The area of the former ghetto in Warsaw was entered into the register of monuments. As reported by the capital conservator of monuments, from now on, each building permit in this area will have to be agreed with the provincial conservator. The point is not to destroy monuments that may be underground.
The ordinance on changes in the municipal register of monuments was signed by the deputy mayor of Warsaw, Renata Kaznowska.
– On Monday, the record card of the archaeological immovable monument “Underground relics of the Warsaw ghetto” was added to the municipal register of monuments. This is the first stage to seriously protect what is left of the ghetto, and what is still under the surface today, informed the Warsaw conservator of monuments, Michał Krasucki. He emphasized that from now on, each building permit in this area will have to be agreed with the provincial conservator in terms of potential archaeological monuments. – In the future, it also opens the way to further, more detailed protection in local plans – added the conservator.
The inclusion in the records was preceded by several years of research work, started in 2017, by a team of archaeologists from the Warsaw Conservator of Monuments. During the research, they collaborated with experts from the Jewish Historical Institute of Emanuel Ringelblum, the Polin Museum of the History of Polish Jews, the Center for Extermination of Jews of the Institute of Philosophy and Sociology of the Polish Academy of Sciences, the Warsaw Ghetto Museum, the Jewish Religious Community, the State Archaeological Museum, the Museum of Warsaw, the Scientific Association of Polish Archaeologists, Warsaw Branch, and the Mazovian Provincial Conservator of Monuments.
Protection of underground monuments
– The intention of the Warsaw Consecrator’s Office of Monuments was, in the first place, to include in the municipal register of monuments the area with the greatest archaeological potential, i.e. the areas where the probability of finding archaeological monuments that testify to the fate of the ghetto inhabitants is the highest. It includes the area of the residual ghetto and sheds with uninhabited, so-called “wild” areas – explained the conservator.
The main problem that the researchers had to deal with was the determination of historically confirmed boundaries of the monument, the course of which has so far been ambiguous. In the absence of any preserved elements in the field that would allow for the identification of the ghetto’s range, it was decided to define the boundaries on the basis of cartographic sources.
– I hope this is the beginning of the comprehensive protection of the remains of the former Jewish district. For the protection of the few underground monuments, which at the moment are the most important remnants of the city and Jewish culture, which disappeared in 1943, said Michał Krasucki, the Warsaw conservator.
Uprising in the ghetto
The Warsaw ghetto for the Jewish population was established by the German authorities in Warsaw on October 2, 1940, and closed and isolated from the rest of the city on November 16, 1940. It was the largest ghetto in the General Government and the entire occupied Europe.
As a result of the so-called the great displacement action from July 22 to September 21, 1942, about 75 percent of the ghetto inhabitants were deported and murdered in the Treblinka extermination camp. In August 1942, the southern part of the ghetto (the so-called small ghetto) was incorporated into the “Aryan” part of the city. In the northern part, Jews remained, most of whom worked in the German production plants (so-called sheds) operating in the ghetto.
On April 19, 1943, an uprising broke out in the ghetto. It was the first urban uprising in occupied Europe, an act of a symbolic nature, given the slim chance of success. In an unequal fight that lasted almost a month, poorly armed fighters from the Jewish Combat Organization (ŻOB) and the Jewish Military Union (ŻZW) resisted soldiers from the SS, Wehrmacht, Security Police and auxiliary units. At that time, the Germans razed the ghetto to the ground, methodically burning house after house.
400 thousand victims
The ghetto was liquidated after the uprising in May 1943. After the survivors were transported to Treblinka and the camps in the Lublin district, the buildings in the “Jewish quarter” were demolished on the orders of the Germans. The total number of victims of the Warsaw ghetto is estimated at around 400,000, of which around 92,000 died or died in Warsaw (mainly victims of hunger and disease), and around 300,000 in the Treblinka extermination camp and during two deportation actions. The former inhabitants of the ghetto were also a large part of the victims of the “Erntefest” operation carried out in the camps in the Lublin district in November 1943.
Main photo source: German Federal Archives / Wikipedia (PD)