80th Anniversary Commemoration of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising

It is a symbol of resistance. The Polish capital is commemorating the 80th anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising that was wiped out by the German Nazis. Municipal alarm sirens and church bells in Warsaw rang out at noon on Wednesday to kick off the celebration of the greatest and most well-known fact of Jewish urban resistance against the Nazis during World War II.

During this revolt, which broke out on April 19, 1943, several hundred Jewish fighters attacked the Nazis to die with weapons in hand rather than in an extermination camp. Israeli Presidents Isaac Herzog and German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier, accompanied by their Polish counterpart Andrzej Duda, appeared together in front of the monument to the Heroes of the Ghetto, opposite the Polin Museum of the History of the Jews of Poland, located on the site of many clashes during the uprising.

paper daffodils

The German president is the first head of state of this country to speak in this place. In the afternoon, the three presidents must go together to a synagogue in Warsaw. Across the city, as in years past, more than three thousand volunteers have started handing out paper daffodils for people to hang on their jackets and coats. It is in memory of Marek Edelman, the last commander of the Jewish uprising, who died in 2009, who used to mark each anniversary of the uprising by laying alone a bouquet of these yellow flowers at the foot of the memorial to the Heroes of the ghetto.

By color and shape, the daffodils recall the yellow star whose wearing was imposed on the Jews by the Nazis. Leaflets briefly recalling the history of the uprising, in Polish, Ukrainian and English, accompanied the daffodils. This year, the tradition has spread to other cities across the country. “We plan to distribute together 450,000 paper flowers. This number symbolizes that of Jewish women and men locked up in the Warsaw ghetto at the time of the greatest overcrowding, in the spring of 1941”, explained to journalists Zofia Bojanczyk, coordinator of the “Daffodils” project.

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13,000 people killed on the spot

A year after invading Poland in 1939, the Nazis marked out an area in Warsaw to crowd into three square kilometers nearly half a million Jews, to exterminate them by starvation and disease, and to deport more than 300,000 to gas chambers at the Treblinka death camp, 80 kilometers east of the capital. The Warsaw ghetto was the largest of all the ghettos during World War II.

At the time of the outbreak of the insurrection by a few hundred Jewish fighters, approximately 50,000 civilians were still hiding in cellars and bunkers in the ghetto. About seven thousand people were killed during the fighting while six thousand others died following the fires started methodically by the Nazis throughout the district, which immediately became a field of ruins. The survivors were sent to camps. Many events of all kinds, meetings with survivors, concerts, film screenings, theatrical performances, have been planned this year to mark the anniversary.

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