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September 2, 2014 / 7 Elul, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘Warsaw Ghetto Uprising’

Underground Tunnel Discovered at Former Sobibor Death Camp

Sunday, June 9th, 2013

Polish and Israeli archaeologists discovered traces of an underground tunnel that apparently was never used at the site of the former death camp in Sobibor.

The tunnel ran from a barracks to outside the camp fence and may have been dug by the prisoners of the Sonderkommando who worked in the camp burning the corpses of murdered Jews.

The archaeology work at Sobibor is directed by Wojciech Mazurek of Chelm, Poland, and Yoram Haimi of Israel.

Though the tunnel would have helped the prisoners to escape, Mazurek does not believe it was used.

“The Germans found the tunnel and therefore shot and then burned the entire crew of the Sonderkommando,” Mazurek told the Gazeta Wyborcza newspaper.

At the gas chambers in Sobibor, Nazis murdered about 250,000 Jews mostly from Poland, the Netherlands and Slovakia. The camp was closed following an uprising on Oct. 14, 1943; about half the remaining prisoners escaped during the uprising.

Afterwards, the Germans bulldozed the death camp and tried to disguise it by planting pine trees at the site, which now is home to the Sobibor Museum displaying a pyramid of ashes and crushed bones of the victims, collected from the cremation pits thereafter.

Before Jews were sent to the gas chambers, SS officer Oberscharführer Hermann Michel, wearing a white coat to give the impression he was a physician, told they would be sent to work after undressing and undergoing “disinfection.”

The SS then led them into the gas chambers, and Ukrainians closed the doors. After the gassing, Jewish workers removed the bodies and the SS led in the next group to meet their gruesome fate.

A Jewish underground movement at Sobibor succeeded in killing 11 SS officers and several camp guards. After the deaths were discovered, approximately 600 prisoners fled, half of them surviving the shots from Nazi fire and all but 50-70 of the others managing to escape re-capture or death on the mine fields surrounding Sobibor.

JTA contributed to this article.

Polish Jews against Righteous Gentiles Monument at Ghetto Site

Friday, April 12th, 2013

Poland’s Jewish community does not want a planned monument to righteous gentiles to be erected near the Museum of the History of Polish Jews, which is due to open this month on the site of the Warsaw Ghetto.

“The community of Polish Jews will never forget the heroism of people who, despite the threat of denunciation and death, were ready to bring aid to victims of the Holocaust,” wrote representatives of the Jewish community in a statement released Thursday. “[But] we believe that this monument should not stand on the remains of those who were not rescued.”

Placing the monument to the Righteous Among the Nations on the site of the former ghetto near the museum would narrow Polish-Jewish history to the Holocaust, the Jewish leaders believe.

The decision to build the monument is set to be announced on April 19, on the 70th anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto uprising. The decision on where to build the monument resides with the Warsaw City Council.

Yom HaShoah In Poland

Wednesday, May 7th, 2008

         Last week’s front page of The Jewish Press showed Crown Prince of England, Prince Charles, affixing a mezuzah to the door of a new Jewish center in Krakow, along with Rabbi Gluck, the Chief Rabbi Of Galicia and Rabbi Schudrich, the Chief Rabbi Of Poland. The event coincided with Holocaust Memorial Day in Poland, a national day of remembrance, marked on the secular date of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising.

 

         The Jewish community marks the event according to the Jewish calendar so often there is a gap between the ceremonies. This year different events were held between the two dates to celebrate Israel’s 60 years of independence.

 

         President of Israel Shimon Peres inscribed the final letters of a new Torah Scroll to be used by the Chabad Jewish Community Center in Warsaw. The ceremony, commemorating the 65th anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, took place at the Presidential Palace in Warsaw, before Pesach. 

 

         “The Nazis violated the Jewish people in body, but they could not touch the life and soul of our people: the Torah,” Peres said.

 

         Rabbi Sholom Stambler, the Chabad shaliach to Poland and head of Warsaw’s Chabad Center, blessed Peres at the palace. Afterward, the Israeli leader carried the Torah Scroll out of the palace and through the courtyard, while under the chuppah canopy, in a traditional procession of dancing and singing.

 

         The Torah was then installed at the Warsaw Beit Chabad. Mr. Peres is the second Israeli president to attend a Torah-writing ceremony in Poland. Former Israeli President Moshe Katzav had the honor at the Nozyk Synagogue last year with the Chief Rabbi Of Poland, Rabbi Schudrich.

 

         In his meetings with Polish governmental officials Peres was invited by Polish Minister Of State Ewa Junczyk-Ziomecka “to bring together Jews and Poles.” President Peres was born in Poland and has visited on a number of occasions, showing much interest in the history of the Jewish community and it’s rebirth after the Shoah.

