Anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising

‘Any Manifestation of Hatred and Aggression, Including Anti-Semitism, is a Sin’

Anniversary Warsaw Ghetto Uprising
The Umschlagplatz Monument in Warsaw, commemorating 300,000 Jews transported from this place to Nazi death camps (1942-43). Credit to: Sr. Amata CSFN

“The anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising is an appeal to love one’s neighbor, for respect and recognition of the dignity of every human being. It should be unequivocally recalled that, in light of the Gospel, any manifestation of hatred and aggression, including anti-Semitism, is a sin,” – stresses bishop Rafał Markowski, the chairman of the Episcopal Committee for Dialogue with Judaism of the Polish Bishops’Conference, pointing out that the Ghetto insurgents are a symbol of the fight for freedom.

Anniversary Warsaw Ghetto Uprising
The Monument to the Ghetto Heroes, commemorating the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising of 1943. Credit to: Sr. Amata CSFN

Monday, April 19th, marks the 78th anniversary of the outbreak of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising against the German Nazi occupation of Poland. Bishop Markowski recalled that the capital city of Poland was the scene of two uprisings during World War II. In 1943, there was the Warsaw ghetto uprising, and the following year there was the Warsaw Uprising.

The chairman of the Episcopal Committee for Dialogue with Judaism added that the Warsaw ghetto uprising was a heroic attempt to thwart “the demonic plan to exterminate the entire Jewish people.” “The German occupiers had begun murdering the inhabitants of the Warsaw ghetto two days before the most important Jewish holiday, Passover, and the end of the extermination of Jews in the capital was symbolized by the destruction of the Great Synagogue on Tłomackie Street,” he stressed.

Bishop Markowski said that the Warsaw Ghetto insurgents showed heroism, a great will to live, and fortitude of spirit. “They are a symbol of the fight for freedom. This is movingly expressed by one of the slogans of the uprising: ‘If we survive, then only as free people; and, if this is impossible, then as free people we shall die. We will conquer death in battle’. Today, we remember our brothers and sisters who died in the ghetto in shocking circumstances. We remember all those deported to extermination camps, to gas chambers in Treblinka, Majdanek, and to other places” he wrote.

Anniversary Warsaw Ghetto Uprising
Warsaw Ghetto Uprising. Photo from Jürgen Stroop Report to Heinrich Himmler from May 1943. Credit to: Wikimedia (public domain)

He also evoked the beautiful daffodils—a symbol of remembrance of those tragic events and of the heroic people who lost their lives in defense of their dignity and freedom—blooming near the Wall, at the Umschlagplatz monument on Stawki Street in Warsaw. “I would like to thank everyone who joined the ‘Daffodils’ campaign to commemorate the heroes of the Warsaw ghetto Uprising. In this way, we also emphasize the importance of community and solidarity, the need for dialogue beyond differences—as the motto accompanying this campaign says: ‘We are united by memory’”

The Chairman of the Episcopal Committee for Dialogue with Judaism also recalled the words of St. John Paul II who, speaking in March 2000 at the Yad Vashem Center in Jerusalem, said: “The Church rejects racism in any form as a denial of the image of the Creator inherent in every human being”. “On the other hand, in Warsaw, the Polish Pope reminded us of the bond of the history of our Homeland, created by each of its sons and daughters over the past thousand years. He emphasized: ‘All that – including the history of the peoples that have lived with us and among us, such as those who died in their hundreds of thousands within the walls of the Warsaw ghetto (…). All that I embrace in thought and in my heart during this Eucharist and I include it in this unique most holy Sacrifice of Christ, on Victory Square’” bishop Markowski added.

Office for Foreign Communication of the Polish Bishops’ Conference