Between the January aktion and the grand aktion, a period of 87 days, the Z.O.B organised a decisive consolidation of the resistance. The Z.O.B organised a new framework, it divided the Ghetto into three major combat sectors, the "General Ghetto" with nine combat sectors, the "shop" with eight combat units and the "Brushmakers Area" with five combat units. Of the 22 combat units each had between 12 to 20 members, with an average age of 20 to 25, the youngest combat member was 12 the oldest 40, the twelve year old destroyed a Nazi tank. Each unit was movement based with 5 United Dror He - Halutz units, 4 Ha Shomer ha Za’ir, 4 Bund, 4 P.P.R , Communists, 1 Gordonia, 1 Akiva, 1 Ha-Ho’ar ha Ziyoni and 1 left Po’alei Zion. Only mobilised units were seen as combat squards. The Z.O.B command was in the central Ghetto. The Z.O.B activities from January to April were geared toward combat and confrontation. As the Nazis attempted to create Jewish labour camps and move whole shops, the Z.O.B set fire to the shop’s that were to be removed. The Z.O.B organised opposition to the Nazis policy arguing that, "voluntary relocation means nothing more than to complete annihilation of the Ghetto".

The Z.O.B "purged" the Ghetto of collaborators and began to challenge the Judenrat at each opportunity. Its main activities were centred around the need to obtain arms, it attempted to get help from many sources and organised a tax to obtain money to purchase arms. The Z.O.B’s activities were geared toward the inevitability of combat, battle strategy and preparing for combat. It should be remembered that the Z.O.B existed exclusively for combat. Yitzchak Zuckerman says; "If I had to assess our errors and the things we did right, I would have to say, I am almost positive that we could have got many more fighters out of the Ghetto. But we were afraid to leave so much as a crack open for retreat. Our fear was that we might arouse the notion that a man could save his life even if he did not fight. It was for that reason alone that we did not prepare any "safe houses" on the Aryan side or cars or people who could serve as guides through the sewers... we saw ourselves as a Jewish underground whose fate was a tragic one, as an underground that was not part of the overall war of underground’s the world over and would have to stand cut off and alone; as a pioneer force not only from the Jews standpoint but also from the standpoint of the entire embattled world - the first to fight. For our hour had come without any sign of hope or rescue."

The battle became the "last desire in life", with no option for escape. The Z.O.B overpowered the Judenrat. Yisrael Gutman states that, "The Z.O.B succeeded in dominating the Judenrat and forced the council to follow its orders. It also extracted a quarter of a million zlotys from the Judenrat for the purchase of weapons. When the chairman of the Judenrat, Marc Lichtenbaum, was threatened that his son would be killed if the money was not paid, the cash was turned over to the Z.O.B in three days and the members of the council merely asked that among the reasons given for the payment, the clause reading a penalty imposed as punishment for services to the German’s be deleted."

The Judenrat attempted to undermine the hegemony of the Z.O.B, Alfred Sztolcman the last leader or the Judenrat tried to discredit the Z.O.B to the Polish underground, the Z.O.B resolved to retaliate against Sztolcoman. Zuckerman remembers that, "After we ‘cleared the air’ in the Ghetto, we knew that a member of the Jewish Fighting Organisation would walk around the Ghetto safely. From January to April the Germans were forced to walk in numbers. While the fighters of the organisation could walk alone, the Germans who had to pass through the Ghetto would go in groups or units. You could never see them towards evening. They called the Ghetto "Mexico". There was no longer a curfew in the Ghetto, and we did not have to be in our homes by eight at night, which had been the rule throughout our life under Nazi domination."

As the strength of the Z.O.B increased, it became clear that the annihilation of the Ghetto was eminent, the Z.O.B faced the dilemma of if it had the right to deny the remaining Jews an existence even for a few months or if it had the duty to persuade them to leave. It held the assumption that if any resistance could happen it had to be in the Ghetto that was the prerequisite for any future revolt.

The Z.O.B members set light to shops and when the Nazis attempted to snatch people the Z.O.B retaliated, on one occasion when the Nazis captured a Z.O.B fighter he was liberated, killing two Nazis. In retaliation the Nazis killed about 200 Jews.

Two other fighting groups operated in the Ghetto, the Z.Z.W. and unaffiliated "wildcat" fighting groups.

