Report by Hitler’s ‘Executioner of the Warsaw Ghetto’ to go on public display
A report documenting the suppression of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising in 1943 by one of Hitler’s most brutal SS henchmen is to be included in the permanent exhibition of the new Warsaw Ghetto Museum.
The historically priceless document, which is one of the most important sources documenting the extermination of Polish Jews during World War II in occupied Poland, was handed over to the museum today on a long-term loan by the Institute of National Remembrance.
The report written by SS General Jurgen Stroop for SS chief Heinrich Himmler in May 1943 and entitled “The Jewish residential district in Warsaw no longer exists!”, is considered one of the most important German documents from the Holocaust.
Many of the photographs in the report have come to symbolise the Holocaust and are permanently inscribed in the consciousness of people all over the world.
Consisting of 126 sheets and containing 31 of Stroop's daily reports and 53 photographs, the report details the course of the Jewish uprising, a list of the units used in the operation along with a list of people involved, as well as the reality of fighting in the ghetto.
The Stroop report also shows the German way of thinking in the context of the tragedy of the Jewish people.
One report reads: “The main group of Jews, mixed with Polish bandits, withdrew to Muranów Square already on the first or second day of the fighting. There they were armed by a large group of Polish bandits.
“This group decided to fortify themselves in every possible way to stop us from further penetrating the ghetto. They erected two Jewish and Polish flags on the roof of the concrete building as a signal to fight against us.
“These two flags were captured on the second day of the action during the rally of a special combat group.”
In 2017, the document was entered on the World List of the UNSECO "Memory of the World" Program. Stroop's report, due to the circumstances of its creation and its subject matter, is on the list of ‘bad documents’, testifying to the infamous aspects of history.
Dr Mariusz Szpytma, deputy director of the Institute of National Remembrance, said at the handing-over ceremony on Thursday: “The report is one of the most important that we have in the Institute […] it is strong proof, though we have plenty of other proof, that the Holocaust was an undertaking of the Third Reich state.”
Referring to the photographs in the report, he added: “People often view the fate of the Jews in the Holocaust through the prism of photos from this report, often they are not even aware that the photographs come from the Stroop report.”
The document will go on public display at the Warsaw Ghetto Museum, which will open in the specially reconstructed 19th-century children's hospital at ul. Sienna and Śliska streets in the former ghetto.
Albert Stankowski, the director of the Warsaw Ghetto Museum said at the ceremony that “the Stroop report is the most important object in the museum’s permanent collection.”
Jurgen Stroop was known as the executioner of the Warsaw Ghetto. He was responsible for crushing the rebellion in the Warsaw Ghetto, which lasted from 19 April till 16 May 1943.
When German forces were forced back by heavy Jewish resistance, he ordered the entire ghetto burned down. Afterwards, in his famous report to his superior, SS-Obergruppenführer F.W. Krüger, and Himmler, Stroop boasted that "the Jewish Quarter of Warsaw is no more".
For leading the German troops in the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, Stroop was decorated with the Iron Cross 1st class. His report was made in triplicate: one for Himmler, one for Krüger, and one for himself.
After the war one report was confiscated by U.S. troops. Later it played a major role in the Nuremberg Trials. Stroop never denied the authenticity of the found version.
All three copies of the report have survived to this day. They are currently located in the National Archives of the United States in Washington, D.C., the German Bundesarchiv in Koblenz and the Institute of National Remembrance in Warsaw.
The Yad Vashem institute in Jerusalem said of the report: “We have a close look at how the Jews were removed from the bunkers in their underground hiding places, how the buildings were set on fire, Jews who were captured, demolitions, etc.
“Moreover, the album contains many photos of Stroop while he was attempting to put down the rebellion – a fact that indicates his desire to sing his own praises through the photos.”
The Warsaw Ghetto Museum is currently under construction. It is set to become one of the most important institutions showing the fate of Polish Jews during the Holocaust. The museum is due to open in 2023, on the 80th anniversary commemoration of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising.
The museum will be located in the buildings of the former Bersohn and Bauman Children's Hospital in Warsaw at 51 Śliska street and 60 Sienna street.
The report and its digital version can be viewed on the IPN website http://pamiec.pl/ftp/ilustracje/Raport_STROOPA.pdf.