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Friday, 19 April 2013

Warsaw commemorates Warsaw Ghetto Uprising anniversary

  |   President commemorates Warsaw Ghetto Uprising anniversary President commemorates Warsaw Ghetto Uprising anniversary President commemorates Warsaw Ghetto Uprising anniversary

The fate of Poland's Jews and the Warsaw Ghetto was an especially horrific drama whose cruelty and ruthlessness terrifies even today, President Bronisław Komorowski said on Friday in Warsaw at a ceremony marking the 70th anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising.


The ceremony at Warsaw's Ghetto Heroes Memorial began with the Polish national anthem sung to alarm sirens and church bells and an opening address by Warsaw Mayor Hanna Gronkiewicz-Waltz.


"On no other capital in Europe did the war imprint as terrible a mark of destruction and death as on Warsaw. No other capital fought the Nazi invaders three times, like Warsaw", Bronisław Komorowski said, reminding that Warsaw fought the Germans in 1939, during the Jewish Ghetto Uprising in 1943, and the Warsaw Uprising in 1944.


The Jewish uprising was a direct challenge to the perpetrators but also an accusation of the whole free world for its inefficiency and passiveness, president Komorowski stressed.


During the ceremony at the Ghetto Heroes Memorial the Polish president decorated Symcha Ratajzer-Rotem, one of the few surviving ghetto uprising participants, with the Polonia Restituta Great Cross.


Ratajzer-Rotem, one of the three still living Jewish insurgents, recalled the past events in his speech. "I remember when I went back to the ghetto through the sewers to get out the Jewish fighters and I found nobody. I thought I was the last Jew in the ghetto. But after a few hours a miracle happened: I was approached by a group of brothers in arms. Today there will be no miracle. I am one of the three living insurgents. (...) People pass away, that is the way life goes, but it is important for the memory to remain," he stressed.


Israeli Education Minister Shai Piron said that the "uprising was a manifestation of the fight against evil, it manifested the duty to confront the wrong. The insurgents died, but the spirit of mutiny and its heritage helped raise a number of generations that love their fellow men."


On April 18 the Israeli Philharmonic Orchestra under Zubin Mehta gave a concert in Warsaw's Grand Theatre featuring the hymn of Ghetto fighters Zog nit keynmol. In the evening the musicians took part in a concert in front of the Ghetto Heroes Memorial.


Present at the Friday ceremony were also Polish PM Donald Tusk, Polish parliamentary speakers Ewa Kopacz and Bogdan Borusewicz, EP President Martin Schulz, Israeli government officials and foreign delegations from France, Great Britain, United States, Germany as well as representatives of numerous European capitals.


The Warsaw Ghetto Uprising broke out on April 19, 1943 as an act of desperation against the ghetto's liquidation by the Nazis. Fourteen thousand of the ghetto's around 70,000 inhabitants died in the insurgency, the rest were taken to death camps.

The uprising fell on May 16, 1943. (PAP)


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