Ghetto uprisings

The ghetto uprisings during World War II were a series of armed revolts against the regime of Nazi Germany between 1941 and 1943 in the newly established Jewish ghettos across Nazi-occupied Europe. Following the German and Soviet invasion of Poland in September 1939, Polish Jews were targeted from the outset. Within months inside occupied Poland, the Germans created hundreds of ghettos in which they forced the Jews to live. The new ghettos were part of the German official policy of removing Jews from public life with the aim of economic exploitation.[1] The combination of excess numbers of inmates, unsanitary conditions and lack of food resulted in a high death rate among them.[2] In most cities the Jewish underground resistance movements developed almost instantly, although ghettoization had severely limited their access to resources.[3]

The ghetto fighters took up arms during the most deadly phase of the Holocaust known as Operation Reinhard (launched in 1942), against the Nazi plans to deport all prisoners – men, women and children – to camps, with the aim of their mass extermination.[3]

Ghetto uprisings
Ghetto Vilinus
Stroop Report - Warsaw Ghetto Uprising 09

Top: members of the United Partisan Organization (FPO) in the Vilna Ghetto, one of the first armed resistance organizations established in the Nazi ghettos during World War II.
Bottom: captured Jews during Warsaw Ghetto Uprising led by the Germans for deportation to death camps. Picture taken at Nowolipie street, near the intersection with Smocza
LocationGerman-occupied Europe
Date1941–43, World War II
Incident typeArmed revolt


Armed resistance was offered in over 100 locations on either side of Polish-Soviet border of 1939, overwhelmingly in eastern Poland.[4][5] Some of these uprisings were more massive and organized, while others were small and spontaneous. The best known and the biggest of all Jewish uprisings during the Holocaust took place in the Warsaw Ghetto between 19 April and 16 May 1943,[6] and in Białystok in August. In the course of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising 56,065 Jews were either killed on the spot or captured and transported aboard Holocaust trains to extermination camps before the Ghetto was razed to the ground.[7][8] At the Białystok Ghetto, following deportations in which 10,000 Jews were led to the Holocaust trains and another 2,000 were murdered locally, the ghetto underground staged an uprising resulting in a blockade of the ghetto which lasted for a full month.[9] There were other such struggles leading to the wholesale burning of the ghettos such as in Kołomyja (now Kolomyia, Ukraine),[10] and mass shootings of women and children as in Mizocz.[11][12]

Selected ghetto uprisings during the Holocaust

The uprisings erupted in 5 major cities, 45 provincial towns, 5 major concentration and extermination camps, as well as in at least 18 forced labor camps.[13] Notable ghetto uprisings included:[14]

To some extent the final liquidation of other Ghettos was also met with armed struggle:

See also


  1. ^ Wolf Gruner (2006), Jewish Forced Labor Under the Nazis: Economic Needs and Racial Aims, 1938-1944, Cambridge University Press, pp. 249–250, ISBN 0521838754, By the end of 1940, the forced-labor program in the General Government had registered over 700,000 Jewish men and women who were working for the German economy in ghetto businesses and as labor for projects outside the ghetto; there would be more.
  2. ^ Marek Edelman. "The Ghetto Fights". The Warsaw Ghetto: The 45th Anniversary of the Uprising. Literature of the Holocaust, at the University of Pennsylvania. Retrieved 2 October 2013.
  3. ^ a b "Resistance in Ghettos". Jewish Uprisings in Ghettos and Camps, 1941–1944. Holocaust Encyclopedia. June 10, 2013. Retrieved 9 January 2014.
  4. ^ Shmuel Krakowski (2010), Armed Resistance, YIVO
  5. ^ "Jewish Resistance". United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. 2011. Archived from the original on January 26, 2012. Retrieved 9 January 2014 – via Internet Archive.
  6. ^ "April–May 1943, Warsaw Ghetto Uprising". Timeline of Events. United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. 2013. Retrieved 9 January 2014.
  7. ^ "World War II: Warsaw Ghetto Uprising". Originally published by World War II magazine. 12 June 2006. Retrieved 4 September 2014. See also: Stroop Report for supplementary data.
  8. ^ Marcin Wilczek (19 April 2011). "A Somber Anniversary". ZSSEDU. Retrieved 4 September 2014.
  9. ^ Sara Bender (2008). The Jews of Bialystok During World War II and the Holocaust. The End of the Ghetto. UPNE. pp. 253–263. ISBN 1584657294 – via Google Books preview.
  10. ^ "Warsaw Ghetto Uprising". Holocaust Encyclopedia. Holocaust Memorial Museum, Washington DC. 2012. Archived from the original on October 28, 2012. Retrieved 9 January 2014.
  11. ^ Eve Nussbaum Soumerai, Carol D. Schulz, Daily Life During the Holocaust, p. 124. ISBN 0313353093.
  12. ^ Photographs of the Mizocz shootings in the USHMM collection (No. 17876, 17877, 17878, 17879). Retrieved 26 October 2015.
  13. ^ United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, Resistance during the Holocaust (PDF), The Miles Lerman Center for the Study of Jewish Resistance, p. 6 of 56 in current document.
  14. ^ "Map of the Jewish uprisings in World War II" (PDF file, direct download 169 KB). Yad Vashem. 2013. Retrieved 9 January 2014.


