The Ghetto Fights!

The Warsaw Ghetto Uprising refers to the armed resistance of the Jews in the Warsaw Ghetto in the early months of 1943. It should not be confused with the Warsaw Uprising of 1944, in which the non-Jewish Poles rose up against Nazi oppression (although some survivors of the Ghetto Uprising did join this fight). The latter was a bid for freedom, with a realistic chance of success; the former was the decision to die fighting, rather than accept death at the German execution camps.

In 1939 the Germans had invaded Warsaw and taken control of the city; by November of 1940 they had ordered all the Jews in the capital into a three mile square area, dubbed the Warsaw Ghetto. Whilst conditions were unbearable, with thousands dying from starvation and disease every month, there was little call amongst the Jews to rise up and fight the Germans. Why? For several reasons: firstly the Nazi propaganda machine had done an effective job of denigrating the Jewish race and breaking their spirit, secondly many pre-eminent Jews and potential leaders had fled or been killed, thirdly - and probably most importantly - they had no realistic chance of defeating the Germans by force, and fear of reprisals were great. That situation was to change.

Early in 1942 Berlin found the 'Final Solution' to the question of what to do with the Jews. During the course of that year the Nazis began an enormous operation, the purpose of which was extermination of an entire race. The Jews were transported in vast numbers, and terrible conditions, to death camps around Poland (those taken from the Warsaw Ghetto were mostly taken to Treblinka). This operation was carried out with so much speed and efficiency, and with an inhumanity that defied the belief of ordinary people, that hundreds of thousands were murdered before the remainder of the Jews finally accepted the fate in store for them. Meanwhile the Allies, who were also finally forced to believe the reports they were hearing, did nothing to help - later claiming that the only way to stop the German atrocities was to focus directly on winning the war.

So it was, outraged at the mass murder of their people and with nothing left to lose, the remainder of the Ghetto Jews decided to fight back with every means in their power, and whatever the consequence. They offered their first resistance on 18th January 1943, when a large group of Germans soldiers arrived intent on rounding up more Jews for deportation. In fact the Z.O.B (Zydowska Organizacja Bojowa, or the Jewish Fighters Organization) had been planning an attack on the Jewish Police (who collaborated with the Nazis) for the 22nd, but when the Germans marched into the Ghetto they decided to engage them in combat. A bloody street battle took place, in which the significanly inferior-armed Jews lost a great deal of their number. From then on the Z.O.B decided never to engage the Germans openly - where they were bound to lose - but engaged them in partisan warfare. Despite their losses on this day however, an important psychological blow was struck. The Germans could not have everything their own way. They were not invincible.

From that point until April the Germans deportation plans were delayed, Nazi collaborators killed, and the Z.O.B (along with other Jewish fighting forces) were in virtually complete control of the Ghetto. Meanwhile the Polish underground movement, impressed by the Jews courage, supplied the Z.O.B with more and better weaponry. In this three month period virtually all attempts to arrest and capture Jews failed, several Germans soldiers were killed, and a number of attempts to lure the Jews out, with promises of working in concentration camps in excellent and safe conditions, failed. The mood of the remaining Jews had turned from acceptance of their fate to defiance, and the Z.O.B enjoyed the support and co-operation of all the non-fighting Jews in the Ghetto.

Finally realising that the Jewish Uprising wasn't going to conveniently go away, the Germans arrived in considerable force in the early hours of 19th April with plans for the final liquidation of the Ghetto (ie. the rounding up of every remaining Jew for transportation to the death camps). Nearly a thousand troops marched into the Ghetto, certain that the Jews would either be unwilling and unable to offer them resistance, when they came in such large numbers. However the Z.O.B were now better armed - and more determined - than the Germans realised. As the Nazis advanced into a deserted Ghetto the partisans simply waited for the opportune moment to attack, at which time they reigned bullet and grenades on the exposed German patrols from the cover of tall buildings. The would-be capturers suffered heavy casualties and were forced to retreat. They failed to arrest a single Jewish civilian, all of whom had gone into hiding (mostly in underground bunkers which they had built for this purpose). This day is often cited as the start of the Ghetto Uprising.

