Sirens wail to commemorate Warsaw Ghetto Uprising anniversary
Sirens wailed across the Polish capital at noon on Tuesday to mark the 79th anniversary of the start of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising.
Flowers were laid at the Warsaw Ghetto Heroes monument by representatives of the Polish government, the Polish president and city of Warsaw. Also in attendance were delegations from both houses of the Polish parliament, as well as diplomats and representatives of the Jewish community.
Poland's Chief Rabbi Michael Schudrich said a prayer for the dead. People participated in the traditional Daffodil Campaign, in which they wore yellow daffodil pins in remembrance of the Uprising, and took part in a march along the Route of Remembrance of Warsaw Ghetto Heroes.
"Glory to the heroes of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising who showed us that the struggle for a just cause, namely, freedom and fundamental human rights, is never hopeless and lost," Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki wrote on Facebook.
"It is necessary to firmly oppose barbarity, evil and totalitarianism," Morawiecki said, adding that the Uprising had been an expression of anger against the criminal policies carried out by Nazi Germany.
The Uprising broke out on April 19, 1943, as the final phase of the ghetto's liquidation by the Nazis was taking place.
The insurgency, which lasted until May 16, 1943, was a symbolic act as it had no chance of success. In an uneven struggle, the poorly-armed fighters of the Jewish Combat Organisation (ZOB) and the Jewish Military Union took on the might of the SS and Wehrmacht forces, the Security Police and their auxiliaries.
The Uprising, which cost the lives of about 6,000 insurgents, ended on May 8, 1943 when its then commander Mordechaj Anielewicz, together with a group of ZOB soldiers, committed suicide in a bunker at 18 Mila Street.
Just a handful of fighters managed to escape from the burning ghetto through the sewers. Among them was the last commander of the Uprising, Marek Edelman.
What remained of the Warsaw ghetto was razed to the ground by German troops led by SS General Juergen Stroop, who, after having been tried in Poland for crimes against humanity, was hanged on March 6, 1952, in Warsaw's Rakowiecka St. prison.
The Warsaw ghetto was established on October 12, 1940. A German decree required all Polish Jews from Warsaw to move into a designated area, which German authorities had sealed off from the rest of the city in November 1940.
At its peak, the ghetto's population reached over 400,000 Polish citizens of Jewish descent. The first wave of mass deportations from the Warsaw ghetto to the Treblinka death camp started on July 22 and lasted until September 12, 1942, claiming the lives of some 300,000 Polish Jews.