Battle of Żyrzyn

The Battle of Żyrzyn took place on August 8, 1863 in or near the village of Żyrzyn, Puławy County, Poland, between a small detachment of Russian troops and a force of Polish troops under the command of General Michal Heidenreich.

The Russian force of 500 soldiers and two cannon were escorting a load of 200,000 rubles for the Russian army, 140,000 of which was captured by the Polish forces, along with 282 prisoners of war. Of the remaining Russian troops, 181 were killed, and 87 men escaped along with the remaining 60,000 rubles. The embarrassing defeat was widely reported on by the European press, and throughout the January Uprisings the Polish insurgents counted the engagement, one of many similar small battles, as a "great victory".

Białystok Ghetto uprising

The Białystok Ghetto uprising was an insurrection in the Jewish Białystok Ghetto against the Nazi German occupation authorities during World War II. The uprising was launched on the night of August 16, 1943 and was the second-largest ghetto uprising organized in Nazi-occupied Poland after the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising of April–May 1943. It was led by the Anti-Fascist Military Organisation (Antyfaszystowska Organizacja Bojowa), a branch of the Warsaw Anti-Fascist Bloc.The revolt began upon the German announcement of mass deportations from the Ghetto. The main objective was to break the German siege and allow the maximum number of Jews to escape into the neighboring Knyszyn (Knyszyński) Forest. A group of about 300 to 500 insurgents armed with 25 rifles and 100 pistols as well as home-made Molotov cocktails for grenades, attacked the overwhelming German force with a great loss of life. Leaders of the uprising committed suicide. Several dozen combatants managed to break through and run into the Knyszyn Forest where they joined other guerrilla groups.

Będzin Ghetto

The Będzin Ghetto (a.k.a. the Bendzin Ghetto, Yiddish: בענדינער געטאָ‎, Bendiner geto; German: Ghetto von Bendsburg) was a World War II ghetto set up by Nazi Germany for the Polish Jews in the town of Będzin in occupied south-western Poland. The formation of the 'Jewish Quarter' was pronounced by the German authorities in July 1940. Over 20,000 local Jews from Będzin, along with additional 10,000 Jews expelled from neighbouring communities, were forced to subsist there until the end of the Ghetto history during the Holocaust. Most of the able-bodied poor were forced to work in German military factories before being transported aboard Holocaust trains to the nearby concentration camp at Auschwitz where they were exterminated. The last major deportation of the ghetto inmates by the German SS – men, women and children – between 1 and 3 August 1943 was marked by the ghetto uprising by members of the Jewish Combat Organization.

The Będzin Ghetto formed a single administrative unit with the Sosnowiec Ghetto in the bordering Środula district of Sosnowiec, because both cities are a part of the same metropolitan area in the Dąbrowa Basin. The Jews from both ghettos shared the "Farma" vegetable garden allocated to Zionist youth by the Judenrat.

