photography by swartz



16. Destruction of the Warsaw Ghetto


On September 21, 1939, by the order of Heydrich, ghettos, each under the governance of the Judenrat (Jewish Council), were to be established in occupied Poland. The first ghetto was established in Piotrkw Trybunalski on October 8, 1940. The ghettos of Łdź, Lublin, Radom, Warsaw, and Lvov soon followed.

Prior to the war, Warsaw was the center of Jewish life in Poland and contained the greatest concentration of Jews in Europe. On November 16, 1940, the Nazis sealed off a large section of central Warsaw, where they forced all the Jews of Warsaw and surrounding areas to live. More than 400,000 Jews were shut off from the outside world by the eleven miles of ghetto walls and fences. At first, some Jews were able to work outside the walls in the "Aryan" sector, returning to the ghetto at night. But soon total isolation ensued as the ghetto was permanently sealed.

On April 19, 1943, the eve of Passover, the Jewish fighters in the Ghetto using makeshift guns and arms rose in revolt against the Nazis. After four weeks of fighting, Jrgen Stroop, the Nazi officer in charge of the destruction of the Warsaw ghetto, decided to force out the remaining fighters by burning down the ghetto. The Ghetto was set aflame and destroyed on May 16, 1943. Stroop reported to Hitler, "The Jewish quarter of Warsaw no longer exists."

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Last modified: 07/15/03