The Z.Z.W was not as large with 200 -250 fighters as compared to the Z.O.B’s 450 - 500 but they had more arms than the Z.O.B and eventually formed a working relationship.

The "wildcat" groups were mixed in their nature but can be described as effective unorganised "resister", some established by criminals, some by smugglers and many by the "normal" citizens of the Ghetto that wanted to resist but weren’t welcome in the "official" resistance.

After the January Aktion the general activity in the Ghetto increased with what has been described as "bunker mania". Dr. Lensky stated that, "One can say that without exaggeration that the entire population from the young to the old, was engaged in preparing hiding places. The Ghetto looked like an army camp. In the courtyards, one could see the Jews carrying sandbags, bricks and lime. They worked day and night. Especially industrious were the bakers, because bread was purchased in great quantities for the preparation of rusks. The women worked kneading dough, cutting it into strips and preparing noodles... No one thought of willingly going to Treblinka. The survivors prepared everything necessary for remaining in hiding for months."

Alexander Donat states that, "Our first thoughts were to upgrade our bunker. We installed electricity, plumbing and improved the camouflage at the entrance. We set up a special outlook system on constant guard over the steps and the courtyard so that next time no one could surprise us, and we all took part in night duty on two hour shifts. An alarm system was installed in each apartment, and the signal could be given by pressing a button on the ground floor. The orders were to wake everyone up at the least suspicion. The same was true throughout the Ghetto. Shelters were built to stand up to weeks or months (of occupancy) some even until the end of the war. Everyone kept the location of his own shelter and the arrangements at his entrance secret. The majority of these shelters became tombs for the living, but we could not have known that at the time."

There was no direct link with these two forms of resistance, the active and passive but both were essential forms of resistance.

The Z.O.B was still struggling for arms. Mordecai Anielewicz wrote a letter on the 13 March 1943 to the Home Army. "Please inform the authorities in our name that if massive aid is not forthcoming immediately we will view (their lack of action) as indifference... to the fate of the Jews in Warsaw. Allocating weapons without ammunition impresses us as being a bitter mockery of our fate and confirm the assumption that the venom of anti-Semitism continues to permeate the ruling circles of Poland despite the tragic and brutal experience of the last three years. We do not intend to convince anyone of our readiness or ability to fight. Since January 18, the Jewish community in Warsaw has been in a perpetual state of struggle with the conqueror and his lackeys. Whoever denies or doubts that is no more than a spiteful anti-Semite. But we expect the authorities and the representation (of the Polish government) not only to relate to our affairs ‘with understanding but to make the murder of the millions of Jewish citizens of Poland a matter of first priority. We sorely regret that we are unable to contact the Allied governments, the government of Poland, and Jewish organisations outside the country directly in order to report on our situation, and the attitude of the Polish authorities and public towards us. Gentlemen, please do whatever necessary, without delay, in order to get through to the military authorities and the governments representative. I ask that you read this letter and demand at least 100 grenades, 50 revolvers, 10 rifles and a few thousand large - calibre bullets, forcefully and immediately. I am ready to supply detailed blueprints of our situation, accompanied by maps, within two days so that the imperative of supplying arms will not be left open to any doubt.".

As March came to an end the tension in the Ghetto grew with the arrival of German support troops, then on the eve of Passover, "the festival of freedom" 18 April 1943 at 1.00 or 2.00 in the morning came the first report "Ghetto surrounded". It did not come as a surprise after all this was a favoured   date in Hitler’s calendar of hatred.

The "Grand" Aktion was expected for next morning, the Z.O.B fighters took up their combat positions. Chaim Frimmer recalls that, "In the evening a state of alert was proclaimed and the passwords were changed. Now we knew that the Germans were readying themselves for an Aktion in the Ghetto. A single password was established for the fighters in all the groups - "Jan - Warsaw" and we began fortifying the position. The approach to the gate of the courtyard was blocked by a wagon that we turned wheels up. We removed closets and the rest of the heavy furniture from the apartments and stacked them in the gateway. The windows were fortified with sandbags. People were assigned to their various positions. I received an order from Berl Braudo to check the weapons and pass out ammunition to the men. We filled baskets with Molotov cocktails and passed them on to the positions... Mordecai Anielewicz arrived and into Yisrael’s room. After consultation they came out and walked through the rooms and apartments, selecting appropriate spots for positions. People from other groups came to receive provisions, battle rations - rusks, sugar, groats, "Gank" (doses of cyanide) was passed out to certain people, especially those whose tasks required them to be mobile and heightened their chances of being caught by the Germans and tortured during interrogation.".

