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The Warsaw Ghetto Uprising: A Passover Awakening

Y.E. BELL

Why is this night different from all other nights?
Ironically, SS General Juergen Stroup pondered
that dilemma outside the walled and wircd ghetto of
Warsaw. He had unleased his Waffen-SS,SS police,
Lithuanian militia and Webrmacht for an aktion the SS
had a great deal of experience with. Things didn’t go as
planned.

On that 19.43 Passover night, pitiful remnants of
Polish Jewry made it clear that they had no intention of
boarding the Troblinka express. Jewish resisters, among
them children, took on the most powerful mechanized
fighting force on the European continent. “We had a
revoluer, a grenade and a whole group had two guns, and
some bombs, home made, prepared in a very primitive
way,” testified Zivia Lubetkin in Martin Gilbert’s The
Holocaust. Their explosive quake in Warsaw sent shock
waves all the way to Berlin.

A furious SS Reichsfuehrer Heinrich Himmler
ordered the ghetto liquidated, as Stroop put it, “with
ruthless and murderous tenacity.” The General zealously
went to work. “I therefor~ decided to destroy and burn
down the entire ghetto,” According to Stroop’s own recollec~
tion presented into evidence at the Nuremberg Trials and
documented in Chief Prosecutor Telford Taylor’s The
Inatomy Of The Nurembei-g Trials, “Jews usually left
their hideouts, but frequently remained in the burning
buildings and jumped out of the windows only when the
heat became unbearable … They then tried to crawl with
broken bones acl:oss the street into buildings which were not
afire. I

Feigele Poltel witnessed the ghetto ablaze while
hiding in “Aryan” Warsaw,” reports Gilbert. “On the balcony of the second floor a woman stood wringing her hands.
She disappeared into the building but returned a moment
later, carrying a child and dragging a featherbed, which
she flung to the pavement to break her fall. Clutching her
child, she started to climb over the railing. A spray of bullets caught her midway – the child dropped to the street
- the woman’s body dangled lifeless from the railing.”

Most who managed to hide in the sewers were
eventually driven out with tear gas. Many were shot
on the spot. Undaunted fighters, who evaded the
roundup, “were liquidated in sewers and bunkers
through blasting.” by Stroop’s own account.

- I I -

Armed with tanks, flame throwers, machine
guns, howitzers and artillery, the SS expected the
Warsaw cleanup to take three days. The defiant, abandoned, outnumbered and outarmed Jews frustrated
Hitler’s elite for nearly one month. In brutal streetby-street and house-to-bouse combat, the besieged
Jews left behind German and Lithuanian casualties
sprawled on the ghetto streets. “When we threw those
hand grenades and bombs, and saw German blood
pouring over the streets of Warsaw, after we saw so
much Jewish blood running in the streets of Warsaw
before that, there was rejoicing, “recalls Zivia. “The
rejoicing amongst Jewish fighters was great and to see
the wonder and the miracle – those German heroes
retreated, afraid and terrorized from the Jewish bombs
and hand grenades, home made.”

The SS General liquidated “a proved total of
56,065.” Jews mutilated in explosions, incinerated by
fires and buried under the rubble remain forever unaccounted. Ultimately, Stroop’s SS reduced some 900
years of Jewish vibrancy in Poland to ash with the
burning of the Warsaw synagogue on May 16, 1943.

So, when your child asks why this night is different from all other nights, tell the younger generation
about the Passover liquidation of the Warsaw ghetto.
Let children know that once upon a time there were
orphaned, starved, diseased, ragged and terrified
teenagers who proudly showed the Third Reich that
Jewish blood is not cheap. And after reciting Next
Year in Jerusalem, remind all that SS General
Stroop’s report, “Fs gibt heinen judischen wohnbezirk
in Warschau mehr! – There is no longer a Jewish
neighborhood in Warsaw,” remains a beguiling fantasy to Arabs, would-be “Fuhrers” and their sympathix
ers of what can be accomplished in Israel too.

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