Warsaw Ghetto borders to be marked in red



Sixty-five years after half a million Jews suffered in ghetto, every visitor to Polish capital to be reminded of their fate
Itamar Eichner

Sixty-five years ago it was a place of sorrow and suffering, where hundreds of thousands of Jews lost their lives. But residents or tourists walking in the heart of Warsaw's business district cannot imagine that at the same place, so many years back, 400,000 people were sentenced to death.

This is all going to change now. The Warsaw Municipality recently decided to mark the borders of the Warsaw Ghetto with a red line crossing the heart of the bustling Polish capital, in a bid to remind each of the city's visitors of the horrible crimes committed on its land.

Some 460,000 Jews lived in the ghetto between October 1940 and until its final destruction. Only 60,000 of them survived. Most of the Jews who lived there - some 300,000 - were sent to the Treblinka concentration camp in the summer of 1942. Some 100,000 died of hunger and diseases or during the oppression of the uprising in the ghetto in 1943.

Warsaw was completely destroyed in the bombings at the end of World War II. The route of the streets rebuilt is completely different from the route before the war. Some of the old streets cross new building blocs or parks, making it difficult to mark the ghetto's borders over the years.

Recently, after nine years of deliberations, the Warsaw Municipality reached a solution which would allow the commemoration of the Jews during the Holocaust.

'An important step'

Instead of marking the entire 20 kilometers of the ghetto border, an almost impossible mission, several kilometers will be marked as a symbolic commemoration act. The route will be marked in red - to symbolize a red-brick wall - on pavements and roads in the city.

In addition, 21 monuments marking public buildings or significant milestones in the ghetto's history will be placed in different corners of the ghetto's routes. One of the places marked will be the cemetery on Okopowa Street and Warsaw's cultural hall which was adjacent to the ghetto's walls.

Officials at the Israeli Embassy in Warsaw welcomed the project, saying that this was an important step in the commemoration of almost half a million of the city's Jews.

"The project will bring the memory of the Holocaust closer to the hearts of hundreds of thousands of Polish people," said Israeli Ambassador to Poland David Peleg.

The deputy ambassador, Yossi Levy, said that many of Warsaw's residents were unaware of the fact that the ghetto was located where the city's modern building blocs and offices now stand.

The Warsaw Municipality hopes to end the project before President Shimon Peres' visit to Poland in April. Peres will arrive in the country to mark the 65th anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising.