Jews had settled in Warsaw as early as the 14th century. Before the 2nd World War, Warsaw was the largest and most important Jewish community in Europe. Nearly 400,000 Jews made up 1/3 of the total population of Warsaw. In October 1939 the German’s enacted anti-Jewish measures. One year later, on Yom Kippur 1940 the Nazis announced the building of the Warsaw Ghetto, the largest WWII Ghetto. 30% of the city’s population were to be confined to an area comprising of 2.4% of city land. The population of the Ghetto at its height reached more than 500,000.
The first deportations began in January 1943 to Treblinka. On April 19 1943, in anticipation of a third wave of deportations, the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising began. It took almost a month to liquidate the ghetto and by June 1943 Warsaw was empty of its Jewish population. Warsaw was liberated in January 1945 and less than 5,000 Jews were found alive in the city.
- Okopowa Jewish Cemeterysituated in Okopowa Street (former Gesia Street), founded in 1799, is one of the world’s largest Jewish cemeteries. The cemetery covers an area of 33 hectares and an estimated 250,000 buried. Among these are many fascinating and important rabbis, spiritual leaders, Hebraic language propagators, Yiddish writers and theatre artists, industrialists, doctors, lawyers, engineers and community activists – making this the perfect location to start learning about the magnitude, centrality and vibrancy of the Warsaw Jewish Community. http://www.jewishcem.waw.pl/english/start.htm
- POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews on the site of the former Warsaw Ghetto, the core exhibition, more than 4,000 square meters, opened in October 2014 and features a comprehensive, deep and multi-layered multimedia exhibition documenting and celebrating the Jewish community that flourished in Poland for a thousand years before the Holocaust. http://www.polin.pl/en
- JHI Ringelblum Archive is a unique collection of documents, hidden under the rubble of the Warsaw Ghetto, that are one of the world’s most significant testimonies about the extermination of Polish Jewry. http://www.jhi.pl/en/blog/2014-10-08-ringelblum-archive
- Umschlagplatz holding area set up by the Nazis adjacent to the railway station where the ghettoised Jewswere assembled for deportation. Used for several months, during daily deportations up to 300,000 Warsaw Jews were sent to Treblinka. The monument was erected in 1988 on Stawki Street, where the Umschlagplatz was located.
- Mila 18 was the headquarters”bunker” of the Jewish Combat Organization (ŻOB) in the Warsaw Ghetto. On 8 May 1943, three weeks after the start of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, when the bunker was found out by the Nazis, there were around 300 people inside. The ŻOB command, including Mordechaj Anielewicz, the leader of the uprising, stood firm. The Nazis threw tear gas into the shelter to force the occupants out.