 

         During his visit he also met with Irena Sendler, a 98-year-old Polish woman who helped save 2,500 Jewish children during the Nazi occupation that systematically murdered more than two million Polish Jews.

 

         Last week also saw the annual March of the Living when thousands of people from around the world gather at Auschwitz, then walk to Birkenau, in memory of those who were killed during the Shoah. The groups then spread throughout the country visiting other sites of Jewish significance.

 

         The only reported act of anti-Semitism was when a drunk broke into a Brazilian group’s hotel room claiming to have a bomb and that he was going to kill everyone. The Polish police quickly moved in and neutralized the situation. The man was found to be drunk and did not have had any explosive material with him.

 

         They say that a sure sign that a Jewish community exists is when there is more then one group and controversy between them.

 

         In Poland there is a small but growing Reform organization and it is vying for official recognition.

 

         It was recently announced that Poland’s Reform community is planning to apply for formal Government recognition. If accepted, the community would be eligible for State Support.

 

         Recognition of the newly formed Beit Polska could also mean that the group would benefit from the slow trickle of compensation for community property confiscated by Poland during the Communist era. Compensation and return of property began several years ago, but a Government Commission reviewing restitution may spend at least another decade deciding cases, participants have said.

 

         Poland’s Jewish community currently is dominated by the Union of Jewish Religious Communities in Poland, which is governed by Orthodox principles, although many of its members are not observant.

 

         Some argue that before the Shoah the Reform movement was almost non-existent in Poland. The so-called Reform Synagogue on Tolomaski Street was called Reform because the rav gave his speeches in Polish and not in Yiddish.

Sixty-Five Years Since The Warsaw Ghetto Uprising

Wednesday, April 16th, 2008

         In what has been one of the major memorial events in Poland commemorating WWII, Warsaw saw a gathering of world leaders this week at the 65th anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising.

 

         This year’s anniversary, April 19th falls out on Shabbat-Erev Pesach, and in deference to the Jewish victims and surviving community, the government has scheduled to start on the 15th and continue throughout the week. Leading the Israeli delegation is Israel President Shimon Peres, who was born in Poland.

 

 



Remnants of the wall surrounding the Warsaw Ghetto.


 

 

         Polish Minister of State Ewa Junczyk-Ziomecka said that Peres was invited to participate in the ceremonies because the Government wants the event “to bring together Jews and Poles.” Peres landed in Poland, where he was born, and will join survivors of the uprising at Warsaw’s Monument to the Heroes of the Ghetto. Three sections of the ghetto wall are still visible, measuring 12 to 20 feet (three to six meters) high.

 

         During his visit in Poland, Peres will address the Polish Parliament, in Hebrew. He also is scheduled to meet with Irena Sendler, a 98-year-old Polish woman who helped save 2,500 Jewish children during the Nazi Occupation, which systematically murdered more than two million Polish Jews.

 

         The uprising in the ghetto began when several hundred young Jews took up arms against the Nazis instead of letting themselves be shipped off to death camps. The Nazis were surprised by the revolt, which lasted for three weeks, before the German Army overcame the Jews and torched the Jewish area.

 

         Also attending the ceremonies will be the mayors of, approximately, 30 European and Israeli cities whose inhabitants have family ties with the victims and survivors of the Warsaw Ghetto,” said Hanna Paluba, an official of the Shalom Foundation, which organizes the annual commemoration.

 

 



Monument over Mila 18, Headquarters of the Warsaw Ghetto Fighters.


 

 

         Leading the U.S. delegation was Homeland Security Secretary, Michael Chertoff, who was among five members named by President Bush. Joining Chertoff are Victor Ashe, the U.S. Ambassador to Poland; Phyllis Heideman, a lawyer and member of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum Council who is also active in B’nai Brith International and the Republican Jewish Coalition; David Mitzner, a Warsaw-born developer who is a major donor to Holocaust remembrance causes; and Bill Lowenberg, a San Francisco-based Holocaust survivor also active with the RJC and in Holocaust remembrance.

 

         The foreign dignitaries will be joined by most of the Jewish community in Poland, for whom evidence of the Shoah is ever present in their daily lives, dwelling in a city that had been destroyed by the Germans and which today is filled with monuments.

 

 


Memorial to the heroes and victims of the Warsaw Ghetto.


 

 

         Some of the guests will be visiting the present-day Jewish community to witness the growth and development of what had until recently been thought of as a dead community.

 

         Mr. Peres will also be going to the offices of the Museum Of The History Of Polish Jews, of which he serves as the Chairman of the International Honorary Committee. 

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/columns/sixty-five-years-since-the-warsaw-ghetto-uprising/2008/04/16/

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