The Nazis had anticipated resistance, Van Sammern was in command and assumed only a hard core of militants. Jurgen Stroop was to supervise as he had served in the SS and police commander in Eastern Galicia. Stroop had arrived in Warsaw on the 17 April but was to take control of the "Grand Aktion" on the 19 April at 8.00 am as Von Sammern’s replacement.

The information that we have on the aktion is compiled from many sources not least the SS report by Jurgen Stroop, "The Jewish Residential Quarter of Warsaw is no more".

We know that the Jews had 750 fighters, this does not include "wildcat" groups. The Nazis had SS units, the Police, the regular army and foreign troops, the average Nazi combat force was over 5,000 each day.

The Nazi weapons and equipment were the same as front units, with the addition of armoured vehicles, French light tanks, cannons, flame throwers, anti-aircraft guns and heavy machine guns.

The average Jewish fighter had, their personal pistol, 10 to 15 bullets and 4 or 5 grenades, in total the Z.O.B total 2,000 grenades, 2,000 Molotov cocktails, 10 rifles and one or two submachine guns. The Z.Z.W had the addition of some light machine guns.

While imprisoned in Poland Jurgen Stroop explained that, "The residents of the Ghetto knew all the moves of the German authorities. They were ready for anything and took appropriate counter measures. Thus the building of shelters in cellars, which was done in accordance with orders, was exploited for the construction of bunkers to defend the Ghetto, and thus was kept from the German authorities. Col. Von Sammern told me that despite the secrecy, as early as April 17th (the Jews) were informed by telephone of the hour when the operation would begin! In my opinion, this was the crucial reason for the failure of the operational units under (Von Sammern’s) command to penetrate (the Ghetto) during the morning hours of April 19, 1943. (The Jews) were prepared and were not intimidated by the use of armour and half-tracks (they had incendiary bottles, powerful home-made bombs, revolvers, low calibre rifles and even German uniforms). But they underestimated the fighting power of the police stationed in Warsaw.".

Simha Ratajzer a Z.O.B fighter, recalls his first encounter with the Nazis as they entered the Ghetto, "At 4.00 in the morning we saw a column of Hitlerites at the Nalewski passage moving toward the central Ghetto. (The column) marched and marched without end, and a few thousand strong. Behind it came a few tanks, armoured cars, light cannon, and a few hundred SS troops on motorcycles. "They’re marching like they are off to war. "I commented to Zippora, my partner in the position, and suddenly I sensed how weak we were. What are we and our force against an armed and equipped army, against tanks and armoured cars, while we have only revolvers, and at best, grenades in our hands."

The first armed combat was in the central Ghetto, where two Z.O.B combat squads caused havoc, the Nazis retreated and dispersed. The main battle of the day involved four Z.O.B squads, Chaim Frimmer recalls, "At five in the morning, a loud rumble was heard. Suddenly I saw from my lookout on the balcony that cars had come through the Ghetto gate. They reached the square, stopped and soldiers got out and stood to the side. Then a truck arrived carrying tables and benches. The distance between me and the cars was about 200 meters and since I had good binoculars I could see them clearly. The tables were set up in a D shape, wires were laid and telephones were placed on them. Other cars came with soldiers bearing machine guns. The motorcycle riders arrived and some ambulances and light tanks could be seen stopping by the entrance. The Latvians who had been standing there through the night, were removed and sent en masse in the direction of the Umschlagplatz. At six a column of infantry entered. One section of the column turned into Wolynska street and the other remained in place, as if awaiting orders. Before long the Jewish Police came through the gate. They were lined up on both sides of the street and as ordered, began to advance toward us. I would report everything to a fighter lying down not far from me (who in turn passed the word on) to the command room, where Mordecai Anielewicz, Yisrael Kanal and others were seated. When the column of Jewish police reached our building, I asked how to proceed, Attack or Not? The reply was to wait, Germans would surely follow, and the privilege of taking our fire belongs to them. And that’s exactly what happened. After the Jewish police crossed the street, an armed German mobile column began to move. (I was ordered to wait) until the middle of the column had reached the balcony and then throw a grenade at it, which would serve as a signal to start the action... A mighty blast with the column was the signal to act. Immediately thereafter grenades were thrown at the Germans from all sides, from all the positions on both sides of the street. Above the tumult of explosives and firing, we could hear the sputter of the German Schmesser (a submachine gun) operated by one of our men in the neighbouring squad. I myself remained on the balcony and spewed forth fire from my Mauser on to the shocked and confused Germans... The battle lasted for about half an hour. The Germans retreated leaving many dead and wounded in the street... Again my eyes were peeled on the street, and then two tanks came in, followed by an infantry column. When the tank came up to our building, some Molotov cocktails and bombs put together from thick lead pipes were thrown at it. The big tank began to burn and engulfed in flames. made its way toward the Umschlagplatz. The second tank remained in place as fire consumed it from every side.".

