In about seven hours from now, the 75th Anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto occurs. This holds significance for me because for the past couple years I've worked on a story whose lead character died in the first hour or two of the uprising. When you work on a project, study a character for that long, they become part of you.
There are several facts surrounding the uprising that escape most public attention. Let me share a few to mark the day. A lot of people lost their lives in this battle. They deserve their due.
*The resistance had rigged the entire ghetto with an alarm system. At about 3 a.m. Warsaw time, 9 p.m. the night before in NY, those alarms went off. By sunrise, a full-scale battle was underway in the ghetto as S.S. troops forced their way into the section of the city.
*This was not the first uprising. The one we think of was actually the second uprising and was instigated by the Nazis to basically crush the ghetto which to a large degree, they'd lost control of during the first.
*While the Z.O.B. is the group most associated with the uprising, it was actually a second group, Z.Z.W., that was better armed and able to put up more lethal resistance. The difference between the two groups is that almost no one, and no records, survived from the Z.Z.W. while many leaders and accounts about the Z.O.B. outlived the war.
*While the bulk of the uprising was crushed during the first week, it took the Nazis longer to squash the uprising than it did to conquer Poland in 1939. The Nazis, whose S.S. Commander Stroop - notorious for several war crimes - took over after the fight began, quickly figured out that blasting and burning their way block by block was the tactic to garner the most results. This, plus the firepower advantage, overwhelmed Jewish defenses.
The Warsaw Ghetto Uprising was a pivotal moment in the history of the Holocaust. The images and symbolism are etched into our historical collective. Remember, tonight, a lot of good people sacrificed their lives for their families, their people, and to combat the Nazi grip on the world. They knew what some try to whitewash these days: Nazis are not good people. They leave only a trail of blood in their wake.