After this initial set-back on the 19th, Himmler replaced the ineffective commander, Ferdinand von Sammern-Frankenegg, with Jurgen Stroop, who had experience fighting against partisans. He was urged by Himmler to act with whatever means necessary. In the days that followed Stroop ordered all the buildings of the Ghetto be set on fire, in order to flush out enemy soldiers. The quarter became one burning torch, full of flames and dense black smoke. Still the Jews refused to give in, maintaining their resistance and only giving up their positions at the last moment - many jumping from high floors of burning buildings. Most sought refuge in the bunkers, where conditions were hardly any better. Because of the intensity of the infernos the bunkers were unbearably hot and food and water was quickly spoiled.

By the 23rd of April any sizeable resistance was no longer possible. All that remained for the Nazis to do was uproot the Jews in the bunkers. Not that this was made easy for them. Forced out of hiding by poison or tear gas, the partisans would often come out firing; women were no less militant, and there were several examples of them hiding grenades in their underwear in order to throw them at German soldiers as they were being arrested. These were last ditch tactics however for a battle that was now lost. On the 9th of May the Nazis successfully stormed the Z.O.B's command bunker and on the 16th, the German Commander, Stroop, announced that the fighting was finished. To mark the end of the Uprising he ordered the Great Warsaw Synagogue on Tlomackie Street to be blown up.

Approximately 13,000 Jews were killed during the Uprising, with another 50,000 rounded up and deported to death camps. A few escapees continued to fight in the forests, whilst some who were arrested were later freed by the Polish underground forces and joined the Warsaw Uprising. An estimated 300 German troops died in the struggle.

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Sally from United Kingdom Reply Jul 7th, 2016

I am trying to find a book called Survivor, about a boy from Warsaw who lived in the sewers,I cannot remember the boys name but his Mums name was Zlatka

Some Random from United Kingdom Reply Nov 26th, 2015

Just a quick question as it may be a typo in your work or may prove this is not true. At the beginning you state it was the uprising of non-Jewish poles yet the article then changes to say it was the Jewish that fought and died? Confusing? Also do you have any sources at all? Thanks in advance

Oscar from United States Reply Apr 13th, 2015

'The Pianist' (2002) depicts some of this, except for the 6,000 per month death toll in Warsaw Ghetto - a food ration of 200 calories/day is unimaginable.

Ethan C. from United States Reply Jan 13th, 2015

this was a great place for me to go it gav me abunch of info i didnt even know existed!

zachary Brown from United States Reply Mar 14th, 2013

This was one the best sites for holocaust reseach EVER

keeley from United Kingdom Reply Feb 26th, 2013

thanks,this helped me in my history lesson ;)

Saints jerseys from United States Reply Jul 25th, 2012

As an American who left home to study abroad in France, I learned at an early age to question my assumptions and to gather information, as much information as possible, before forming opinions. I am now in my mid-40's and live in Rome, where I have perhhaps become too complacent and sit too comfortably in my chair of "enlightened" middle age. Thank you Mr Amar for waking me up.

Bubs69 from United States Reply Dec 20th, 2011

The Ghetto Uprising is a great display of human beings outnumbered, outgunned, but not outspirited put up a hell of a fight against far greater forces which ended in a greater mental victory than anyone could have known at the time. It goes to show that when people are at rock bottom and have nothing to lose they can still rely on human spirit to do whatever to make their presence known and that they didn't die for nothing. They could have no way of knowing that this uprising would make the world realize that Germans were not the super humans they thought they were and could be beaten in the battlefield. I have to hand it to the resistance they had heart, spirit and the will to not go down without a fight.

Joey from United States Reply Oct 16th, 2011

You Need More Information And Less Comments! Please!