Jurgen Stroop’s report comments on his replacement of Von Sammern after this first encounter, "At 6.00 am on April 19, Col Von Sammern initiated the Aktion, and he remained in command of it, by mutual agreement. Since he had made all the preparations and was familiar with the place. I consented to come to the Ghetto, which I had never seen before, at about 9.00 am on April 19. At around 7.30 Von Sammern turned up at my lodgings and announced that all was lost, that the forces he had sent into the Ghetto had retreated and there were already dead and wounded, I can’t remember how many. Von Sammern said that he would call Cracow and request that "Stuka" planes bomb the Ghetto to quash the rebellion that had broken out. I told him not to because I wanted to review the situation on the spot.

...I asked for a map of the Ghetto and entered through the gate, while bullets showered down on me incessantly... I handled the forces according to the rules of street fighting, lining stormtroopers along both sides of the main street so that they would not go charging forward blindly, as had evidently happened before. I issued the appropriate orders to the commanders of the units. My intention was to gain control of at least the buildings on the main street."

Jurgen Stroop commented on what he described as, "the battle of the bunkers". "The number of Jews trapped in and removed from the buildings was very small. It turned out that Jews were hiding in sewers and specially equipped bunkers. During the first few days only a few bunkers were believed to exist, but as the major operation continued, it became clear that the entire Ghetto was systematically equipped with cellars, bunkers and passages."

On the first day only 580 Jews were caught, mostly in shops. That night the Ghetto was free of Germans.

On the second day Jurgen Stroop’s first day in command, SS troops entered a hospital, threw the sick and nurses on to a fire, killed the new born babies by smashing their heads against a wall and disembowelled the mothers. Most of the fighting was in the Brushmakers Area, where Marek Edelman was in command of five Z.O.B groups.

The next day saw the destruction of the Z.Z.W main force, few Z.Z.W members lived through the war.

On the 20 April two Polish underground "support actions" were attempted. The first, an attack on the Ghetto wall by the Home Army, A.K, left two of their members dead and two wounded, the second by the People’s Army, AL, combat group against and artillery crew killed two Nazis at the cost of one member. On the same day, "Hitler’s birthday", Stroop gave the Z.O.B an ultimatum, either surrender or the Judenrat die and the Ghetto levelled.

Few Jews were caught alive, the bunkers resisted so the Nazis blow them up. On 21 April the Nazis changed tactics they now operated in small groups house by house the Z.O.B changed tactics to compensate, both sides now employed mobile squads. In the Brushmakers Marek Edelman reports a change of tactics. "The fighters put up a strong stand that the Germans were finally forced to give up on defeating them by force of arms and found new, presumably more effective means. They set fire to the Brushmakers area from every direction. In an instant the flames attacked the entire block. Black smoke chokes the throat, seeping into the eyes. We decide to risk everything on one chance and break through to the central Ghetto. The fighters do not want to fall to the blaze. On the way, the flames lick at our clothes, which catch fire. The asphalt melts under feet and turns into sticky, black slime. The glass scattered everywhere also turns into ooze and our feet stick to it. The heat from the paving stones burns the soles of our shoes. One after the other we flee through the flames, from building to building, yard to yard. There’s no air left to breathe; a hundred hammers pound in our heads. Burning wooden beams fall on us. Finally we leave the area of the fire. It is wonderful to stand in a place that is not ablaze. But the most difficult is yet to come. the only way to get to the central Ghetto is through a small opening in the wall guarded by the gendarmerie, Ukrainians and the "blue police". Twelve men are standing guard over a passage 2 meters wide and five combat squads must get through there. One after the other, our shoes wrapped in rags to muffle the sound of footsteps, under heavy fire, and great tension, Gutman, Berlinski and Greenbaum groups make their way through. Jurek Blones’ group lags behind. The moment its first members reach the street, the Germans illuminate the spot. Before the Germans recover their units, we are already on the other side. Here, having joined up with the local groups, we continue to act."