Częstochowa Ghetto uprising

The Częstochowa Ghetto uprising was an insurrection in Poland's Częstochowa Ghetto against German occupational forces during World War II. It took place in late June 1943, resulting in some 2,000 Jews being killed.

The first instance of armed resistance took place on January 4, 1943, at the so-called Large Ghetto established by the Germans in April 1941. During the 'selection' of some 500 Jews to be deported to the ghetto in Radomsko, shooting broke out at the Warsaw Square (now, Ghetto Heroes Square) in which Mendel Fiszelewicz (Fiszelowicz) along with Isza Fajner were killed. 50 young Jews were executed in reprisal.

Dzyatlava Ghetto

The Dzyatlava Ghetto, Zdzięcioł Ghetto, or Zhetel Ghetto (in Yiddish) was a Nazi ghetto in the town of Dziatłava, Western Belarus during World War II. After several months of Nazi ad-hoc persecution that began after the launch of Operation Barbarossa, the invastion of the Soviet Union, the new German authorities officially created a ghetto for all local Jews on 22 February 1942. Prior to 1939, the town (Zdzięcioł) was part of Nowogródek Voivodeship of the Second Polish Republic.

Haika Grossman

Haika Grossman (Hebrew: חייקה גרוסמן‎, 20 November 1919 – 26 May 1996) was an Israeli politician and member of Knesset. In her youth, she was a Zionist leader in Europe, a partisan, and a participant in the ghetto uprisings in Poland and Lithuania.

Grossman was born in Białystok, Poland. As a teenager she joined the HaShomer HaTzair Socialist-Zionist youth movement. As a leader of the movement in Poland, she was sent to the town of Brześć Litewski to organize the movement's activities there and in the surrounding region.

When World War II erupted, she moved to Wilno (now Vilnius, Lithuania), where she was active in the emergency underground leadership of HaShomer HaTzair. Upon the Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union in 1941, she returned to Białystok, where she helped organize the underground movement in the Białystok Ghetto. She served as a courier between that ghetto and those of Wilno, Lublin, Warsaw and others. Using forged papers, she managed to pass as a Polish woman named Halina Woranowicz. Her Polish identity enabled her to assist the underground movements in numerous towns and ghettoes, as well as the emerging partisan units being formed in the nearby forests of Poland and Lithuania. Aided by Otto Busse she also purchased arms and helped smuggle them into the ghettoes. In 1943, she took part in the Białystok Ghetto Uprising, and helped to establish an underground unit of anti-Nazi Germans.

After the war, she served on the Central Committee of the Jews of Poland, and was awarded Poland's highest medal for heroism. She emigrated to Mandatory Palestine in 1948 and joined Kibbutz Evron in the Western Galilee. She also served in various capacities in the Mapam Party. From 1950 to 1951 she was the head of Ga'aton Regional Council.

From 1969 to 1988 (aside from a break between 1981 and 1984), Grossman was a member of Knesset for Mapam and the Alignment (an alliance which Mapam was part of). As a parliamentarian, she focused on social issues and the status of women. Among the laws she helped pass were the right to abortions, laws relating to at-risk youth, and the law against beating children.

In 1993, Grossman was invited to light one of twelve torches traditionally kindled in the national ceremony marking Yom Ha'atzma'ut (Israel's Independence Day). Later, at a party for the torch lighters, she slipped down a flight of stairs and fell into a coma, which lasted three years, until her death in 1996.

Jewish resistance in German-occupied Europe

Jewish resistance under the Nazi rule took various forms of organized underground activities conducted against German occupation regimes in Europe by Jews during World War II. According to historian Yehuda Bauer, Jewish resistance was defined as actions that were taken against all laws and actions acted by Germans.The term is particularly connected with the Holocaust and includes a multitude of different social responses by those oppressed, as well as both passive and armed resistance conducted by Jews themselves.

