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Warsaw Guide

Ewa Bratosiewicz, A Government Licensed Guide


Jewish Warsaw 

The Warsaw Jews have disappeared irretrievably, their Warsaw was destroyed irrevocably. Singer still had the images of people and places from before the Holocaust before his eyes. All that is left for us are a few fragile material traces, inscriptions, documents and testimonies - the legacy of surviving memory.


On Nov. 16, 1940 the ghetto was enclosed by 3-meter-high walls. The wall often ran between properties and made use of the already existing internal walls there dividing the houses and courtyards. Some 500,000 Jews were imprisoned on 307 hectares (758 acres). On Nov. 20, 1941 the boundaries were altered and the walls moved to the middle of the bordering streets. After deportations ended, the ghetto was reduced in size again and walls built on Leszno Street. Fragments of the ghetto wall survive at this building on Sienna Street, as well as at locations on Waliców, Krochmalna and Żelazna streets.


Built in 1889-1902 as a private prayer house by Zelman and Rywka Nożyk, it was later given to the Warsaw Jewish Community. Of the hundreds of prayer houses in Warsaw before the war, it is the only surviving synagogue still in use. In the 1970s a building was added to the east side which houses the offices of the Warsaw Jewish Community and the Union of Jewish Communities in Poland. The synagogue is open for sightseeing everyday except Saturday mornings.

PATH OF REMEMBRANCE (from Umschlagplatz to the Monument to the Ghetto Heroes)

The Path is marked by blocks of black granite, on which are engraved a description of events and the names of people active in the ghetto. The Path leads from Umschlagplatz, past the Bunker Monument to the Jewish Fighters Organization (ŻOB), to the Monument to the Ghetto Heroes. The blocks are dedicated to the memory of poet I. Kacenelson, pedagogue J. Korczak, rabbi I. Nissenbaum, ŻOB courier F. Płotnicka, Jewish Military Union (ŻZW) commander P. Frenkel, Poalej Syjon (a leftist, Zionist party) member M. Majerowicz, ŻOB commander M. Anielewicz, Haszomer Hacair (scouting association) member A. Wilner, Bund activist S. Zygielbojm, M. Klepfisz, Polish Social Party activist J. Lewartowski, and historian E. Ringelblum. The Path was created in 1988


On the fifth anniversary of the outbreak of the Ghetto Uprising, April 19, 1948, a monument by Natan Rapaport was unveiled. On the west side is a sculpture symbolizing battle, and on the east is a relief depicting the martyrdom of the Jewish people. The Swedish labradorite stone was originally ordered by the Nazis for their planned monuments to the Third Reich’s victory, and was purchased by Jewish organizations after the war. Nearby is an older monument from 1946 by architect Leon Marek Suzin. On a tablet of red granite, reminiscent of a sewer manhole, is an inscription in Polish, Yiddish and Hebrew: "To those who fell in the unprecedented heroic battle for the dignity and freedom of the Jewish people, for a free Poland and for man’s liberation. From the Polish Jews."


Transports of Jews from the Warsaw Ghetto to the Treblinka death camp began on July 22, 1942. A monument by Hanna Szmalenberg and Władysław Klamerus was built here in 1988. Everyday 5,000 to 6,000 people were sent to their death. As the inscription on the monument informs us: " Over 300,000 Jews followed this path of suffering and death in 1940-1943 from the ghetto created in Warsaw to the Nazi death camps." Four hundred forty-eight first names, from Abel to Żanna, were engraved in the wall as a symbol of the approx. 450,000 Jews imprisoned in the Warsaw Ghetto. On the wall of a neighbouring building a verse from the Book of Job, 16:18, is engraved in Polish, Yiddish and Hebrew: "O earth, cover not my blood, and let my cry find no resting place."


Founded in 1806, this is one of the few Jewish cemeteries still functioning in Poland. The cemetery contains the graves of more than 250,000 people and is one of the very few Jewish cemeteries still in use in Poland today. The tombs range from colossal Gothic follies to simple engraved stones. The site was left almost untouched during the war, the reason being that, unlike in smaller Polish towns, the Nazis didn't need the materials for building new roads. However, some stones were removed from the graves and stored on-site for possible later use. Around 150,000 gravestones have survived in it. It is the resting place for people well-known in the history of the Jewish people and in the history of Warsaw and Poland. Aside from rabbis like Szlomo Lipszyc (d. 1839), Ber Meisels (d. 1870), Abraham Perlmutter (d. 1930) and tzaddiks Brisker Rebe (d. 1919), Amszinower Rebe (d. 1918), Modrzicer Rebe (d. 1921), there are also the graves of Jewish authors like Icchak Lejb Perec (d. 1915), Szlomo Anski (d. 1920), Julian Stryjkowski (d. 1996), actress Ester Rachel Kamińska (d. 1925), and the inventor of Esperanto Ludwik Zamenhof (d. 1917). There is the grave of Henryk Wohl, the treasurer of the National Council during the January Uprising (d. 1907), and that of Feliks Perl, the founder of the Polish Socialist Party (d. 1927). From World War II there are mass graves and the burial mound of Prof. Majer Bałaban (d. 1942), and Adam Czerniaków, chairman of the Judenrat (d. 1942).


Ewa Bratosiewicz, A Government Licensed Guide

Strony internetowe: INVITO.pl