The mass deportations or "resettlement" of the Jews of Warsaw began on the 22 July 1942 and continued with some short pauses until the 12 September 1942.

During those seven weeks, 265,000 Jews were taken to Treblinka and murdered.

Himmler insisted that no Jews were to be left in the Generalgovernment except labourers in assembly camps.

On the 16 December 1941, shortly before the Warsaw conference Frank stated at a meeting of the Generalgovernment administration: "as a veteran National Socialist, I must state that if the Jewish tribe were to survive this war while we sacrifice our finest blood to save Europe, the victory in this war would only be a partial achievement. For that reason, my outlook toward the Jews is based on the hope that they will cease to exist. Is it necessary to remove them. . . but what would be done with them? Do you suppose we will resettle them in settlers villages in Ostland? In Berlin they said to us: "What is all the great fuss about? There is nothing to be done with them in Ostland or in the Reichskommissariat. Do away with them yourselves"."

The veteran Jewish leadership in Warsaw believed that the Germans could not inflict serious harm on the largest Jewish community in Europe. As it happens the opposite was true, Warsaw as a city, was the largest urban concentration of Jews in Europe and represented an absolute challenge to the Nazis.

The Jewish leadership assumed that as long as they maintained contact with the regime they had an amount of maneuverability, yet what came to pass illustrated that as long as they maintained contact with the regime they had no maneuverability.

As early as the 19 January 1942, Adam Czerniakow had expressed his fears of such an eventuality in his journal, "I cannot shake off the fearful suspicion that the Jews of Warsaw may be threatened by mass resettlement." Again on 15 May he noted, "The city is full of rumours about deportations. Tens of thousands are being mentioned. Work as usual under such conditions is indeed worthy of admiration. And yet we are doing it every day. Tears will not help us. I must repeat Dickens’ words once more, "You cannot wind your watch with your tears." On the 18 May he concedes that, "persistent rumours about deportations. It appears that they are not without foundation."

In Czerniakow’s diary three days before his suicide and two days before the beginning of the mass deportation, on the 20 July 1942. When the preparations for the operations had just been completed and the unit brought in from Lublin to execute the deportation was already deployed in Warsaw, Czerniakow recorded that, "In the morning at 7:30 at the Gestapo. I asked Mende how much truth there was in the rumours. He replied that he had heard nothing. I turned to Brandt, he also knew nothing. When asked whether it could happen, he replied that he knew of no such scheme. Uncertain I left his office. I proceeded to his chief, Kommissar Bohm. He told me that this was not his department but Hoeheman might say something about the rumours. I mentioned that according to rumour, the deportation is to start tonight at 7:30. He replied that he would be bound to know something if it were about to happen. Not seeing any other way out, I went to the deputy chief of section 3, Scherer. He expressed his surprise hearing the rumour and informed me that he too knew nothing about it. Finally I asked whether I could tell the population that their fears were groundless. He replied that I could and that all talk was Quads und Unsinn (utter nonsense).

I ordered Lejkin to make the public announcement through the precinct police station. I drove to Auerswald. He informed me that he reported everything to the SS Polizeifuhrer. Meanwhile, First went to see Jesuiter and Schlederer, who expressed their indignation that the rumours were being spread and promised an investigation.".

The next day the 21 July 1942, the Nazis gathered hostages, including Judenrat members, people were shot in the street and in their homes.

On the 22 July special forces of the Polish "Blue Police" were placed at the gates, with Ukrainian, Lithuanian and Latvian forces as support troops. At 10:00, Hofle and his aides appeared at the Judenrat headquarters. Czerniakow recorded that, "We were told that all the Jews, irrespective of sex and age, with certain exceptions, will be deported to the East. By 4 p.m. today a contingent of 6,000 people must be provided. and this [at the minimum] will be the daily quota.". Czerniakow closed his diary entry for the day, this the last day of this life with, "Sturmbahnfuhrer Hofle asked me into his office and informed me that for the time being my wife was free, but if the deportation were impended in any way , she would be the first one to be shot as a hostage.".

Official wall posters announced the deportation, the Judenrat was forced to sign it. Responsibility for the orderly conduct of the deportation lay with the Judenrat, the task of evacuation lay with the Jewish police, with the Gestapo in charge of the overall operation.