Me Hehe from United States Reply Jul 26th, 2011

I find that Humans create all dificulties for one another. We all like to pass the buck on someone else. God was a creation made up by humans to control the masses. Germans are not the master race, there is no such thing. We are all the same garbage. We all are lied to and we continue this lie on and on. This whole human system way of existance is built on lies. Look at the simple fact of Santa Clause, Fairies, Mother Goose, and so on, we are all lied to from the beginning of this human race the rat race. No one human is better than the other. We are here on this prison planet sent here by someone much higher than ourselves. Like all prisons! we lie, cheat and steal. We are sofisticated theives and polished up cats and dogs. We humans think ourselves as great, Great Shit" as far as I can see. I have never been part of an orginization that humans have created and I never will, I'd rather die first. I hate all RATS. I don'work for a living, I have my own farm, people come to me for food and I get paid. A real honest job as far as I'm concerned. I have come here as a prisoner, and when I die I will leave as a Good man.

Lily from United Kingdom Reply Jun 21st, 2011

a wonderful site with very useful information, hopefully it will all stick in my head for my gcse exam tomorrow, thank you for the help and for allowing the memory of many Jews and many innocent german soldiers who had been given their orders to live on.

Jack from Antigua & Barbuda Reply May 29th, 2011

Great site, good information, very interesting. This is a part of history that can never repeat itslef, therefore it must always be taught and never forgotten. Treat everyone has your brothers and sister people, be kind!!!!!!!!

koda from United States Reply May 10th, 2011

- i feel so sorry for all them people and stuff, poor them..

Eony from United States Reply May 4th, 2011

The Jews have been through alot. There shall never be something so tragic as this to happen again to anyone.

angel from United States Reply Mar 24th, 2011

wow! so much the jews suffered! Their strong human begins, people to look up to..God bless them:)

Harold baumwald from United Kingdom Reply Dec 30th, 2010

things have now changed the jews will never again walk hand in hand to the gas chanbers even the smallest of us will be like a ten foot warrier we will fight!

Eunice from United States Reply Aug 15th, 2010

I have been reading about the history of this horrible event. As I read, I wondered why the Jews did not unite and fought together against the Nazis. This uprising is the only account I have found so far where they did. Thanks for providing this valuable information.

Stefania Tomazic from United States Reply Jul 16th, 2010

I have long admired the bravery of the people who fought in the Uprising. They sent the world a message that has always resonated: we are all people. And the human spirit does prevail. There was another uprising in Poland, led by Lech Walensa at Gdansk. He and the workers threw off the yoke. It is hard for the so-called "little guy" to step up and act. But it's harder to hide from the battle. That only puts one in more fear.

Lauren M. Mills from United States Reply Apr 13th, 2010

I've been interested in the Houlocust since I learned about it at school. I like it cause you really captured my atention. Superb Job!

charly smarjesse from United States Reply Mar 30th, 2010

after reading fatal voyage by dan kurzman i liked the writing style and read several other of his books including the bravest battle 28 days of the warsaw ghetto uprising. read this book and you will understand that what this truly was a modern day david and goliath.

Morgan from United States Reply Mar 4th, 2010

Thanks so much! This page is so very helpful and really captured the information i needed to understand.

Miguel from Colombia Reply Feb 12th, 2009

Creo que este articulo es muy interesante. Me pone triste tambien. Ojala que no pase otra vez.

kun ka from Albania Reply Feb 12th, 2009

"we as people need to come together as one"

emma from United Kingdom Reply Jan 9th, 2009

so y did the nazis and hitler hate the jews ,gypsies,homosexuals ,criminals,jehovahs witnesses what did they do to the nazis and hitler i would lliked to have been alive at that point to try and put a stop to it and british folk new about it and did nothing im so ashamed

Janessa from United States Reply Jan 8th, 2009

You Need More Information And Less Comments! Please!

