a salute.

    The ghetto fighters first clashed with the Nazis on January 18-22, 1943, managing to hinder the deportations.

    On April 19, 1943, they took up arms again, as the Nazis moved to wipe out the remaining 60,000 ghetto dwellers.

    "We knew perfectly well that there was no way we could win," Edelman told AFP in a recent interview.

    "It was a symbol of the fight for freedom. A symbol of standing up to Nazism, and of not giving in," he said.

    The fighters held out as 3,000 Nazi troops razed the ghetto with explosives and fire.

    Following Anielewicz's suicide on May 8, Edelman and several dozen comrades escaped through the sewers. The Nazis marked their "victory over the Jews" by blowing up Warsaw's main synagogue on May 16.

    Around 7,000 Jews died in the revolt, most of them burned alive, and more than 50,000 were sent to Treblinka.

    Besides denting the Nazis' sense of superiority, the fighters managed to inflict some damage, killing and injuring a combined 300 troops.

    Sporadic clashes continued in the ghetto ruin until the autumn.

    Edelman and many other survivors later took part in the Warsaw uprising, launched on August 1, 1944 by the Polish underground.

    That failed 63-day revolt and the Germans' brutal response cost the lives of 200,000 civilians and 18,000 resistance members, and saw the near-total destruction of Warsaw by the Nazis.
     
  2. Konigstiger205

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    May all their souls rest in peace!They earned it...:salute:
     
  3. DerAdlerIstGelandet

    DerAdlerIstGelandet Der Crew Chief
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  4. v2

    v2 Well-Known Member

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    :salute: The Ghetto Fought for Honour :salute:

    'How terrible that sense of helplessness was. How terrible was the sense of fate that the last, desperate Jewish fighters felt', Israeli President Shimon Peres said in front of the Ghetto Fighters Monument in Warsaw to a crowd of several thousand invited guests and several hundred Varsovians.
    Around the monument in Warsaw's Muranów neighbourhood, the crowd had been getting thicker by the minute since early morning. On the fenced square and the commons with a blue tent, where the construction of the Museum of the History of Polish Jews is soon to begin, the invited guests were gathering: Jewish and Polish veterans, Polish and Israeli youth.

    Extraordinary security measures had been put in place, which meant that ordinary Varsovians could not participate in the event. They were separated from the main proceedings by a double fence line raised quite far from the monument. The site was surrounded by a police cordon and guarded by a SWAT team. 'They've overdone it. It looks like a siege or something', a gentleman in a light-coloured trench coat complained, trying to see anything of the celebrations beginning in the distance.

    Minutes after 12.00 a bugle announced the arrival of Israeli President Shimon Peres and his Polish counterpart, Lech Kaczyński. They were greeted by waving white-and-blue Israeli flags and white flags with a red Star of David held by the Jewish youth.

    Lech Kaczyński recounted in his speech the history of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising. 'It was hell. Their situation was hopeless. And yet they fought - not for victory, but for honour. In the name of all Poles, I make an obeisance to them', said the Polish President.

    Shimon Peres started his speech by reading out an excerpt from the memoirs of a fighter surrounded in a bunker by the Nazis. 'How terrible that sense of helplessness was. How terrible was the sense of fate that the last, desperate Jewish fighters felt', President Peres read. And he went on, from himself, 'We want revenge, but a different kind of revenge. Our revenge is our desire of peace, it is the emergence of the Jewish state, which leads in the world'.

    Ms Stanisława Frycz-Ścibor was invited as one of the Righteous Among the Nations. 'I'm here every year. When I was five, my family was expelled after the Warsaw Uprising to Milanówek. There we gave shelter in the basement to three Jewish children', she said. 'I live nearby and whenever I see a tour, I approach them to tell my story. So that it never happens again'.

    Those present listened to the kaddish, the prayer for the dead. It was told by Michael Schudrich, the Chief Rabbi of Poland. The El Malle Rachamim psalm was sung by the great cantor Joseph Malovany of New York.

    After the ceremony, the two heads of state went to visit Irena Sendlerowa, who saved thousands of Jewish children during the war.

    After the Presidents left, actor Daniel Olbrychski started reading out the names of the 15,000 fighters who died in the Ghetto Uprising. 'A deeply moving experience, comparable to that I felt in 1980 when reading out the names of fallen shipyard workers during the unveiling of their monument in Gdańsk', Mr Olbrychski told Gazeta. At 15.00, the names started to be read out also in two of Warsaw's busiest spots - on Chmielna street, and at the plaza in front of the Centrum underground station. Among those reading out the names was Anna Lec. 'I came here specially for the celebrations from Denmark. I emigrated there in 1968', she told Gazeta.

    source: Gazeta Wyborcza

    pics: Getto 1943
     
  5. Pisis

    Pisis Active Member

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    S! עַם יִשְׂרָאֵל חַי
     
  6. RabidAlien

    RabidAlien Active Member

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