On the 23 July 1942 the second day, Adam Czerniakow committed suicide. Yisrael Gutman states that, "Adam Czerniakow’s suicide had repercussions throughout the Ghetto and was interpreted in different ways. Those close to Czerniakow, who valued his efforts as the chairman of the Judenrat, believed that his final act was testimony to his personal courage and sense of public responsibility. Other - and particularly circles in the underground who had resolutely denounced the policy of the Judenrat - claimed that Czerniakow’s act of self destruction at a time of supreme trial was evidence of his weakness, and some charged that he had not even summoned up the courage to warn the Ghetto before taking his own life or at least warn his close associates and issue a call for resistance.".

Marek Edelman, states that, "He (Czerniakow) knew beyond doubt that the supposed "deportation to the East" actually meant the death of hundreds and thousands of people in gas-chambers, and he refused to assume responsibility for it. Being unable to counteract events he decided to quit altogether. At the time, however, we thought that he had no right to act as he did. We thought that since he was the only person in the Ghetto whose voice carried a great deal of authority, it had been his duty to inform the entire population of the real state of affairs, and also to dissolve all public institutions, particularly the Jewish police.".

The head of the Jewish police, Jozef Szertnsk, had been arrested on the 1 May 1942 for smuggling and was now released and reinstated. His deputy Szerynski, the man that was in control when he was in prison was to take the initiative, commanding the strategy of the deportation.

The Ghetto police took an active role in the deportation and were even helped by Judenrat members in the first few days. The Judenrat instructed its workers to comply with German demands. Testimony since has revealed the reason for this as an attempt to "avoid German direct involvement".

There were four stages of the deportation or "Aktion".

1) July 22-30. Jewish police assigned SS honoured work, passes, etc.

2) July 31 to August 14. SS assumed full responsibility with German, Ukrainian, Latvian and Lithuanian support troops.

3) August 15 to 6 September. With heightened terror. Documents ignored. People going into hiding. Difficult to meet quota.

4) September 6-10. Only 35,000 Jews to remain. 20,000 - 25,000 in hiding. "Wildcats" not officially recognised.

As the Nazis found it increasingly difficult to fill their quotas, their ordered the Jewish police to personally collect five Jews a day each, to meet the total of 5,000 Jews a day.

The final act of the Nazi deportation was on the 21 September 1942 when the Jewish police and their families became their victims. The number of Ghetto police was reduced from over 2,200 to 380.

We have no exact figures for how many Jews were killed or forced to leave the Ghetto, but the German figures state that 253,741 Jews were sent to Treblinka. In addition to those sent to Treblinka 11,580 were sent to the "DULAG" or were killed during the aktion, and over 8,000 illegally crossed to the Aryan side.

We do know that the Ghetto population in April and May 1942 was about 350,000 and we can calculate that the German figure is 283,701 in total.

There remained in the Ghetto, about 55,000 exempt workers plus "wildcats". The original Nazi plan was that only 10 percent of the population were to remain alive in the ghetto in a "concentration camp", style structure.

Still if 75 percent of the Ghetto population were either sent to Treblinka and murdered or murdered then 25 percent survived the Aktion leaving 73,000. The Ghetto had existed for almost three years and was now a mere remnant.

"Wladka" (Feigel Peltel) a member of the Bund in the Ghetto and a liaison on behalf of the Jewish fighting organisation, gave the following description of the first days of the deportation in her memoirs. "Many Jews believed that the displacement meant no more than moving on to a strange city. They couldn’t have imagined anything else. For months upon months the residents of the Warsaw Ghetto had seen packed trucks bringing in Jews who had been expelled from surrounding towns, so that they believed that the same fate awaited us. My mother quickly resigned herself to whatever might happen. As she always did when overcome by anxiety, she tried to comfort herself and adapt her thinking to the inevitable.

The tenants of two hostels (that housed Jewish refugees from Germany and Czechoslovakia) received a days notice that they must leave on the morrow. They had already undergone so many moves from city to city and country to country that they showed no signs of fear or despair. Warsaw or Vilna, Smolensk or Kiev, it was all the same to them.".

The Nazis were systematic, in that they only dealt with one section of the population at a time, the weakest first.

