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Uprising in the Warsaw Ghetto. The Stroop Report showing German crimes was made 80 years ago

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80 years ago, the Stroop Report documenting the liquidation of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising in 1943 was prepared. It is a shocking testimony of the extermination of the Jewish population and, at the same time, a cold, emotionless document produced by the German crime machine, crimes committed in front of the lens of a photographic camera, said Ewa Wójcicka, an archivist from the Institute of National Remembrance.

– The report of SS-Brigadeführer and Major-General of Police Jürgen Stroop is an official, official report drawn up by him – as commander-in-chief in April-May 1943 of the German forces suppressing the uprising in the Warsaw Ghetto – said Ewa Wójcicka, archivist from the Institute of National Remembrance. – When the first fighting broke out on April 19, 1943, Stroop replaced Ferdinand von Sammern-Frankenegg in this position. The 31 days of fighting are described on several dozen pages. The first of the 31 reports is from April 19, the last – from May 16. Stroop informs in it that the Great Synagogue at ul. Tłomackie 7 – symbolic for the Germans the destruction of a temple important for Warsaw Jews as the “crowning” of the destruction of the buildings in the ghetto – explained the archivist.

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– In the first part, Stroop lists the names of the dead and several dozen SS men and policemen wounded during the fighting. The Stroop Report is a shocking testimony of the extermination of the Jewish population and, at the same time, a cold, emotionless document produced by the German crime machine, added Wójcicka.

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Jürgen Stroop (middle left, wearing field cap looking up)IPN archive

Reports from the report are written in cold police and bureaucratic language. Some are laconic, others – a bit more elaborate. They describe both the course of the clashes, the methods, for example, the German sappers blowing up shelters together with the civilians staying in them, the number of captured fighters and civilians, and a description of the captured goods and weapons. Stroop provided precise data on the number of Jews killed and those deported to the Treblinka II extermination camp.

The Stroop report reveals the enormity of hatred and contempt that the Germans had for the Jewish population. It is characteristic that the authors of the report often and consistently use the word “Banditen” (bandits) when referring to the fighters of the Jewish Combat Organization and the Jewish Military Union. It is significant that the same term was used in Hitler’s newspeak for soldiers of the Home Army and other armed organizations of the Polish underground.

Report by SS-Brigadeführer and Police Major-General Jürgen StroopLeszek Szymanski/PAP

– This is the only document of this type in the world describing in words and images unimaginable crimes of genocide, and these crimes committed in front of the camera lens of an unknown photographer from the identification section of the Security Police (SiPo) in Warsaw and (or) SS-Obersturmführer Franz Konrad from the Stroop staff. To this day, we are not sure who the author of the 52 black and white photos that make up the third, iconographic part of the report was. March 6, 1952. Konrad and Stroop were hanged on the gallows of the Mokotów prison at Rakowiecka Street in Warsaw, explained the archivist.

“I will cite yet another revolting document proving the organized and systematic nature of the persecution of the Jews. I have a report edited with German precision, illustrated with photographs that authenticate this unbelievable text, and beautifully bound in leather, with the care that characterizes works of which one is proud.” – this is how the American prosecutor of the International Military Tribunal in Nuremberg, Robert H. Jackson, described the Stroop report on December 21, 1945. On that day, the world learned about the existence of a document that had previously been known only to a narrow circle of the authorities of the Third Reich.

In 1945, the report was evidence at the Nuremberg trials. He also served as material incriminating Stroop during the trial in Warsaw in 1951 and in court proceedings against German criminals.

Two original copies of the report have survived to this day. The first one in 2020 Institute of National Remembrance donated to the Warsaw Ghetto Museum as a deposit. The second, so-called concept, is in the United States National Archives (NARA) in Washington.

– The “American” copy can be considered a draft, it differs, among other things, in the number of pages and photos. Polski was inscribed in October 2017 on the UNESCO Memory of the World list, emphasized Ewa Wójcicka.

Shocking moments – testimonies of the Holocaust

In several photos, we see a man who jumps from the top floor of a burning building at ul. Niska 23 and 25, and the SS men watching the people lying on the pavement. In conversations with Kazimierz Moczarski in his cell on Rakowiecka Street, Stroop cynically called them “paratroopers”. In another photo, an unknown woman clings to a balcony railing, only to die a moment later after falling onto the cobblestones of the street.

Stroop Report p. 225Jürgen Stroop/Institute of National Remembrance/Jewish Historical Institute

The photographer captured shocking moments – testimonies of the Holocaust. The photos show nameless victims being escorted to the Umschlagplatz and then transported by trains to their deaths in the Treblinka gas chambers. You can also see groups of nameless torturers from the SS, Schutzpolizei, SD and collaborators from the eastern auxiliary formations – the so-called askaris.

