Saturday, July 26, 2008

First, let me say that before learning I was coming to Poland, I knew nothing of the Uprising in 1943 by members of the polish resistance. In school we learned that the French had a resistance. In truth, Poland had a larger, better run, and more efficient one. In the book “The Zookeepers Wife” it was revealed that there were on average 20 some train cars derailed a month (I am going from memory- so I may be off a little). The fact that there was an uprising at all is impressive, let alone that it took the Nazi’s 61 days to get the city back. During these days, the polish flag ran above the city. (Warsaw was a tough city for the Nazi’s to take- especially compared to Paris. Paris fell immediately just by the sounds of tanks coming down the road! ) However, this resistance would have an immense impact on the city of Warsaw. The Nazi’s simply raked the city flat. Additionally, to prove a point to the Polish people, after the uprising was squashed, the Nazi’s ranked the Polish people in order of importance to society. They then proceeded to take about 200,000 people including children to concentration camps- where they were killed.

The Warsaw Ghetto, created by the Nazis is the autumn of 1940, was home to over 450,000. The ghetto was divided into two parts: the larger ghetto in the north, and the smaller ghetto in the south. This is where the author of the book and star of the movie The Pianist lived- the smaller part. The small and big were linked by a series of bridges. During the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising in 1943, the entire northern ghetto was leveled to the ground, and almost no traces of it remain. By then, the smaller ghetto had already been liquidated, and while much of it was leveled in the general Warsaw Uprising of August 1944, some parts of it survive, including several meters of ghetto wall.

The wall left is about three times my height and made of solid brick. There are a few gaps in the bricks, where two or three bricks were removed for display in various holocaust museums. When you look at the wall, you are seeing it as those within the ghetto saw it (i.e., the side that faced in to the ghetto). It was very tall, and quite obviously impossible to escape. For the 450,000 plus Jews within the ghetto, the only way they left those walls was either in a hearse to the cemetery, or when they were rounded up and sent to the umschlagplatz –German word-for deportation to Treblinka.

I actually view the remaining Warsaw Ghetto with Tom, my German friend. He shook his head a lot and muttered. He also noted that all the wording for explanation was in Polish, English and Hebrew- not any German. It was interesting to view this part of history with a German citizen.
I am running to class (it’s Sat) and I will write more about Warsaw later- and post the pictures!


Subscribe to RSS Feed Follow me on Twitter!