Himmler on the 24 April, states that, "The combing of the Warsaw Ghetto must be carried out thoroughly with a hard heart, without mercy. It is best to proceed rigorously. The incidents in Warsaw prove how dangerous these Jews are.".

On the 21 April 5,200 Jews were caught; all "workers". The main tactic is to burn down houses and force an open fight. On the 26 April Stroop states that, "During today’s operation many housing blocks were set aflame. This is the only and ultimate way to defeat the rabble and scum of the earth and bring them above ground.".

On the fifth day of the "Grand Aktion" Jurgen Stroop believed that the revolt had come to an end. He divided the Ghetto into 24 sectors and ordered a final search. The Nazis officially destroyed 631 bunkers in the "Grand Aktion". A survivor of the war of the bunkers describes life in his bunker, "I can’t think of anything but breathing air. The air in the bunker is unbreathable. (But) it’s not only the heat. The steaming walls give off an odour as if the mildew absorbed during decades had suddenly been released by the catalyst of heat. And there is no air. There is no talk in the bunker because it is more difficult to breathe when you talk. But from time to time shouting and scuffles break out. Nerves are taut, and for the most part the shouts are over nothing. We haven’t eaten for twenty four hours. Only dry bread is left and the water is more or less fit for drinking. All the food has spoiled. The heat and the odour have tainted it, so that the ample reserves are inedible.".

Jurgen Stroop on the 24 April reports that, "From time to time it became clear that despite the terror of the raging fire, the Jews and the hooligans preferred to turn back into the flames rather than fall into our hands.". On the 26 of April he reports that, "The entire former Jewish residential quarter was again combed today by the same stormtroopers going over the same sectors. That way I hoped that the commander would approach as far as the open lines of the housing blocks and courtyards familiar to them so that they could advance further and infiltrate the labyrinth of bunkers and underground passages. Almost all the stormtroopers reported some resistance, but it was broken by firing back or blowing up the bunkers.".

The Nazis had intended for the "grand Aktion" to last 3 day’s, but the bunkers then extended the life of the revolt. As Yisreal Gutman states, "In point of fact it took the Germans longer to quell the Warsaw Ghetto uprising than it had taken them to defeat entire countries.".

It is the stand of the population of the Ghetto in the bunkers that give the uprising its "popular" revolt status. Mordecai Anielewicz on the 23 April the leader of the Z.O.B explains that, "I can’t begin to describe the conditions under which the Jews are living. Only an elect few will hold out under them. All the others will persist, sooner or later. Our fate is sealed. In the bunkers where our comrades are hiding, it is not even possible to light a candle at night for lack of air... During the day they sit in the hideouts. Starting in the evening we go over to the partisan method of action. At night six of our companies go out with two tasks before them, armed reconnaissance and the acquisition of arms.".

Marek Edelman states that, "Because conditions had changed so much the Z.O.B revised its tactics and attempted to defend larger concentrations of people hiding from the Germans in bunkers. Thus for example, two Z.O.B squads (Hochberg’s and Berek) moved a few hundred people from a shelter that had been blocked on 37 Mila Street to 7 Mila Street in broad daylight. This latter position which contained a few thousand people was held for over a week. In the meantime, the burning of the Ghetto was drawing to a close. Places of shelter are sorely lacking and even worse there is a shortage of water. The fighters are going down into the shelters together with the civilian population. There they will continue to fight as best they can. The battles and clashes take place mostly at night now. During the day the Ghetto is like a city of the dead. Only on the totally darkened streets do Z.O.B squads meet up with German units. Whoever fires first has the advantage. Our unit circulates through the entire Ghetto and every night many from both sides are killed. The Germans and the Ukrainians go out only in large units and more often than not set up ambushes."

