Anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising in Poland Date in the current year: April 19, 2024

Anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising in Poland Poland observes the anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising on April 19 every year. It commemorates the largest single revolt by Jews during the Second World War and one of the most significant events in Jewish history.

Before the uprising, the Warsaw Ghetto was the largest Nazi ghetto during World War II and the Holocaust. The occupational authorities of Poland started the construction of the ghetto wall in April 1940 and officially announced the creation of the ghetto six months later in October.

Mass deportation from the Warsaw Ghetto to the Treblinka extermination camp began in the summer of 1942. By that point, approximately 100,000 ghetto residents had died from starvation and diseases. Ghetto inmates were told that they were being resettled, but by the end of the year, it was clear that they were sent to their deaths, and preparations for an uprising began.

On January 18, 1943, the Germans attempted to begin the second wave of deportation and were met with armed resistance from the Jewish Combat Organization (ŻOB) and the Jewish Military Union (ŻZW). Though it was Jews who suffered heavy losses in the clash, there were casualties on the German side as well, and the deportation was temporarily halted.

The main revolt broke out on April 19, 1943, on the eve of the Passover. The Germans entered the ghetto with the intent of completing the final deportation within three days, but insurgents ambushed them with firearms, hand grenades, and Molotov cocktails. They knew that their victory was impossible and survival unlikely, but preferred to die fighting.

Enraged by resistance, SS-Brigadeführer Jürgen Stroop ordered the ghetto to be destroyed, building by building, and in less then a month, the uprising was suppressed. 13,000 Jews died during the uprising, including uprising leaders Mordechai Anielewicz, Paweł Frenkiel and Leon Rodal, and almost all of the remaining 50,000 residents were captured and sent to death camps.

The anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising is not an official memorial day in Poland, but it is still widely observed. It commemorates not only those who fought in the uprising, but also about 50,000 civilians who hid in the ruins of the ghetto after the uprising and tried to preserve their human dignity in a hopeless situation.

The symbol of the observance is a yellow daffodil because it resembles six-pointed yellow star badges worn by Jews in ghettos and concentration camps. Marek Edelman, the last surviving leader of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, would bring yellow daffodils to the Monument to the Ghetto Heroes in Warsaw, situated at the spot where the first armed clash of the uprising took place, every April 19 until his death in 2009.

Edelman passed away, but his tradition lives on: every anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, people lay hundreds of yellow daffodils at the monument. In addition, volunteers of POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews hand out paper daffodil pins as part of the museum’s Warsaw Ghetto Uprising social-educational campaign #RememberingTogether. In 2024, they broke the record by handing out two million paper daffodils. Of course, the Warsaw Rising Museum also organizes memorial events on the occasion.

Warsaw Ghetto Uprising Anniversary should not be confused with National Warsaw Uprising Remembrance Day (Narodowy Dzień Pamięci Powstania Warszawskiego). The latter is observed on August 1 to commemorate the 1944 Warsaw Uprising of the Polish underground resistance.

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