As hunger increased a special "appeal" was made by the commander of the Jewish police, on the 29 July. "I hereby inform the residents subject to expulsion that in accordance with the orders of the authority anyone who voluntarily reports for evacuation on July 29, 30 and 31 will be provided with food, namely 3 kilos of bread and a kilo of jam. The assembly point and distribution of food - stawki square, corner of Dzika.".

In an underground report to London, it states, "If we also take into consideration the fact that some family members had already been resettled and the rest without being sure of the situation hoped to be reunited with them, it is possible to understand the initial phenomenon of hundreds and later on thousands coming to the assembly point daily, individually or in groups, in wagons or in rickshaws, carrying their bundles for the long journey in their hands or on their backs. Every day you could see little children - eight, ten, twelve years old- going to the Umschagplatz to travel on to their parents. In order to supply food to the volunteers the German authorities allocated 180,000 kilos of bread and 36,000 kilos of jam. On August 1st further appeals to the population appeared in the Ghetto stating that the "resettlement" operation was not over and urging those who had not succeeded in getting into safe shops to report to the Umeschlagplatz willing.".

Stefan Ernest, reports on this latter stage of the deportation that, "A kind of stiff determination has been aroused but unfortunately it expresses itself not in active resistance but in the courage to die a sufferable death.".

The letters from Treblinka added to the overall confusion as many were willing to believe anything but the truth. "Mysterious letters written by the deportees and dispatched from the vicinity of Bialystok, Pinsk, Brzesc on the Bug river cropped up. They were supposedly brought to the Ghetto by policemen and railroad workers. As later became clear these were either poor forgeries or letters that were indeed written by evacuees as dictated by the Germans at the site of (their) death in Treblinka.".

The Bund’s paper "On Guard", in the week after the Aktion ended. on the 20 September 1942, under the title "The Jews of Warsaw are murdered in Treblinka", stated that, "During the first weeks of the "Evacuation Aktion", Warsaw was swamped by postcards written by Jews deported from the city. Greeting supposedly arrived from Bialystok, Brzesc, Koscow, Malkinia, Pinsk and Smolensk. It was all a lie! All the trains (filled) with Jews from Warsaw went to Treblinka where the Jews were exterminated in a horrifying way. The letters and postcards come from people who managed to escape from the (freight) cars or the camp itself. It is also possible that a few Jews included in the first deportations. . . were intentionally sent to Brzesc or to Pinsk so that their postcards would deceive, mislead, and create false illusions in the Warsaw Jewish community.".

Levin reports that on the 11 August 1942. "Smolar phoned Sokolov. He told him that those going, if they are going to Treblinka are destined for death. The news brought by K/N. There is a Jew in Warsaw by the name of Slava who passed on information about information about Treblinka. Fifteen kilometres before the Treblinka station, the Germans meet the train. During the disembarkation from the cars, they brutally beat the people. Then they put them in to gigantic barracks. For five minutes you can hear them scream. Then everything is quiet. They remove the dead, who are grotesquely swollen, a single man cannot get his arms around a body of that size, its so gross. Grave diggers are selected among the victims, and the next day they are among the corpses. It is dreadful.".

The Bund assigned Fridrict Zalman (Zigmunt) to find out what was at Treblinka, with the aid of a Polish socialist rail worker. It took him three days to return from Treblinka. Civilians were forbidden to approach Treblinka railroad station. No transports of food went to Treblinka. In the morning Zigmunt met two fugitives from the camp, both naked in the market place, they both gave full details of the camp, one of the fugitives was a Bund member, comrade "Wallach".

Judenrat statistics state that 6,687 Jews were shot during the Aktion, 1,124 in July, 2,305 in August and 3,158 in September. This does not necessarily imply a growth of resistance in the general sense, this was a period of constantly rising terror and a Levin states, " Today the nineteenth day of an "operation" unprecedented in history of mankind. . . one can speak of only a few isolated incidents of resistance. A Jew defended himself against a German and was shot on the spot, another struggled with a Ukrainian and got away after being wounded, and a few other facts of this kind.".

If we were to ask, why there was no revolt during the Aktion, even a revolt against the Jewish police, who were not armed. we could not give a definitive answer, only a series of contributing factors.