Jurgen Stroop on the 27 April reports that, "The external appearance of the Jews being caught now implies that the turn of the leaders of the rebellion has come. Swearing against Germany and the Fuhrer and cursing the German soldiers, they hurled themselves out of windows, and off balconies.".

On the 8 May the Nazis discovered the Z.O.B’s central command bunker, they blocked the five exits, the Jews fought and then killed themselves, only four found the sixth exit and survived to die on the Aryan side. Jurgen Stroop reports that, "The work of locating the bunker of the inner "party leadership"... continues today as well. We managed to open up the bunker of the party leadership and capture about sixty heavily armed thugs. We succeeded in trapping and wiping out the deputy commander of the Jewish military organisation Z.Z.W and the so called head of its command. About 200 Jews were living in this bunker. 60 of them were caught, 140 were destroyed by the smoke bombs and large explosive charges planted at a number of places... Beforehand the Jews who were brought out of the bunker reported many dead from the smoke bombs. If the war against the Jews and things were difficult on the first six days, we can now state that the Jews and Jewesses who made war in those days are steadily being captured. Again, no bunker is opened up without the Jews inside fighting back with everything they have - machine guns, revolvers and hand grenades.".

The "grand Aktion" came to an end on the 16 May 1943. On the 18 June 1943 Jurgen Stroop was awarded a class "A" Iron cross, for his command over the "Grand Aktion".

The total number of dead is in its self hard to calculate, Jurgen Stroop reports that only 16 Nazis died and 85 wounded, this is unlikely. Jewish sources put the figure higher at about 400 dead and 1000 wounded and Polish sources put the figure even higher.

What is strange in the Stroop report is the figure given as the total number of Jews caught and destroyed in the Grand Aktion it exceeds 56,065. In the Autumn of 1942 there were only 55,000, Jews in the Ghetto, about 5,000 were deported in January, over 8,000 fled to the Aryan side, subtract those that died between September and April or transferred to work camps and the total number of Jews in the Ghetto in April is less than 40,000.

After the Grand Aktion the resistance did not stop, the Polish reports mention fighting on most days. "On the 27th, 28th, 29th and the 30th of this month, exchanges of fire day and night, especially during the night of May 30th, and during the day of May 31st, Heavy fighting on Przejazd and Leszno street... Jews attempted to break through to the Aryan side. On the other hand, during the day the Germans continue to pull Jews out of the bunkers and from under burned out buildings and shoot them on the spot".

The Polish reports on the 27-31 May states that, "The situation in the Ghetto appears to be deteriorating... Today the borders of the Ghetto were surrounded by strong SS units and armoured cars penetrated the area. We can expect the Germans to take far reaching steps against the Jews in hiding. According to information from the ‘G’ the Germans casualties who have fallen in the cause of liquidating the Jews have been very heavy".

Arie Najberg wrote in his memories, "The strategy of the operation constantly changed. Up to then they had used armed force ended by technical support - fire, dynamite, listening devices - and sometimes by dogs. But as the Aktion progressed, it became more difficult to uncover the remaining bunkers and more difficult still to capture people alive. They therefore turned to ruse when they entered an area, the German companies would bring along Poles and a Jewish informer. The informer would walk around in the courtyards and call out various names or shout in Yiddish "Jews come out! the war is over!" The poles served as bait. They were supposedly sent from the Aryan side to bring help to the Jews. But we who were hiding in the gutted buildings could hear the orders exactly as they were given, and we were not fooled. We also warned all the other Jews in our area."

At the end of the Grand Aktion as in preceding months, individuals were still crossing over to the Aryan side, as late as September and October individuals managed to escape, even in January of 1944 a man escape. When no Jews or Jewish dwellings remained in the Ghetto the spirit of resistance still remained in the rubble.

The Home army paper of the 29th of April recalled that, "The second act of the savage annihilation of the Jews in Poland opened a week ago. The Germans had intended to deport the 40,000 Jews still resistance. The Jewish fighting organisation initiated a war of the weak against the strong. With meagre forces scarcely armed with weapons and ammunition without water, blinded by the smoke and the fire, the Jewish fighters defended the streets and individual buildings and silently retreated one step at a time - more from the fire that engulfed the crowded buildings than from the enemy, who was equipped with the latest instruments of war. They will consider it a victory if the enemy’s forces are weakened a bit, and finally they will consider it a victory if they could die with weapons in their hands".

