Connect to share and comment

Polish president marks 'painful' Warsaw ghetto uprising

PlacardEnlarge
(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

Polish President Bronislaw Komorowski paid tribute Wednesday to the hundreds of poorly-armed Jews who fought Nazi Germany in the Warsaw ghetto uprising, two days before its 70th anniversary.

"The drama and the combat, this painful experience is part of both the Polish and Jewish traditions," Komorowski said at the opening of a Holocaust-themed art exhibition at the capital's Jewish Historical Institute.

"We are honoured to have here with us participants of those events," he said, referring to the ill-fated ghetto uprising and a later revolt by the Polish underground.

Attendee Symcha "Kazik" Rotem, 89, took part in both, managing to survive the ghetto uprising -- Europe's first urban anti-Nazi revolt -- by escaping through the sewers alongside dozens of comrades.

Rotem flew in from Israel for the anniversary, whose events will include a midnight concert by the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra and the opening of the Museum of the History of Polish Jews.

Parliament Speaker Ewa Kopacz paid hommage to the young fighters before parliament Wednesday, saying their "heroism and sacrifice deserves our respect and admiration".

Around 7,000 Jews died in the month-long revolt, most of them burned alive, and more than 50,000 were deported to the Treblinka death camp.

The Germans then razed the ghetto, after which the notoriously brutal German commander Juergen Stroop penned a report entitled "The Jewish Quarter of Warsaw is No More!"

Poland's Institute of National Remembrance on Wednesday showcased one of the two original copies of the report, which "documents the entire process of exterminating the Warsaw ghetto Jews", institute director Rafal Leskiewicz said.

Warsaw will hold an official memorial ceremony Friday at the Monument to the Ghetto Heroes, where former German chancellor Willy Brandt once famously fell to his knees in a plea for forgiveness for the war.

Komorowski, European Parliament chief Martin Schulz and Israeli Education Minister Shai Piron will attend the event alongside Rotem and other Holocaust survivors.

mc-bo-amj/jmm

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130417/polish-president-marks-painful-warsaw-ghetto-uprising