When you enter the main gallery of the Dallas Holocaust Museum/Center for Education and Tolerance, you’ll see that the exhibit space is divided into three areas, each describing a different event that happened during the Holocaust on April 19, 2014.
One of the events described is the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising. After the German invasion of Poland in 1939, more than 400,000 Jews from Warsaw and surrounding areas were confined to an approximately one-mile square area of the city. The ghetto was sealed closed with barbed wire and a 10-ft wall, and the Nazis imposed the death penalty on any Jews found outside its gates.
Meager food allotments by the Nazis in the ghetto – only 1,125 calories a day per person – lead to widespread starvation. Approximately 83,000 Jews died of hunger or disease between 1940 and mid-1942. Jewish organizations within the ghetto set up welfare organizations to help inhabitants, preventing even more deaths.
The Nazis began a “resettlement” program in the summer of 1942 and had deported 300,000 Jews from the ghetto by that September. It did not take long for word to spread among the remaining Jews in the ghetto that their friends, family and neighbors had not been resettled. Most had been murdered at the Treblinka Death Camp.
The last inhabitants of the ghetto decided they had to resist all future deportations. During one round up in January of 1943, rebels fought the Nazis and badly wounded a German soldier. The Nazis temporarily halted the deportations.
With a new SS police leadership in place, the Nazis returned on April 19, 1943 with the intention of liquidating the ghetto. They were met by approximately 750 Jewish resistance fighters armed with small weaponry, including Molotov cocktails and other improvised arms. The resistance fought for a month against the well-armed Germans before the operation concluded. Approximately 42,000 Warsaw ghetto survivors were sent to forced-labor camps at Poniatowa and Trawniki and to the Lublin/Majdanek concentration camp. Another 7,000 died during the uprising and 7,000 more were put to death at Treblinka.
To learn more about the story and hear about Dallas-area Warsaw ghetto survivors, please visit the Museum.
Source: United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
— Katie Menzer, staff writer for the Dallas Holocaust Museum/Center for Education and Tolerance