Everything You Never Knew You Wanted to Know About Berlin
A single is siren was sounded in Israel yesterday on Yom HaShoah, Holocaust Remembrance Day, bringing the whole country to a halt.
That day commemorates and honours the victims of the Holocaust as well as the deaths and the heroic fight of the Jewish men and women who despite their lack of weapons and military experience started a lost fight against the raging Nazi troops in the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising of 1943.
The Warsaw Ghetto Uprising lasted for almost a month and despite the fact that it ended in the defeat of the Jewish defenders, who were supported by the Polish troops on the other side of the ghetto walls by engaging the German, the Lithuanian and Ukrainian troops in other combats, it was the biggest and most powerful act of Jewish resistance in the history of the Holocaust.
As one of the Ghetto Uprising and Holocaust survivors, Marek Edelmann, said many years later: “We were beaten by the flames, not the Germans.” The uprising was quenched using not so much bullets and manpower as incendiary bombs and flame-throwers. Out of the 13,000 Jews killed inside the ghetto during the fights, 6,000 died in flames or having been suffocated by the rising smoke. The other 50,000 were captured and shipped to the Nazi death camps operating in the south of Poland. The majority of them were murdered upon arrival.
Jürgen Stroop who led the liquidation of the ghetto reported back to his superior (dated May 16th, 1943):
“180 Jews, bandits and sub-humans, were destroyed. The former Jewish quarter of Warsaw is no longer in existence. The large-scale action was terminated at 20:15 hours by blowing up the Warsaw Synagogue. … Total number of Jews dealt with 56,065, including both Jews caught and Jews whose extermination can be proved. … Apart from 8 buildings (police barracks, hospital, and accommodations for housing working-parties) the former Ghetto is completely destroyed. Only the dividing walls are left standing where no explosions were carried out.”
A two-minute siren and stopping in your tracks to honour the dead is what should be done in Germany, too.