• Issue: April 1993
  • Designer: R. Avrahami
  • Stamp size: 25.7 x 40 mm
  • Plate no.: 177
  • Sheet of 15 stamps Tabs: 5
  • Printers: E. Lewin-Epstein Ltd.
  • Method of printing: Offset

The Warsaw Ghetto Uprising was the first urban uprising in occupied Europe and the largest uprising of the Jews against the Nazi oppressor.

The Uprising broke out on 19 April, on the eve of the Jewish Passover. The Ghetto population which had managed to survive, following the massive deportations to the death camps in the summer of 1942, no longer nursed their earlier illusions, and had begun to understand that the Germans. under the pretence of 'transferring to work camps', meant in tact to exterminate all the Jews in the Warsaw Ghetto.

The underground fighters had understood what was happening even beforehand and for months devoted themselves to preparing for the moment of trial. They were totally aware that at the end of the day a bitter fate awaited the Jews, and that the immediate moral imperative was, weapon in hand, to face the enemy and to show him and the whole world, valour in protecting the honour of the Jewish fighter, and to force the enemy to pay a price in blood, even though there was no chance of victory.

And so on April 19, when the Germans entered the Ghetto to carry out their evil design, they were met by silent streets. But from the windows and rooftops they were subject to deadly fire and were obliged to retreat. After the first day's fighting, the Germans immediately called for reinforcements which began to destroy the Ghetto building by building. The Jewish fighters had to take refuge in bunkers to continue their armed struggle.

Throughout the resistance the people of the Ghetto joined, out of solidarity and identification, the weapon-holding fighters, once they too understood that while there was no way to survive, the way to maintain honour was through armed struggle against the oppressor.

The Ghetto Uprising lasted close to a month. At a certain stage some of the fighters managed to get out of the Ghetto through the sewers, and they continued to fight actively on the outside.

Only on 16 May could the German commander inform his superiors that "the Jewish Quarter in Warsaw has ceased to exist".

The Warsaw Ghetto Uprising will be recorded in history as an expression of the tenacity and common fate of the Jewish masses, humiliated and starved in the Ghetto, whose courageous fighters resisted the Nazi enemy in an armed struggle which lasted longer than resistance in some European countries.

The Warsaw Ghetto was not unique in raising the banner of revolt against the Nazi oppressor. In many ghettos, large and small, a fighting underground was organised and it was resolved that on the day the Germans tried to annihilate the ghetto, they would oppose them with all the weapons at their disposal. In cities such as Cracow, Vilna, Bialystok, Bendin and Ozestochowa a fighting underground was formed and managed to make contact with the headquarters of the Fighting Force in Warsaw. Communications were maintained through the most difficult of circumstances, due to the large number of messengers who sacrificed their lives in order to carry out their mission, some of whom without their Jewish identity being known.

In the circumstances, the aid which other ghettos could get from Warsaw was slight and they had to rely on their own resourcefulness and imagination to get hold of weapons.

However, even in the ghettos of small towns such as Lachwa, Zhetel, Tuchin, Novogrudok and others, there were attempts to stand up to the Nazis. to attack the oppressor and wherever possible to find a way to escape to the woods to join the partisans.

The uprisings within the death camps were different. The animal conditions under which people lived, the humiliation and the abuse and more than anything else the daily contention with the danger of death did not break the spirit of the prisoners. And in the Treblinka, Sobibor, Trevniki and Auschwitz Camps there were rebellions instigated by prisoners prepared to fight and who also managed to set up a fighting underground within the death camps themselves.

In August 1943 the Treblinka Camp Uprising broke out during which hundreds of Jewish prisoners succeeded in breaking through the camp fence, though only 70 survived. In October 1943 an uprising broke out in Sobibor Camp, in which 11 Germans and Ukrainians died. 300 prisoners succeeded in escaping, but only 50 survived.

In October 1944 the uprising of the prisoners of the Sonderkommando in Auschwitz broke out and they succeeded in destroying at least one gassing unit. All the participants in the uprising died in this attempt at rebellion.

The stamp is a joint issue of Israel and Poland. The design of the stamp, symbolizing the courageous resistance of the revolutionary fighters against the Nazi oppressor, is identical for both countries. The inscription on the stamp is in Hebrew and Polish.

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50 years since the uprisings in the ghettos and concentration camps