Before World War II Warsaw was regarded as the second city in the world (after New York) with the greatest number of Jewish inhabitants, over 400 000. Present Muranów district (Wola) was the largest Jewish district in Warsaw. On the 16th November 1940 building the wall that finally encircled Muranów was started and within months the district became the infamous Ghetto where the Nazis forced all the Jewish citizens of the capital to live. The Ghetto was to be the burial ground for over 100 000 people who died there of starvation, cold and disease. Those left alive were transported in their thousands to extermination camps in Poland. On the 19th April 1943 realizing their fate the remaining Jewish people in the Ghetto rose up against their Nazi murderers. The desperate Jewish Uprising in Warsaw, led by Mordechaj Anielewicz, lasted until May 1943. At the end the Ghetto of Warsaw was a pile of burning ruins and the vast majority of its population murdered or transported to the death camps. There were few survivors. The Jewish presence in the history of Warsaw has left its mark in many places in the city and the Jewish people were an important and integral part in the development and history of the city.
Monument to the Ghetto Heroes
- Zamenhoffa Street (bus. No. 111, 180. Bus stop NALEWKI). A monument expressing the tragedy of the Ghetto and dedicated to the heroes of the Uprising, created by Natan Rapaport and Marek Suzin in 1948. Here, the 7th of December 1970, the Chancellor of Germany, Willy Brandt, asked pardon for the terrible atrocities committed by the German people during the Holocaust. The boundaries of the Ghetto are marked out in inscribed, black basalt stone on street corners.
- Stawki Street and Dzika Street (tram 35. Tram stop DZIKA). A simple black and white, marble monument is situated over the place where the Jewish people were herded and selected before transportation to the extermination camps. The monument was officially opened in 1988. On its walls are the names of some of the Holocaust victims.
The Jewish Cemetery
- Okopowa 49/51 Str. Tel. +48 22 838 26 22. Open SUN 09.00-16.00, MON-THU 10.00-till dusk, FRI 09.00-13.00. By tram 1, 22. Tram stop CM. ŻYDOWSKI. The cemetery was established in 1806 and covers an area of 33,6 hectares. Most of the rich and celebrated within the Jewish community in Warsaw were buried here. Ceremonies were conducted in the traditional manner. For example, those who were married were not buried with those unmarried. Many well known people have found their last resting place in this cemetery among them Zamenhoff the creator of Esperanto. When entering the cemetery please cover your head.
The Nożyków Synagogue
- 6 Twarda Str. Tel. +48 22 320 70 25. The synagogue is ’hidden’ behind a block of flats and is difficult to find. It is situated at the back of the Jewish Theatre (Grzybowski Square). It is the only synagogue in the city open to the general public. It was founded by Zelman and Ryfka Nozyk in 1898-1902. During the war it was used as a warehouse. In the 70-80’s it was renovated and opened for religious worship again.