[Video below.] The Warsaw Ghetto was the largest of the Jewish ghettos established by Nazi Germany in Warsaw, former capital of Poland in the General Government during the Holocaust in World War II. In the following video, the primary materials, footage and photographs were shot by the Nazis themselves, and the narrator was a survivor of the ghetto.
Between 1941 and 1943, starvation, disease and deportations to concentration camps and extermination camps dropped the population of the ghetto from an estimated 450,000 to approximately 70,000.
In 1943 the Warsaw Ghetto was the scene of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, the first urban mass rebellion against the Nazi occupation of Europe.
The Warsaw Ghetto was established by the German Governor-General Hans Frank on October 16, 1940. At this time, the population of the Ghetto was estimated to be 440,000 people, about 37% of the population of Warsaw. However, the size of the Ghetto was about 4.5% of the size of Warsaw. Nazis then closed off the Warsaw Ghetto from the outside world on November 16, 1940, building a wall with armed guards. During the next year and a half, thousands of the Polish Jews as well as some Romani people from smaller cities and the countryside were brought into the Ghetto, while diseases (especially typhoid) and starvation kept the inhabitants at about the same number. Average food rations in 1941 for Jews in Warsaw were limited to 253 kcal, compared to 2,325 kcal for gentile Poles and 5,613 kcal for German people.
The life in the ghetto was chronicled by the Oyneg Shabbos group. In 1942 Polish resistance fighter Jan Karski reported to the Western governments on the situation in the Ghetto and on the extermination camps. Round-up of residents of the Ghetto, January 1943. Over 100,000 of the Ghetto’s residents died due to rampant disease or starvation, as well as random killings, even before the Nazis began massive deportations of the inhabitants from the Ghetto’s Umschlagplatz to the Treblinka extermination camp during Operation Reinhard.
Between Tisha B’Av, July 23, 1942, and Yom Kippur, September 21, 1942, about 254,000 Ghetto residents were sent to Treblinka and murdered there. By the end of 1942, it was clear that the deportations were to their deaths, and many of the remaining Jews decided to fight.
On the eve of WW2 the Jewish population in Warsaw numbered 337,000, about 29% of the total population of the city, this figure rose to 445,000 by March 1941. Early September 1939 following the German invasion of Poland on 31 August 1939, the German forces reached the southern and western parts of the city on 8 and 9 September 1939. Within a few days they had surrounded the city from all sides, Warsaw bravely stood up to the German siege for 3 weeks, with air attacks and artillery shelling causing heavy damage and significant loss of life. As a result of the constant bombardments from the air and by artillery fire, there was a great exodus from the city.
Warsaw’s mayor Stefan Starzynski appointed Adam Czerniakow as Chairman of the Jewish Council on 23 September 1939. From the first days of the occupation the Jews were subjected to attacks and discrimination, such as being driven from food lines, seized for forced labour and assaults on religious Jews wearing their traditional garbs.
Click below to watch: