Israel's President Shimon Peres and President Lech Kaczynski of Poland, 14
April 2008

The Polish and Israeli presidents visited Treblinka on Monday

Poland is holding events to commemorate the 65th anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto uprising.

Polish President Lech Kaczynski will host ceremonies at the Ghetto Fighters Monument alongside survivors and Israeli President Shimon Peres.

Ceremonies will start with the lighting of candles at the site from where the Nazis sent thousands of Jews to the Treblinka death camp.

The uprising was the largest act of Jewish resistance in the Holocaust.


For nearly a month in 1943, several hundred Jews, armed with pistols and home-made bombs, resisted German attempts to eradicate the Ghetto.

By that time, the Nazis had sent 300,000 Jewish residents of the Ghetto to the gas chambers at Treblinka.

We are finding more and more Poles who want to work with us in preserving these cemeteries and synagogues and Jewish memory

Michael Schudrich
Poland's Chief Rabbi

The first clashes occurred at the start of 1943 as Ghetto residents took up arms to prevent more Jews being sent to the camp. The full-scale uprising began in April in response to Nazi plans to wipe out the 60,000 remaining Ghetto residents.

Thousands of Jews died in the fighting as Nazi troops resorted to explosives to destroy the Ghetto the German occupiers had created in 1940.

Warsaw Ghetto uprising in detail

The annual commemoration of the uprising is normally held on 19 April but has been brought forward to avoid clashing with the Jewish Sabbath.


A candle-lighting ceremony will also take place at the site of the bunker where the leader of the uprising, Mordechai Anielewicz, and 80 followers killed themselves as Nazi forces suppressed the uprising.

The commemoration will close with the Kaddish, or Jewish prayer for the dead, and a multi-faith service.


Jewish civilians who took part in the uprising, April 1943

Jewish residents fought for nearly a month

The BBC's Adam Easton says Poland's Jewish community - numbering more than three million - used to be the largest in Europe, but was almost completely wiped out in the Holocaust.

But the Polish Chief Rabbi Michael Schudrich says there is growing interest in the country's Jewish past.

"In Poland anti-Semitism is no greater than the unacceptable level of France or England," he said.

"In addition, we are finding more and more Poles who want to work with us in preserving these cemeteries and synagogues and Jewish memory.

"There are more Jewish festivals in Poland today than I believe any other country in the world".

The Polish government also plans to compensate people whose property was stolen by the Nazis and the subsequent communist administrations.

The Israeli president began his four-day visit to Poland on Monday with a visit to the former Treblinka camp in the north-east of the country.