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Anniversary of Warsaw Ghetto Uprising

Last Friday, April 19th, marked the first day of the month long 1943 Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, an armed uprising against Nazi attempts to transport all the Jews in the ghetto to death and labor camps.

By the summer of 1942, the Germans had contained the Jews from Warsaw, Poland and the surrounding areas into the Warsaw Ghetto, until 500,000 people were penned up in a space of 840 acres.  This area was initially surrounded by barbed wire but eventually a 10 foot high brick wall surrounded the ghetto.  Beginning in July 1942, the Nazis transferred an average of 5,000 Jews a day to Treblinka until by September 1942, only 55,000 Jews remained in the Warsaw Ghetto.  During this time, a resistance group began to form, the Jewish Fighting Organization, and in January 1943, when the Nazis resumed the deportation of Jews, they met with unexpected resistance.  Deportations were suspended until April 19, 1943, the eve of Passover, when Heinrich Himmler ordered the launch of a special operation to clear the ghetto.  Before dawn, 2,000 German troops surrounded the ghetto.  Expecting an easy victory, it took 28 days to either kill or transport the remaining 40,000 Jews though they had only a small armament with pistols and homemade bombs and one machine gun.

Evidence of the horrors of this event, and other Nazi atrocities, can be found in the testimony and documents which comprise the Nuremberg Trials.  The Nuremberg Trials are comprised of 65 volumes of material broken out into the Blue Series, the Red Series and the Green Series in addition to the indictments, one volume with a report to the Secretary of the Army, and the report of Justice Robert H. Jackson on the conference at which the procedures for Nuremberg were negotiated and established.  These volumes contain just a portion of the documents available to the prosecutors at these trials, but nonetheless the extent of the volumes themselves is formidable.

The Warsaw Ghetto Uprising is first mentioned in the second volume of the Blue Series on page 126 of this volume (page 131 of the PDF).  The prosecutor, Mr. Justice Jackson, is detailing “Crimes Committed Against the Jews.“  Jackson has this to say about the Uprising:

I shall not dwell on this subject longer than to quote one more sickening document which evidences the planned and systematic character of the Jewish persecutions. I hold a report written with Teutonic devotion to detail, illustrated with photographs to authenticate its almost incredible text, and beautifully bound in leather with the loving care bestowed on a proud work. It is the original report of the SS Brigadier General Stroop in charge of the destruction of the Warsaw Ghetto, and its title page carries the inscription, “The Jewish ghetto in Warsaw no longer exists.” …

We charge that all atrocities against Jews were the manifestation and culmination of the Nazi plan to which every defendant here was a party.

The final verdicts in the Nuremberg Trials were handed down on October 12, 1946 and 12 of the defendants were sentenced to death.

Nuremberg Trials, 1945-1946. [between 1945 and 1946]. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division. //hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/cph.3b33390

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