"Fighting Poland" the 30 April, a democratic leftist paper recalled that, "In the British Isles, the American continent and countries beyond the German hell, the Flames rising above Poland - the symbol of the tortures and suffering of them being abandoned to atrocities - cannot be seen. You beyond that "other shore" do not see and do not hear while every echo that reaches us from the burning Ghetto racks our consciences and grieves us. The cup of terrible crimes runneth over. We read bulletins from the fronts - Africa, Russia, China, the Pacific. There too people are dying under different circumstances. In the battle raging behind the Ghetto wall, people are dying differently. It is a battle of the hopeless against a berserk beast of prey. A bulletin from this battlefield should be read out on the front of embattled humanity, so that the fighters on that front can take pride in their comrades-in-arms who are dying in the building and on the streets of the Ghetto with weapons in hand. It cannot be that the clouds of smoke over Warsaw will disperse without trace because then all that we cherish as valour in life would disappear, together with the abominable deeds of the Germans that cry out for revenge".

Polish socialist in a paper called "The worker" on the 1 May 1942 didn’t just criticise major powers, "Warsaw is waiting expectantly for a retaliatory air attack for a retaliatory air attack by the Soviets or the British, which would raise the morals of the Jews fighting in the Ghetto. In the meantime, we have the impression that abroad nothing is known about what is taking place in the Warsaw Ghetto. Who is responsible for this? Is it the man who fills the post of the Delegatura or the Z.W.Z? (A.K) . It comes to mind that facts a "hundred fold less important" are made known to London almost immediately and broadcast to all parts of the world. In contrast, the world was informed of the previous liquidation operation against Polish Jewry in which more than half a million Jews were lost, only after it was over."

Joseph Goebbels on the 1 May 1943 notes in his diary that; "The reports from the conquered territories don’t contain any startling news. The only noteworthy item is the very stiff fighting between our police, including to some degree the army and the insurgent Jews. The Jews have managed to fortify the Ghetto for defence. The fighting there is very bitter, and matters have reached the point where the Jewish high command is issuing Jews military communiqués. The joke evidently won’t last long, but it is a perfect example of what can be expected of these Jews when they have weapons in their hands. Unfortunately, they also have excellent German weapons, especially machine guns. God in heaven only knows how they got their hands on them."

The Nazi press and radio did not carry reports of the Warsaw Ghetto uprising. The governor of the Warsaw district Dr. L. Fischer commented on the 13 May that, "Lately a number of murderous assaults have been perpetrated in Warsaw. They were committed by the same hand that is responsible for the mass graves of the Polish officers at Katyn. All those communist hooligans have found refuge in the former Jewish residential quarter of Warsaw, where they receive generous help and full backing. Thus the Jewish residential quarter has become a nest of all the followers of the Bolshevik ideology, who try to sow disquiet among the population by any means possible. The former Jewish residential quarter steadily being destroyed, and together with it go the hopes of the communists. Anyone who continued to deceive himself then the bloody regime of the Bolsheviks will yet arise in this country is making a grave error. Right now it is everyone’s duty to prevent the communist agents and the Jews carrying out their provocation’s. Any Jews or Bolshevik who is still free today is the most dangerous enemy of the people".

Altogether of the 750 Z.O.B fighters only 80 fighters are known to have escaped, of those Z.O.B members only 12 are known to have lived to see "liberation".

In part this is the responsibility of the Home Army above all the Polish government in exile. The relationship between the Z.O.B and the Home Army was governed by the Polish governments insistence that the Jews should not have an uprising. On the 29 January 1943 Wilod Bienkowski a Z.O.B representative meet the head of the Jewish section in the government delegates department for the interior, it was insisted, "That armed resistance is impossible at present because of London’s ban". This "ban" would not have effected the Z.O.B if it was not for its dire need for arms. The official history of the Home Army states that it was divided into seven units, the Warsaw Unit was well organised and well armed. The Warsaw district at the time of the Ghetto uprising had 25-28,000 members and a significant supply of arms.

