Warsaw Ghetto Uprising 1943

Part of the Final Solution-the genocide of Europe’s Jews in the Holocaust-involved the establishment of ghettos in German-occupied territories in which Jews were confined until they could be dispatched to concentration and extermination camps. The Warsaw Ghetto, within the city’s old Jewish quarter, was enclosed first by barbed wire and later by a brick wall. By summer 1942, about half a million Jews were crowded into the 840 acres of the ghetto. Starvation, privation, and epidemic disease killed thousands monthly.

Starting on July 22, 1942, 5,000 Jews per day were transferred from the ghetto to the Treblinka extermination camp. By September, only about 55,000 Jews remained in the Warsaw Ghetto. Realizing that their situation was desperate, those who remained decided to resist. They had no hope for a military victory, but decided that it was better to fight than to submit passively to extermination. The Jewish Fighting Organization (ydowska Organizacja Bojowa, OB) was formed and covertly took control of the ghetto. On January 9, 1943, Schutzstaffel (SS) head Heinrich Himmler ordered the deportation of 8,000 Jews. The order was met by resistance, as many refused to report as ordered, and ZOB fighters began sniping at German troops. Under fire, the deportation proceedings were called off, and, greatly encouraged, ZOB organized an even more widespread resistance effort, fortifying hideouts, scrounging weapons, and improvising explosives for the battle all knew was coming.

On April 19, 1943, about 3,000 German troops under SS Brigadier General Jürgen Stroop, including 2,600 SS troops as well as regular army soldiers and police, attacked the ghetto with tanks and other armored vehicles, as well as machine guns and artillery. Opposing them were some 600 ZOB fighters and 400 from another group, the Jewish Military Union (ZZW). From well-prepared positions, the Jews fought with one machine gun, pistols, hand grenades, and Molotov cocktails. The 600 or so active fighters of the ZOB, who had only one machine gun and 17 rifles among them but lots of Molotov cocktails, inflicted significant casualties on about 2,000 SS who moved methodically into the Ghetto. The ZOB fighters were joined by 400 more from the Zydowski Zwiazek Wojskowy (ZZW), or “Jewish Military Union.” Fierce, merciless fighting continued for several weeks. On May 8 the ZOB headquarters bunker located at Mila 18 fell to the SS. In the end almost all members of the ZOB were killed, having themselves killed about 300 Germans. Stroop was shocked at the ferocity and organization of the resistance. He was obliged to fight in the ghetto streets daily, finally declaring the ghetto secure on May 16-even though resistance continued.

Polish Home Army and other Polish resistance fighters tried unsuccessfully to breach the ghetto’s walls in the hope of providing an exit route for the Jews. Those Jewish fighters who were not killed in combat committed suicide or were captured; however, 50 ZOB fighters escaped through the sewers. The uprising killed 14,000 Jews, many the victims of arson fires. Seven thousand survivors were murdered at Treblinka. Others were sent to the Majdanek camp, where they met the same fate. German casualties were not officially calculated, but probably included 400 killed and 1,000 wounded.

The Warsaw uprising enraged Hitler, though it was not the only one to occur in Jewish ghettos. It became a permanent symbol of resistance for Jewish people the world over, captured in the fighting slogan “Never again!”

Jürgen Stroop

(1895 – 1952) SS-Gruppenführer und Generalleutnant der Waffen-SS und Polizei: [Changed his name from Josef, 05.1941, in remembrance of his deceased son.] Born: 26. 09. 1895 in Detmold / Lippe Hanged: 6. 03. 1952 on the former site of the Warsaw Ghetto, after sentence of death from a Polish court.

