Vitka Kovner, one of numerous Jewish partisans during World War II, lived to be 92 years old. Born in Poland, she was one of several resistance fighters who took-up arms against their German occupiers and oppressors. Although Vitka was not part of the uprising in Warsaw, others like her—both women and men—did. Image online via Yad Vashem.


At the time Himmler gave the order to close the Warsaw ghetto, there were about 40,000 Jews still left in the city. Despite their weakened condition and lack of suitable weapons, some of those people (Wladyslaw Szpilman was not among them) mounted a surprising defense against the German assault. With the city burning, the resistance held on.

Mordecai Anielewicz, a rebel leader, described the ghetto's conditions in his April 23, 1943 letter. Likely written from Mordecai’s command bunker at Mila 18, and sent to a friend, it would prove to be his last written message:

It is impossible to describe the conditions under which the Jews of the ghetto are now living. Only a few will be able to hold out. The remainder will die sooner or later. Their fate is decided. In almost all the hiding places in which thousands are concealing themselves it is not possible to light a candle for lack of air.

Both men and women fought, and were captured, in the uprising. Some of the detainees were dealt with later; others were killed on the spot. Still more—to avoid capture—jumped to their deaths.

On May 8th, the Germans used poisonous gas on the last fortified bunker at Mila 18. Although 100 men and women were able to escape to the sewers, Mordecai died.

Jurgen Stroop, the SS Major General in charge of the ghetto’s destruction, declared victory on May 16, 1943. To celebrate defeat of the Jewish resistance, he ordered the Great Synagogue on Tlomacki Street to be destroyed.

Stroop documented Hitler’s belated birthday gift with a report that included shocking evidence of the ghetto’s destruction. Revealed for the first time at the Nuremberg war trials, it is known as "The Stroop Report."

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Author: Carole D. Bos, J.D. 5190stories and lessons created

Original Release: Jan 01, 2003

Updated Last Revision: Jul 01, 2019

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"WARSAW GHETTO UPRISING" AwesomeStories.com. Jan 01, 2003. Jan 18, 2020.
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