Warsaw Ghetto Uprising fighters are heroes to both Poles and Jews, President Andrzej Duda said on Thursday at a ceremony marking 75 years since the outbreak of the WWII revolt in which Jewish fighters took up arms against Poland’s German invaders.
Duda, Israeli Ambassador to Poland Anna Azari, Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki and other Polish officials took part in commemorations on Thursday which started at the Jewish cemetery in Warsaw, the final resting place of some of the uprising’s fighters.
Duda said they died “fighting for dignity, freedom, and for Poland, because they were also Polish citizens”, while Azari said they were role models for modern Jews.
While church bells tolled across the city at midday, Duda laid flowers at the Monument to the Ghetto Heroes located at the site of 1943 struggles between Jewish fighters and Nazi German forces.
The Polish president was on Thursday evening expected to attend a music concert in the culmination of the day’s events in front of the Monument to the Ghetto Heroes.
Young Polish composer Radzimir Dębski has written a special piece for the occasion.
The Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, which broke out on April 19, 1943, and lasted until May 16, was the first uprising in German Nazi-occupied Europe and the largest act of armed resistance by Jews in World War II. It is estimated that about 13,000 insurgents died in the ghetto during the revolt.
Some surviving Jewish combatants later fought in the Warsaw Uprising, launched by Poland’s underground Home Army (AK) on August 1, 1944.
The Warsaw ghetto, established in April 1940, was the largest of the many ghettos which the Germans set up across Poland to isolate the Jewish population after invading the country in September 1939.