Due to military strength of Nazi Germany and its allies, as well as the administrative system of ghettoization and the hostility of various sections of the civilian population, few Jews were able to effectively resist the Final Solution militarily. Nevertheless, there are many cases of attempts at resistance in one form or another including over a hundred armed Jewish uprisings. Historiographically, the study of Jewish resistance to German rule is considered an important aspect of the study of the Holocaust.


A Judenrat (German: [ˈjuːdn̩ˌʁaːt], "Jewish council") was a World War II Jewish-German-collaborative administrative agency imposed by Germany, principally within the ghettos of occupied Europe, including those of German-occupied Poland. The German administration required Jews to form a Judenrat in every community across the occupied territories.The Judenrat constituted a form of self-enforcing intermediary that served the German administration for controlling larger Jewish communities in occupied areas. In some ghettos, as in the Łódź Ghetto, and in the Theresienstadt and Bergen-Belsen concentration camps, the Germans applied to such councils the name "Jewish Council of Elders" (Jüdischen Ältestenrat or Ältestenrat der Juden).While the origin of the term Judenrat is unclear, Jewish communities themselves had established self-government councils as early as the Middle Ages. The Jewish community used the Hebrew term Kahal (קהל) or Kehillah (קהילה), whereas the German authorities generally used the term Judenräte.


Kremenets (Ukrainian: Крем'янець, Кременець, translit. Kremianets', Kremenets'; Polish: Krzemieniec; Yiddish: קרעמעניץ‎, romanized: Kremenits) is a city of regional significance in the Ternopil Oblast (province) of western Ukraine. It is the administrative center of the Kremenets Raion (district), and lies 18 km north-east of the great Pochayiv Monastery. The city is situated in the historic region of Volhynia.


Lakhva (or Lachva, Lachwa; Belarusian and Russian: Лахва, Polish: Łachwa, Yiddish: לאַכװע‎, romanized: Lakhve) is a small town in southern Belarus, with a population of approximately 2,100. Lakhva is considered to have been the location of one of the first, if not the first, Jewish ghetto uprisings of the Second World War.

Lutsk Ghetto

The Lutsk Ghetto (Polish: getto w Łucku, German: Ghetto Luzk) was a Nazi ghetto established in 1941 by the SS in Lutsk, Western Ukraine, during World War II. In the interwar period, the city was known as Łuck and was part of the Wołyń Voivodeship (1921–1939) in the Second Polish Republic.

Nazi ghettos

Beginning with the invasion of Poland during World War II, the regime of Nazi Germany set up ghettos across occupied Europe in order to segregate and confine Jews, and sometimes Romani people, into small sections of towns and cities furthering their exploitation. In German documents, and signage at ghetto entrances, the Nazis usually referred to them as Jüdischer Wohnbezirk or Wohngebiet der Juden, both of which translate as the Jewish Quarter. There were several distinct types including open ghettos, closed ghettos, work, transit, and destruction ghettos, as defined by the Holocaust historians. In a number of cases, they were the place of Jewish underground resistance against the German occupation, known collectively as the ghetto uprisings.

Sosnowiec Ghetto

The Sosnowiec Ghetto (German: Ghetto von Sosnowitz) was a World War II ghetto set up by Nazi German authorities for Polish Jews in the Środula district of Sosnowiec in the Province of Upper Silesia. During the Holocaust in occupied Poland, most inmates, estimated at over 35,000 Jewish men, women and children were deported to Auschwitz death camp aboard Holocaust trains following roundups lasting from June until August 1943. The Ghetto was liquidated during an uprising, a final act of defiance of its Underground Jewish Combat Organization (ŻOB) made up of youth. Most of the Jewish fighters perished.

The Sosnowiec Ghetto formed a single administrative unit with the Będzin Ghetto, because both cities are a part of the same metropolitan area in the Dąbrowa Basin. Prior to deportations, the Jews from the two ghettos shared the "Farma" vegetable garden allocated to Zionist youth by the Judenrat.