SSPF “Warschau”: 19.04.1943 – 13.09.1943 [Appointed to succeed SS-Oberf. Dr. Ferdinand von Sammern-Frankenegg, who had failed in initial attempts to quell the uprising by ZOB rebels in Warsaw. Between 19.04.1943 and 16.05.1943, Stroop led a mixed force of Waffen-SS replacement/training units, German and Polish police forces, and German Army engineers, and various Latvian, Ukrainian, and Lithuanian guard units in the annihilation of the Warsaw Ghetto. In closing his “grand operation”, Stroop himself pushed the plunger which detonated explosive charges inside Warsaw’s central synagogue. He reported on this operation in a series of daily teletype messages to the HSSPF “Ost” in Krakow, SS-OGruf.u.Gen.d.Pol. Friedrich-Wilhelm Krüger; these messages were ultimately compiled in one complete report, along with dozens of photos, entitled “Es gibt keinen jüdischen Wohnbezirk~ in Warschau mehr!” (“The Jewish Quarter of Warsaw is no more”). He was able to report the following on 16. May 1943: “180 Jews, bandits, and subhumans were destroyed. The Jewish quarter of Warsaw is no more! The grand operation terminated at 2015 hours when the Warsaw synagogue was blown up.” The “Stroop Report” was used as evidence by the prosecution in the International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg, and prompted defendant Generaloberst Alfred Jodl to say with contempt, “The dirty arrogant SS swine! Imagine writing a 75-page boastful report on a little murder expedition, when a major campaign fought by soldiers against a well-armed army takes only a few pages.”]

German units in the fighting in the Warsaw Ghetto SS-Gruppenführer und Generalleutnant der Polizei Jürgen Stroop was SSPF for Warsaw at that time and nothing to do with the Waffen-SS. He was in charge of all SS and security troops which included some Waffen-SS troops, in the District of Warsaw, which was part of the Generalgouvernement. He was vice Ferdinand Sammern-Frankenegg in 1943.

The German force comprised about 2100 men under the command of General Stroop which were an adhoc group of

228 German security policeman

381 Panzer-Grenadier training reserve batallion

355 Lithuanian militiamen

440 SS cavalry reserve battalion

78 sappers

24 light AA gunners

2 armoured cars

355 Lithuanian fireman

363 Polish policemen

166 Polish fireman

The forces used in the liquidation of the Ghetto were as follows:


* SS-Panzer-Grenadier-Ausbildungs- und Ersatz-Bataillon 3 Warschau (SS-Pz. Gren. Ausb. u. Ers. Btl. 3/SS Panzer Grenadier Training and Reserve Battalion Nr. 3, Warsaw); 4 officers/440 men

* SS-Kavallerie-Ausbildungs- und Ersatz-Abteilung Warschau (SS-Kav.-Ausb.-u. Ers.-Abt./SS Cavalry Training and Reserve Battalion, Warsaw); 5 officers/381 men


* I. Btl./SS-Polizei-Regiment 22 (I./SS-Pol.-Rgt. 22) (SS Police Regiment No. 22, 1st Battalion)

* III. Btl./SS-Polizei-Regiment 22 (III./SS-Pol.-Rgt. 22) (SS Police Regiment No. 22, 3rd Battalion)

* Technische Nothilfe (Technical Emergency Corps); 1 officer/6 men

* polnische Polizei (Polish Police); 4 officer/363 men

* polnische Feuerlöschpolizei (Polish Fire Brigade); 166 men

Sicherheitspolizei (Security Police): 3 officers/32 men


* Leichte Flakalarmbatterie III/8 Warschau (Light Anti-aircraft Alarm Battery No. III/8, Warsaw)

* Pionierkommando der Eisenbahn; 2 officers/22 men Panzerzug-Ersatz-Abteilung Rembertow (Engineers Detail of the Railway Armored Train Reserve Battalion Rembertow); 2 officers/42 men Reserve-Pionier-Bataillon 14 Gora-Kalwaria (Reserve Engineer Battalion No. 14, Gora-Kalwaria); 1 officer/34 men

Fremdvölkische Wachmannschaften (Foreign Ethnic Guard Units):

* One (1) Bataillon Trawnikimänner (1 battalion of men from Trawniki Training Camp; 2 officers/335 men

Source: Es gibt keinen jüdischen Wohnbezirk- in Warschau mehr (“The Jewish Quarter of Warsaw is No More!” Jürgen Stroop’s report on the “Gettoaktion” in Warsaw)

Further reading: Gutman, Israel. Resistance: The Warsaw Ghetto Uprising. New York: Mariner Books, 1998; Kurzman, Dan. The Bravest Battle: The Twenty-Eight Days of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising. New York: Da Capo, 1993.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *