Many may wonder why Holocaust Remembrance Day is April 16th. The date corresponds with the 27th of Nisan on the Hebrew calendar, which in 1943 was April 19th according to the Western calendar. This day marked the end of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising. Depending on the year, sometimes the date may appear to move around however that uprising is reflective on the Holocaust anniversary’s recognition.
The Jewish community of Warsaw was forced to migrate to a ghetto on Yom Kippur in 1940. The area was no bigger than a square mile and many were unable to survive. Disease, especially typhus, and starvation ran throughout the ghetto. The average food rations were limited to 184 calories a day – and in many cases rations were not distributed, depending on the forces in charge.
The wall was about 10 ft high and was topped with barbed wire. Anyone who tried to escape was shot on site. It’s estimated that the death toll among the Jewish inhabitants of the Ghetto, between deportations to extermination camps, and the razing of the ghetto was at least 300,000.
When Nazi forces entered the ghetto, to take the remaining to a camp for exile, the Jews attacked and stood their ground. The Germans expected no resistance. The Jews of Warsaw fought because they had nothing left to lose.
While it took years to defeat the Nazi forces, the uprising was a milestone for the Jewish community and inspired others to keep fighting for their freedom and the freedom of the future. The up rise will always be remembered because it signified new beginnings and if it weren’t for the bravery in Warsaw, the Nazi’s may have never been defeated.
Today many memorials stand in the Warsaw ghetto. In 1988 a stone monument was built to mark the Umschlagplatz. A few years later, a small memorial at ul. Mila 18 was built to recognize the Jewish underground headquarters during the Ghetto uprising. And in December 2012 a highly controversial statue was displayed of a kneeling and praying Adolf Hitler. Some deem the statue to be incredibly offensive, while others believe it to be educational.