The perpetual uncertainty and ignorance, the assumption that the Germans intended to uproot only part of the Ghetto population, primarily refugees, etc. The persistent rumours about when the Aktion would end, the steadily deteriorating circumstances and the ability to resist.

Above all it was the assumption that resistance would only make matters worse while resignation that dispossion of part of the population might secure the safety of the remaining population.

It seems that even after the reports of Treblinka many Jews could simply not bring themselves to believe that the physical existence of all Jews in Poland was under threat.

On the first or second day of the Aktion, sixteen representatives of the underground met to discuss their response. The sixteen represented a wide spectrum of opinion. Zuckerman, recalled in a Z.O.B report to London in November that, "The representatives of the leftist Zionist parties and the Halutz, as well as some of the public figures present, called for some form of energetic action. The majority demanded that we wait. How long? Until the situation became clear, for rumours were rampant that only 50,000 - 70,000 people would be deported from Warsaw, the elderly, the sick, prisoners, beggars, etc., and with that the Aktion would end. All the rest would remain.". Berlinski recalls that the agenda set was, "The conclave was impressed by the statements of Frydman and Schipp. Frydman placed his trust in faith. "I believe in God and in miracles. God will not allow his people, Israel, to be destroyed. We must wait and the miracle will happen. Resistance is hopeless. The Germans are capable of finishing us off in a few days (as in Lublin). But if things are handled (as I suggest) everything may continue for a while and a miracle is bound to happen. . ." Schipper was not in favour of resistance. Self defence would mean the total destruction of the Warsaw Ghetto. "I believe that we will be able to preserve the essence of the Ghetto in Warsaw. We are in the midst of a war. Every nation sacrifices victims. We too are paying the price in order to salvage the care of the people. Were I not convinced that we can succeed in saving that care, I too would come to a different conclusion." The meeting dispersed with the intention of convening a second time. The course of events put rest the possibilities of any further gathering.".

Goldstein stated that, "It was clear to all of us that we were incapable of rebelling and calling for active resistance now on our own, against the will of the overwhelming majority of the Ghetto.". Berlinski recalls that the position of the Bund was, "Active resistance and sabotage at the deportation is the only possible approach.".

During the first day of the Aktion, the Bund published a special edition of its newspaper. It called for active resistance to the deportation, for Jews not to report to the Umschlagplatz, not to allow the Germans to catch them and to struggle with the Jewish police. The appeal also said that the Germans were liars and that the transport was carrying the deportees not to places of work but to death.

Still only three of the sixteen supported active resistance only, the Bund, the He-Halvtz and Ha-Zaire youth groups were in favour. Zuckerman explains the outcome as, "The more activist elements, the left factions ... established an actions committee together with the Bund. This body was likewise unable to carry out its tasks properly, since any imprudent step brought death in its wake. The mere act of crossing the street was like crossing through the front between two warring countries. In addition, the number of members declined a few days after its establishment...".

Edelman confirms that the action committee was established and was to be prepared for active resistance. "Any moment now we expect to receive arms from the Aryan side of Warsaw. All the youth are mobilised. For three days, so long as the last chance of receiving arms has not been dispelled, the state of tense alert has continued.". Their wait was in vain, they received no assistance from the Aryan side. The Bund lost the majority of its 500 members in the deportation. Edelman continues "We remain a tiny remnant. We do what we can, but that’s not very much. We want to save whatever possible at any price. We arrange for people to work in German enterprises which, it was believed at the time, were the best. Slowly we lost contact with everyone. There remained only one fairly large group of members (20 to 25) at the Brushmakers on Franciszkanska Street.".

On the 28 July 1942, at the close of the first week of the Aktion the youth movements, Ha-Shomer ha Za’ir, Dror He-Halutz, Akiva, founded the Jewish Fighting Organisation, it had the Polish name, Zydowski Organizacja Bojowa and was known as the Z.O.B. Its founders viewed the Z.O.B as a nation-wide organisation and not limited to Warsaw. It was to have branches in other cities and towns, where ghetto’s still existed. The Z.O.B called for organisation and resistance with a view to mass revolts.