The Holocaust in Luxembourg

The Holocaust in Luxembourg refers to the persecution and near-annihilation of the 3,500-strong Jewish population of Luxembourg begun shortly after the start of the German occupation during World War II, when the country was officially incorporated into Nazi Germany. The persecution lasted until October 1941, when the Germans declared the territory to be free of Jews who had been deported to extermination camps and ghettos in Eastern Europe.

Uckermark concentration camp

The Uckermark concentration camp was a small German concentration camp for girls near the Ravensbrück concentration camp in Fürstenberg/Havel, Germany and then an "emergency" extermination camp.

Warsaw Ghetto

The Warsaw Ghetto (German: Warschauer Ghetto, officially Jüdischer Wohnbezirk in Warschau, "Jewish Residential District in Warsaw"; Polish: getto warszawskie) was the largest of all the Jewish ghettos in German-occupied Europe during World War II. It was established by the German authorities in November 1940; within the new General Government territory of German-occupied Poland. There were over 400,000 Jews imprisoned there, at an area of 3.4 km2 (1.3 sq mi), with an average of 9.2 persons per room, barely subsisting on meager food rations. From the Warsaw Ghetto, Jews were deported to Nazi concentration camps and mass-killing centers. In the summer of 1942 at least 254,000 Ghetto residents were sent to the Treblinka extermination camp during Großaktion Warschau under the guise of "resettlement in the East" over the course of the summer. The ghetto was demolished by the Germans in May 1943 after the Warsaw Ghetto Uprisings which had temporarily halted the deportations. The total death toll among the Jewish inhabitants of the Ghetto is estimated to be at least 300,000 killed by bullet or gas, combined with 92,000 victims of rampant hunger and hunger-related diseases, the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, and the casualties of the final destruction of the Ghetto.

Warsaw Ghetto Uprising

The Warsaw Ghetto Uprising (Yiddish: אױפֿשטאַנד אין װאַרשעװער געטאָ‎; Polish: powstanie w getcie warszawskim; German: Aufstand im Warschauer Ghetto) was the 1943 act of Jewish resistance in the Warsaw Ghetto in German-occupied Poland during World War II to oppose Nazi Germany's final effort to transport the remaining ghetto population to Majdanek and Treblinka concentration camps. After the Grossaktion Warsaw of summer 1942, in which more than a quarter of a million Jews were deported from the ghetto to Treblinka and murdered, the remaining Jews began to build bunkers and smuggle weapons and explosives into the ghetto. The left-wing Jewish Combat Organization (ŻOB) and right-wing Jewish Military Union (ŻZW) formed and began to train. A small resistance effort to another roundup in January 1943 was partially successful and spurred the Polish groups to support the Jews in earnest.

The uprising started on 19 April when the ghetto refused to surrender to the police commander SS-Brigadeführer Jürgen Stroop, who then ordered the burning of the ghetto, block by block, ending on 16 May. A total of 13,000 Jews died, about half of them burnt alive or suffocated. German casualties were probably less than 150, with Stroop reporting only 110 casualties [16 killed + 1 dead/93 wounded]. It was the largest single revolt by Jews during World War II. The Jews knew that the uprising was doomed and their survival was unlikely. Marek Edelman, the only surviving ŻOB commander, said that the motivation for fighting was "to pick the time and place of our deaths". According to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, the uprising was "one of the most significant occurrences in the history of the Jewish people".

Yizkor books

Yizkor books are memorial books commemorating a Jewish community destroyed during the Holocaust. The books are published by former residents or landsmanshaft societies as remembrances of homes, people and ways of life lost during World War II. Yizkor books usually focus on a town but may include sections on neighboring smaller communities. Most of these books are written in Yiddish or Hebrew, some also include sections in English or other languages, depending on where they were published. Since the 1990s, many of these books, or sections of them have been translated into English.

Łachwa Ghetto

Łachwa (or Lakhva) Ghetto was a Nazi ghetto in Western Belarus during World War II. Located in Lakhva, Belarus), the ghetto was created with the aim of persecution and exploitation of the local Jews. The ghetto existed until September 1942. It was the location of one of the first Jewish ghetto uprising.

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