Israeli, Polish presidents pay tribute to 1943 Jewish Warsaw ghetto fighters

Posted: Friday, May 09, 2003

WARSAW, Poland (AP) In a solemn commemoration, Israeli President Moshe Katzav and his Polish counterpart, Aleksander Kwasniewski, paid tribute to the heroism of fighters in the 1943 Jewish Warsaw ghetto uprising and to other victims of the Nazi Holocaust.

The presidents retraced the steps of hundreds of thousands of Warsaw Jews who were imprisoned in the ghetto between 1940 and 1943. They also lit candles at the Umschlagplatz memorial, site of the platform where Jews boarded trains to death camps.

Katzav and Kwasniewski also led some 3,000 Jews from around the world on the annual March of the Living from the former Auschwitz death camp to the gas chambers at Birkenau, where more than 1 million Jews perished.

Holocaust survivors, Polish war veterans and hundreds of Israeli and Polish youths attended the ceremonies.

In the uprising, hundreds of young fighters resisted deportation by taking up arms on April 19, 1943, knowing they didn't stand a chance. They held off the Nazis for three weeks with homemade explosives and smuggled weapons.

The struggle ended when the Nazis burned down the ghetto street by street, killing the fighters and thousands of others. A couple dozen Polish Jews escaped through sewers to the other side of the ghetto wall and went into hiding.

Before the Nazi invasion of Poland, Warsaw's Jewish community of more than 380,000 was Europe's largest. By 1943 at least 350,000 had been sent to death camps or died in the ghetto of starvation and disease.

Subscribe to Peninsula Clarion

Trending this week:


© 2018. All Rights Reserved. | Contact Us