Zuckerman’s report to London states that until arms were received the Z.O.B set about organising,

"1) To publish a manifesto addressed to the Jewish public and explain that the "resettlement meant Treblinka, and Treblinka meant death.". The Jews must hide their women and children and forcefully resist the German commands.

2) To forge German livelihood cards (work documents) and distribute them among the sector of the population that was not "privileged" to work in German workshops and be counted among the productive element. We distributed thousands of documents of this kind.

3) Since members of the Ordingschent (Jewish police) in the Ghetto and the Jewish council (Judenrat) along with the Ukrainians and Latvians, are carrying out the German’s orders, their contemptible work must be actively resisted. A death sentence was issued against the commander of the Jewish police, Jozef Szerynski. To our astonishment and bitterness, our appeal fell on deaf ears. They still didn’t believe.".

The Z.O.B was not an armed resistance organisation during the period of mass deportation, it had one revolver and had no time to organise and no experience of combat.

More importantly the Z.O.B was divided on methods, the younger members favoured a spontaneous insurrection, the leaders of the youth movement a systematic approach.

The first point of agreement was that Jozef Szerynski leader of the Jewish police should receive the death sentence. Yisrael Kanal, an ex-Jewish policeman carried out the assassination attempt on 20 August 1942. A Jewish police officer recalls that, "During the second half of August, the attempt on Szerynski’s life was carried out. A man dressed in a policeman’s cap rang (the bell) his private apartment. He told the women who opened the door that he had a letter for Szerynski. When Szerynski walked out toward him, his head slightly turned to the side, the man shot at him and wounded him in the face. In a rare fluke, the bullet penetrated his left cheek a bit high and exited through his right cheek without touching the tongue, teeth or palate.".

The Z.O.B had two members in the Jewish Police, Arie Grzybowski and Yehuda Engelman. Both were to play an important part in the activities of the Z.O.B.

Adolf Berman in an article written in 1943 recalled that, ". . . it was on August 20, that the organisation (Z.O.B) also fired it’s first shot. A fighter seriously wounded the commander of the Jewish police, . . . The public generally reached to the news of the assassination attempt with admiration, since the police force was the object of hatred. Judenrat aides spread the rumour that the assassin was a Polish socialist. It is interesting that no German retaliation followed the assassination attempt. The ghetto’s internal settling of accounts no longer concerned them. . .".

At this time arson attacks were the Z.O.B’s main weapon of sabotage, this climaxed on the 19 August 1942 then on 21 August 1942, Soviet planes bombed Warsaw many Jews drew encouragement from the bombing.

The Z.O.B’s forces attempted to establish links with the partisans, but the first partisan groups were limited and did not represent any real force.

The partisans lacked training, arms and combat experience, most Jews that entered the partisan units died in a short time. On the 21 August 1942 the Z.O.B received its first shipment of arms. It consisted of five revolvers, and eight hand grenades.

Then on the 3 September 1942, disaster hit the Z.O.B, they had their arms confiscated. "In our naivety, we saw ourselves as fighters combating the Nazis face to face. What a devilish farce. The dent is omnipotent. He is totally unrestrained. We debate, deliberate, discuss and by the time we’ve arrived at something, they came along and slap our faces. A single gentle slap. For what really happened? They came to arrest a man in one of our "shops", shot a man on Gesia street and arrested a girl wandering around the streets with a sack during the deportation. All quite routine acts that neither surprise nor particularly disturb anyone in the ghetto. But for us it’s the end. Nothings left but to go out in to the streets and fight with our fists . . . while we’re still together; while we still have the will.".

The Z.O.B became dived in two camps, the "extremists" and the "moderates". Yitzhak Zuckerman a moderate remembers telling a gathering of Z.O.B members, ". . . it would be best to sit tight and just pull through now, during this deportation. Not for the sake of our future or out of hope for a new life. The future and the new life will come after us. We are no longer a creative avaunt garde. Our creation can only be destruction and revenge. Our weapons have been taken from us. We should therefore vanish off the face of the earth, burrow down and hide, prepare and train there, and then re-emerge once we have become a force that can assault the enemy in a single (massive) attack.

It was a fateful night for the remnants of the Jewish Fighting Organisation. We took a vote and resolved to pluck up our courage and rebuild the armed Jewish force. Our remaining strength would be dedicated to that end. No effort would be spared on that night."

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