October 2 Marks 72 Years Since the End of the Warsaw Uprising

Soldiers of the Polish Home Army during the Warsaw Uprising

Soldiers of the Polish Home Army during the Warsaw Uprising. By M. Swierczynski [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

October 2 marks 72 years since the end of the Warsaw Uprising. By August 1944, Poland had already endured five years of occupation by both the Germans and Russians. The Germans occupied Warsaw, and had already wiped out Warsaw’s Jews with the defeat of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising a year earlier. But the Russians had advanced to within ten miles of Warsaw, forcing German divisions into retreat. The Polish Home Army calculated an uprising would coincide with advancing Soviet troops planning to liberate Warsaw, and presumed the Soviets would move in to help defeat the Germans. It would be a deadly miscalculation.

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The Warsaw Ghetto Uprising began April 19, 1943

Modern day outline of the Warsaw Ghetto Wall

The Warsaw Ghetto Uprising began April 19, 1943. This noble ‘last stand’ by desperate Jews against the Germans became the first urban uprising in German-occupied Europe. Symbolically it stands as the most important Jewish uprising. It lasted less than a month and nearly all who participated lost their lives, but it inspired other uprisings at Sobibor and Treblinka and changed the story of millions walking in resignation to their death without a fight. 

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Niuta Teitelbaum, Heroine of Warsaw

niuta teitelbaum headshotNiuta Teitelbaum, aka Little Wanda With the Braids, was one of the earliest volunteers for the Polish underground soon after Warsaw fell to the Germans in October 1939. The petite twenty-two year old devout Jew wore her blond hair in pigtails, which made her look like a sixteen-year-old girl, effectively diguising her real role – assassin. She parlayed her innocent looks to gain entrance to Gestapo headquarters, and silently shot an SS officer as he sat at his desk. The episode is but one of her daring moves.

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Holocaust Remembrance Day For All Victims?

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Can we have a Holocaust Remembrance Day for all victims? The United Nations chose January 27 as the date for International Holocaust Remembrance Day, in honor of the day the Soviet Army reached Auschwitz-Birkenau in 1945, even though the war would not end for months. I mourn deeply, for I have walked the grounds of Auschwitz-Birkenau on a cold, fall evening, and felt the presence of ghosts from many nations, of different beliefs, and of different ethnicities.  It’s a statement of fact, that the number of victims identified in the “Holocaust” remains a subset of the full Nazi Genocide. I  hope that we can light a candle of respect to all victims. Remembrance. Respect. Honor.

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