JaZz from Australia Reply Aug 17th, 2008

Congrats to the conductors of this site, youve given me an insight to what life was like during ww2 and i only hope that such a thing will never happen to anyone again. We cannot change the past and bring back loved ones, but we can have an impact on our future, we can have a say on what there is to come. ww2 and the holocaust will always be remembered. Lest we forget. jazz

Psycho from United States Reply May 20th, 2008

Any One who knows any thing about the uprising Of War saw ghetto Talk To Me

Josh from United States Reply Apr 6th, 2008

I just saw a movie called "Uprising", and although I knew about the Warsaw Ghetto uprising years ago, there was so much that I did not know! We must never forget the bravery of the Jews who fought against such evil. Their courage will be remembered forever. Shalom...

Rachel from United Kingdom Reply Mar 29th, 2008

I found this information to be highly accurate and useful. I had an essay given to me and along with other information, this account was highly helpful and is some of the best notification about the uprising i have come across. Thank you!

David from United States Reply Mar 14th, 2008

the information you provide is very good but an important point you did not mention is that another Jewish armed fighting group, the ZZW (Jewish Military Union) was smaller but had good relations with with non-Jewish Polish underground fighters, had a tunnel connecting the ghetto to the non-Jewish section through which arms, ammunition, and some non-Jewish fighters provided much needed help to the Jewish fighters--the ZZW was fairly well-armed with machine guns, mines, rifles, and grenades and many Germans (hundreds) were killed by ZZW fighters--unfortunately, for political reasons (the ZZW was anti-Communist while ZOB was somewhat pro-Communist) after the war the Communist Polish government minimized the heroic deeds of the ZZW fighters and only a few of their members survived the fighting to tell their story--a recent book titled "Two Flags" by Marian Apfelbaum, a ZZW survivor, provides a good account of what happened in April, 1943.

interested personality from United States Reply Feb 1st, 2008

I thought this was very informing. Very traumatizing, and very detailed. Thanks so much, learned a lot, but still unsure if this information is accurate. Still, from what i have read here, i see this event was one of the most brutal in history and I feel its good we all learn about this.

hril from Belgium Reply Jan 22nd, 2008

this site good. great data. make me cry. ;[

William Thompson from United States Reply Jan 18th, 2008

I thought it was rather interesting to know that people with little chance, little ability, could face something so powerful. I am amazed by their courage and their tenacity to do such a task to hold the Germans for so long. Harsh times can show who is brave, and who isn't. Regardless, we should all wish that this will never happen again.

sadie from United States Reply Jan 8th, 2008

this helped alot!!!!! THANK SOOOOOOOO MUCH!!!!!!!!

Wolverine from United Kingdom Reply Nov 28th, 2007

I don't get it so many people have got killed and killed over and over again and the world is still over populated with the same people labelling themselves with sames religions, methods and dictation of fanaticism to each other. That could be Catholics, Moslems, Jews, Feminists, Homosexuals...etc They all have deprived emotions and they all want to take it out on the rest of the people who are happy. Whilst they all saying NOOoooo this is soemthing else it's the absolute truth and everyone has to join this cult!!!! Best is to find a way to avoid these personal bitternes of a uniform movements of pyschologically ill people as this will never end and it always come down to originally being a economical or geographical ownership conflict...just like the rest of the animals, except we are killing all of them too. Human is the most valuable you know, and their value amongst themeselves has also to be somehow calculated and prioritised.

Mike from United Kingdom Reply Oct 28th, 2007

This is a period of time that the world should learn a lesson from, but alas no lessons have been learnt.

Mandy Mallen from South Africa Reply Jul 27th, 2007

i dont understand where you find the conditions of the ghettos + designs!

