Anniversary of Warsaw Ghetto Uprising to be Recognized Friday in Riverside Park

The 81st anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising will be recognized Friday in Riverside Park. This event honors the courageous Jews who, despite being imprisoned, boldly resisted the Nazis for several weeks in a heroic chapter of the Holocaust.

The ceremony will take place at 2 p.m. at der shteyn, the memorial stone in the park between 83rd and 84th streets. It is surrounded by a circular black metal fence and ornamental shrubbery.

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The event will be chaired by Marcel Kshensky, the son of Holocaust survivors, and speakers will include Julia Mintz and Lily Kshensky Baxter. Several artists will perform including Sarah Gordon, Feygele Jacobs, Shifee Losacco, Zalmen Mlotek, Daniella Rabbani and Esti Zanoni. The event is free and open to the public. It is being held by the Congress for Jewish Culture, Friends of the Bund, the Jewish Labor Committee, Workers Circle, and the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research.

The annual gathering to honor the Warsaw Ghetto’s resistance fighters was initiated in 1947. This tradition was established by the Jewish community in New York, along with surviving fighters and other Holocaust survivors, at a site designated by the City of New York for a memorial to the uprising.

The uprising began on April 19, 1943, in the infamous 840-acre section of Warsaw where nearly 400,000 Jews had been confined by the Nazis behind barbed wire and a 10-foot high wall since 1940. From there, most were sent to their deaths in concentration camps if they did not die from starvation and disease. In the summer of 1942, between 250,000 and 300,000 were deported to the Treblinka concentration camp and murdered, after which a resistance effort began secretly forming as guns and more primitive weapons were smuggled in. The uprising began when Nazi troops entered the ghetto on the morning of April 19 to deport the remaining occupants to their deaths. By the time it was over on May 16, thousands of Jewish fighters had been killed, those who remained were transported to concentration camps, and the ghetto was burned down. It was the largest single revolt by Jews during World War II.

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The Riverside Park memorial was one of the first Holocaust monuments in the U.S. It was dedicated on Oct. 19, 1947 before a crowd of 15,000 people, including one-hundred survivors of the Buchenwald and Dachau concentration camps. The rectangular granite stone bears the inscription: “This Is the Site for the American Memorial to the Heroes of the Warsaw Ghetto Battle, April-May, 1943, and to the 6,000,000 Jews of Europe Martyred in the Cause of Human Liberty.” Buried underneath the stone are two boxes of soil from two concentration camps in Czechoslovakia, and a scroll describing the Warsaw uprising in both English and Hebrew.

“When you think of how our parents stared into the face of death every day for years, it can be enough to crush you,” Mr. Kshensky said at the ceremony two years ago. “Yes, we were born from suffering, but we were also born from heroism. We come together at this simple, unpretentious stone, der shteyn as we call it, to honor the extraordinary heroism of the fighters of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising.”


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