Stroop Report p. 196Jürgen Stroop/Institute of National Remembrance/Jewish Historical Institute

Photo from Jürgen Stroop’s report prepared for Heinrich Himmler in 1943Jürgen Stroop/Institute of National Remembrance/Jewish Historical Institute

“In the photos we recognize Stroop and SS and police officers from his staff, including SS-Hauptsturmführer Karl Kaleske – Stroop’s adjutant, and earlier – von Sammern-Frankenegg. In another photo SS-Oberscharführer Heinrich Klaustermeyer at the buildings of 28/30 Nowolipie Street /32 interrogates a group of rabbis, one of them is probably Rabbi Herszel Rappaport. Standing next to him, wearing an SS-Rottenführer uniform and an SD badge on his sleeve, is Josef Bloesche, whom the ghetto prisoners called +Frankenstein+. He personally murdered at least several hundred Jews before the uprising. Edelman wrote about the panic he aroused when he appeared on the streets of the ghetto: in several photos he wears motorcycle goggles that protected the Germans from the smoke from burnt tenement houses, in each of them he holds an MP 28 II submachine gun used by the police. in the GDR, and only at the end of the 1960s did he stand trial in Erfurt for his personal involvement in the murder of two thousand Jews. On July 29, 1969, he was executed in a prison in Leipzig” – explained Wójcicka.

Stroop Report. Interrogation of Jewish prisoners at Nowolipie StreetJürgen Stroop/Institute of National Remembrance/Jewish Historical Institute

In another photo, next to a group of “askarys” from Trawniki, against the background of the wall at the Umschlagplatz at ul. At stake is another criminal policeman, Major Otto Bundtke – commander of the 3rd Battalion of the 23rd Schutzpolizei Regiment. In addition to participating in the suppression of the uprising, he was responsible for the executions of Pawiak prisoners carried out in the ruins of the ghetto.

Photo from the Stroop report against the background of the wall at Stawki StreetJürgen Stroop/Institute of National Remembrance/Jewish Historical Institute

In one of the photos, a group of Germans is standing over a bunker, from which terrified civilians are coming out. In the center of the frame, SS-Sturmbannführer Walter Bellwidt, SS-Sturmbannführer Walter Bellwidt, looks into the lens with a triumphant smile and a triumphant smile. Many of the photographs from the report show the burning buildings of the ghetto and the omnipresent, suffocating smoke, as well as groups of deported people who, under the escort of the SS, were heading for the Umschlagplatz.

A ghetto inhabitant being led out of his hiding place. Photo from the Stroop reportJürgen Stroop/Institute of National Remembrance/Jewish Historical Institute

“Women of the Halutz Movement Captured with Weapons”. Frame from the Stroop reportJürgen Stroop/Institute of National Remembrance/Jewish Historical Institute

– In the photos from the report, we can also recognize some of the victims. In the famous photograph with the original caption “Women from the halutz movement captured with weapons” we see three female fighters from the ghetto – Małka Zdrojewicz and Bluma and Rachela Wyszogrodzkie. The first of them, after the uprising, ended up in Majdanek, where it survived the Holocaust. After the war, she lived in Israel. The Wyszogród Sisters did not survive. The most famous is probably the photo with the boy who holds his hands up, and the aforementioned “Frankenstein” – Bloesche, is holding him at the sight of a submachine gun. After the war, the photo became the most recognizable testimony of the Holocaust around the world. The boy was supposed to be Zwi Nussbaum living in New York, Levi Zelinwarger from Haifa and Artur Siemiątek from Łowicz. They all bore a striking resemblance to the child in the photograph, but some details of their lives precluded their presence in the Warsaw Ghetto in the spring of 1943 when the photos for the report were taken. To this day, we do not know the boy’s identity, but more importantly, the famous photo helped identify Bloesche and bring him to court, the archivist pointed out.

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A boy from the Warsaw Ghetto. Stroop Report, p. 203Jürgen Stroop/Institute of National Remembrance/Jewish Historical Institute

She also explained that several other people were recognized in the photograph: Hania Lamet, her mother Matylda Lamet-Goldfinger, Leon Kartuziński and Gołda Stawarowska, but historians are not entirely sure whether these are actually the people immortalized in the photo.

Only some criminals, such as Stroop, Bloesche and Konrad, were sentenced to death. Others – Kaleske, Max Jesuiter (one of Stroop’s collaborators) and Bundtke – escaped justice or were sentenced to several years’ sentences, disproportionate to the scale of the crime. Still others, such as the police major Ewald Sternagel mentioned by Stroop, disappeared without a trace after the war, and the investigations in their case were discontinued. However, they still remain Germans known by name, surname and official rank – the performers of murders, and not the mythical “Nazis”.

On June 2, 1943, the Higher SS and Police Leader in the General Government, SS-Obergruppenführer Friedrich Wilhelm Krüger, sent a copy of the Stroop Report to Heinrich Himmler. Several days later, Stroop was decorated with the Iron Cross 1st Class for suppressing the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising.

According to the report, about six thousand Jews died during the fighting. Seven thousand Germans murdered in the ghetto. So many were also sent to Treblinka. About 36,000 were sent to other extermination camps, mainly Auschwitz and Majdanek.

Main photo source: Leszek Szymanski/PAP



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