Antonio Acevedo from United States Reply Jun 25th, 2007

We do not hear enough about the courage of the Jews that fought the Nazis in the Warsaw ghetto. Against impossible odds,they fought and died with dignity. History should never forget the bravery that these incredible people showed

shannen from United Kingdom Reply Jun 8th, 2007

it dont answer my question

hmedh from United States Reply May 23rd, 2007

It doesn't answer my questions

c mamali from Cyprus Reply May 15th, 2007

I call myself muslim and that really has nothing to do with the fact that as a child of God - as we all are - we should love and respect everyone no matter what their beliefs What happened to the Jews in the second world war is so traumatic and unacceptable and I would like to send out my love to all of those who died and survived and hope that God will guide those who believe killing or torture in any shape or form is justified to the right way. every time I look at a website that mention the Holocaust I cry inside. I imagine what it must have been like but I guess no one will ever really know what they felt when it happened. We get some ideas from films and books but no matter what we do we cant seem to eradicate racism, hate, anti-semitism anti muslimism anti catoliticism or any anti for any religion. People should never forget that we are all born as one in the eyes of God, but we all die under different circumstances due to the way we live. We should all be given the opportunity of living our lives to a ripe old age without the fear of being punished for being what we are. The only thing that keeps me going in life is the love and respect I have for life and hope that people around the globe will think and act in the same way. Many thanks May the loving light of God, Allah, Jehovah or whatever you may wish to call the almighty shine upon people around the world. PS As Jews you may never forget your loved ones But as an outsider to your faith I can tell I will NEVER forget them either.

The announcer guy from the movies from Philippines Reply May 10th, 2007

Ghetto in Poland fights back, and it causes a world of... darkness, fear, and................ death!!!! hahahahahahahaha just kidding loved it!!

joey from Philippines Reply May 10th, 2007

the polish underground did not really, and/or entirely supplied the jews with weapons. as i've read in a book, jews abroad (particularly those in USA & Britain) were sending the jews in the ghetto money for the weapons. as it was, since the jews have no better way to communicate with them, the money was being sent through the polish underground.the polish jews didn't receive the whole amount of money being sent to them because the polish underground takes more than half of the money. and the weapons they supplied the jews were not better, giving the jews guns of different calibres & not enough bullets either...forcing the jews to concoct weapons of their own (grenades made of gasoline inside a bottle w/ wicks, water pipes w/ different nuts & bolts that they can detonate).

Jose Medina from United States Reply May 8th, 2007

di site izz really cool but itzz bogus the way they treat the jews

DILLION from United States Reply May 8th, 2007

THIS IS A GOOD SITE

ivan from United States Reply May 7th, 2007

its really crazy once you think about it, how in the world are you crazy enough to threaten a lil kid wit a gun? thats just insane right there any way it reall y helped wit my project

mhs101-s2 from United States Reply May 3rd, 2007

this really helped me learn about what hitler did

mhs101-s2 from United States Reply May 3rd, 2007

i am suprised how many people got killed

-anonymous from United States Reply May 1st, 2007

thanx for the info. it was sweeet dude!!!

ang from United States Reply May 1st, 2007

this really helped me with my project thank yo so much!!!!

Badkid404 from United States Reply Apr 25th, 2007

this is really helpful, thanx for this, really helped with my project!!^^

CareBear from United States Reply Apr 23rd, 2007

dude!! this website is AWESOME!! omgsh!! its like the only 1 that has good info! ~~THANKS!~~

Chilango Reyes from Cameroon Reply Apr 6th, 2007

i really like this website

Rach from Australia Reply Mar 29th, 2007

helped me alot. much appreciated.

Faith Lee from United States Reply Mar 27th, 2007

I THINK IT WAS OK BUT THEY SHOULD NOT BE TREAT LIKE THAT , YOU WILL NOT WANT TO BE TREAT BAD.

chuck hooley from United States Reply Mar 12th, 2007

thiis real great.I loved it , it really help me out.

Mark Espinola from United States Reply Mar 4th, 2007

Jurgen Stroop paid for his horrific Nazi war crimes in Poland and Greece by being executed in Warsaw in 1951.

Terry from Canada Reply Mar 1st, 2007

Consistent figures are hard to find on this event - but one thing you've definitely got wrong: You say Stroop gave all the orders here and I've read his sworn affidavit. He said all the orders came from Kaltenbruner in Berlin to Hahn. Who ya gonna believe?

bob from United States Reply Feb 20th, 2007

this is so great i loved it WOW!!!!