Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Poland Helps Jews Honor 65th Anniversary of Warsaw Ghetto Uprising Against Nazis

The Associated Press and MSNBC report that in Warsaw today Polish officials hosted Israeli President Shimon Perez and Jews from several countries to honor the memory of the Warsaw Ghetto uprising against Nazi troops, 65 years ago this week. The AP report says:

"The uprising was the first act of large-scale armed civilian resistance against the Germans in occupied Poland during World War II. On April 19, 1943, German troops started to liquidate the ghetto by sending tens of thousands of its residents to death camps. Several hundred young Jews took to arms in defense of the civilians. Outnumbered and outgunned, they held off German troops for three weeks with homemade explosives and a cache of smuggled weapons. The Nazis killed most of fighters and then burned down the ghetto street by street."

At the start of World War II the Jewish community in Warsaw alone numbered 400,000--the largest in Europe and behind New York the second largest in the world. This week's ceremonies began at the site where the Nazis sent more than 350,000 Jews by train to the Treblinka death camp, 60 miles to the Northeast.

The picture above shows Cantor Joseph Malovany from New York singing a prayer in front of the Warsaw Ghetto Heroes monument. Poland's chief orthodox rabbi, Michael Schudrich, read out the Kaddish, or Jewish prayer for the dead.

Survivor Hela Rufeisen, who took part in the fight as an 18-year-old and lived to tell about it, was one of the few ghetto-uprising survivors to attend.

The AP reported that "on Saturday, the last surviving leader of the ghetto's struggle, 89-year-old Marek Edelman, will lay flowers at the ghetto monument, and the Jewish community is planning a seder meal in memory of the ghetto victims."

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