In September 1939 it concealed, 135 heavy machine guns with 16,9000 rounds, 190 light machine guns with 54,000 rounds, 6,045 rifles with 794,000 rounds, 1,070 pistols with 8,708 rounds, 7,561 grenades and 7 small anti-tank guns.

The Warsaw district also purchased arms and on occasions sold them to the Z.O.B the Home Army did sell the arms at a profit as the table below shows with the cost to the Home Army and Z.O.B displayed in Zloties.


Home Army


Pistol and one magazine.









Heavy Machine Gun



Light Machine Gun



Ammunition per round




The Home Army also received air drops, between the 15 February 1941 to the 30 April 1942 it received 19 containers of which 5 were lost and on the 1 August 1942 to the 30 April 1943 it received 241 containers of which 42 lost, a total of 213 containers. The two examples illustrated are of MD/OW types.




509 Pounds of Explosives.

206 Pounds of Explosives.

10 Sten Guns 3,000 rounds.

18 Sten Guns 9,400 rounds.

27 revolvers 775 Rounds.

27 revolvers, 575 Rounds.

20 Mills Bombs.

2 Brens 2,520 Rounds.

8 Anti-tank Grenades.

15 Anti-tank detonators.

13 Railway Charges.


We do know that on the 7 July 1944 the Warsaw district sent 900 submachine guns to Home Army units in the East and still arm the Warsaw uprising. Indeed in 1947 one of the Home Army store keepers revealed that he had 678 submachine guns and 60,000 rounds hidden in Leszno Street which had never reached the insurgents.

The fact that the Home Army could have rescued more fighters is illustrated by their supreme ability in the only known case of rescue by the Home Army, when on the 30 May 1943 30 fighters were led from the sewers, Zylberberg remembers, "I shall not try to describe what it was like, I could not do it. Thousands of corpses were rolling in the swirling current of storm-water sewers. In every branch of the sewers there were Jews waiting for a miracle that could never happen. People would join up in groups, then would separate again and attempt singly to reach the surface. Many times we ran from through the man holes. Those who could no longer escape died. We had no food, not even a crumb of bread. Driven on by hunger we crept out at night and like rats we scratched under the rubble in search of a crust of bread or a potato peel. I was gradually losing my strength, my body was covered with ulcers, my legs, encrusted in excreta and other filth, looked as though they were leprous.

On their twelfth day in the sewers, when Zylberberg and his companions were lying in the sludge waiting for their end, there appeared a Jew with a torch light who told them he had come to guide them to safety. They followed him and altogether 30 Jews emerged through the manhole at the corner of Panska and Wronia streets to find themselves surrounded by 15 SS men armed with submachine guns. Convinced that they had been trapped, the Jews climbed into three lorries which drove them across the Vistura into Praga, where they turned north. When the lorries were stopped by the gendarmes at a road block on the outskirts of Praga, Zylberberg heard the SS men tell them in German that they were taking the Jews to their place of execution. The three lorries by passed Legionowo and drove onto the Chotomowski forest where they stopped and the Jews were told to get out. They did so expecting to be shot, but heard one of the SS men say in Polish, "You are free. We have saved you".

Zylberberg along with many other Jews went on to fight in the Warsaw uprising 1 August 1944, but Z.O.B members were not allowed to join the Home Army units and had to join the Peoples Army in the uprising, or as over one thousand did form separate Jewish groups, 22 Z.O.B members formed a group commanded by Yitzhak Zuckermen. The Jews in the Home Army had to hide their identity or could find themselves the victim of a Polish anti-Semitic. Chain Goldstein recalls standing with his Lieutenant a Pole, when he heard shooting, "and suddenly I saw a man on the ground in the last convulsions of death. " Ten he saw a second man, "He marched up to us with a confident step,... On reaching us, he saluted the Lieutenant and said to him with a smile: "To hell with him, he was a Jew! Then off he went."

During the Warsaw uprising, of the Jews that fought in separate groups, over one hundred Jews were murdered by Poles and in the uprising at least five hundred were killed.

In the first year of "Liberation" over 353 Jews were murdered by Poles. These post war murders climaxed on the 4 July 1946 in Kielce, when forty-two Jews were murdered that day, two children, four teenagers, three officers in the Polish army and seven unknown including a death camp survivor. After the "pogrom" in Kielce, over one hundred thousand Polish Jews, more than half the survivors, left Poland.

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