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CULTURE & HERITAGE - Culture & History

ghetto 1Rafal Leskiewicz, in charge of the Polish Institute of National Memory presents the Nazi report on the annihilation of the Jewish Ghetto in Warsaw. © Image Globe


On Wednesday April 17th, 2013 the Polish Institute of National Memory (IPN) presented one of the two original copies of the report by the German commander of the Jewish Ghetto in Warsaw, SS General Jürgen Stroop, on the annihilation of the ghetto in April-May 1943.

This copy of the report, entitled by its author “Es gibt keinen jüdischen Wohnbezirk in Warshau mehr” (there is no longer a Jewish quarter in Warsaw), was addressed, in May 1943 to the SS Chief, Heinrich Himmler.

“This report documents how the Germans destroyed the ghetto in April and May 1943. It is a unique document presented on the 70th anniversary of the Ghetto Uprising”, stated Rafal Leskiewicz, one of the people in charge of IPN.

“It is also a direct insight that shows how the Germans committed war crimes by killing thousands of Jews. It is a unique report with texts and photos documenting the complete process of extermination of the Jewish population in the Warsaw Ghetto” he added.

The document contains 31 daily reports, written between April 20th and May 16th, 1943, and 53 photos illustrating the actions of the German forces.

The report contains, among others, the famous photo of a boy with his hands up, that became the world symbol of the suffering of Jews in the Warsaw Ghetto.

ghetto 2A second copy of the report, addressed to Adolf Hitler, is in the American archives.

Found by the Americans after the Second Word War, the report served as evidence in the Nuremberg trials in 1945 of some of the leaders of the Third Reich.

The commander of the Ghetto, Jürgen Stroop, was arrested by the Americans in May 1945 and then handed over  to the Polish authorities. Sentenced to death in September 1951, he was hanged on March 6th, 1952 on the site of his crimes.

On April 19th, 1943, young Jews in the Warsaw Ghetto decided to rise up against Nazi barbarity and to die fighting rather than in extermination camps.

The fighting lasted until May 16th. Having crushed this uprising, the Germans razed the area to the ground, as they did a year and a half later with the rest of the Polish capital after the uprising in August 1944, lost by the Polish resistance.

The official anniversary ceremonies took place on Friday, 19th April, at the Memorial dedicated to the heroes of the ghetto uprising, in the presence of the Polish President, Bronislaw Komorowski,  the President of the European Parliament, Martin Schulz and of the Israeli Minister of Education, Shai Piron, together with Holocaust survivors.