Tag Archives | Warsaw Ghetto Uprising

Today in history: “Juden…waffen!”

From my article Armed Resistance to the Holocaust, 19 J. on Firearms & Public Policy 144 (2007). (For Polish translation click here).

On January 18, 1943, the Germans rounded up seven thousand Jews and sent them to the extermination camp at Treblinka; they killed six hundred more Jews right in Warsaw. But on that day, an uprising began. In the beginning, the Jewish Fighting Organization had about 600 volunteers; the Jewish Military Association had about 400, and there were thousands more in spontaneous small groups. The Jews had only ten handguns, but the Germans did not realize how under-armed the Jewish fighters were.
After four days of fighting, the Germans on January 21 pulled back from the ghetto, to organize better. Another diary written in the Warsaw ghetto exulted:

In the four days of fighting we had made up for the same of Jewish passivity in the first extermination action of July, 1942. Not only the Germans were shocked by the unexpected resistance, Jews too were astonished. They could not imagine until then that the beaten, exhausted victims could rise against a mighty enemy who had conquered all of Europe. Many Jews who were in the streets of Warsaw during the fighting refused to believe that on Zamenhof and Mila Streets Jewish boys and girls had attacked Germans. The large-scale fighting which followed convinced all that it was possible.

On February 16, 1943, Heinrich Himmler ordered that the Warsaw ghetto be exterminated on April 19. The plan was to give Hitler a Judenrein Warsaw as a present for his April 20 birthday.

On that night of April 19, the Warsaw Jews partook of the Passover Seder. Since September 1939, they had eaten the bitter herbs of slavery. Now, they were drinking the wine of freedom.

The Nazi Minister [...]

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