Apr 19, 2023

By Jane Brown

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Presidents and Holocaust survivors and their descendants are commemorating the 80th anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising on Wednesday with a poignant sense that the responsibility for carrying on the memory of the Holocaust is passing from the witnesses to younger generations.

Albert Stankowski, left, the director of the Warsaw Ghetto Museum, Anna Stupnicka-Bando, center, a Polish Christian honored for saving Jews, and Waclaw Kornblum, right, a Polish Holocaust survivor, attend a ceremony for the burial of a “time capsule” on the grounds of the museum in Warsaw, Poland, on Tuesday April 18, 2023. The time capsule contains memorabilia and a message to future generations. It was buried on the grounds of a former children’s hospital, a building that will house Warsaw Ghetto Museum, which is scheduled to open in three years. Tuesday’s ceremony comes on the eve of the 80th anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, the largest single Jewish revolt against German forces during the Holocaust. (AP Photo/Czarek Sokolowski)

The anniversary honours the hundreds of young Jews who took up arms in Warsaw in 1943 against the overwhelming might of the Nazi German army.

There are no surviving fighters still alive.

Marek Edelman, the last surviving commander, died in 2009. He remained in Poland and helped keep alive the memory of the revolt in his homeland.

Simcha Rotem, a fighter who smuggled others out of the burning ghetto through sewage tunnels, died in 2018 in Israel, where he settled.

The small number of surviving witnesses Wednesday were mostly children at the time of the revolt.

Official commemorations are being attended by Presidents Isaac Herzog of Israel, Frank-Walter Steinmeier of Germany and Andrzej Duda of Poland.

The main event takes place in front of the Memorial to the Ghetto Heroes on the hallowed ground where the fighting erupted, with a visit later to Warsaw’s Nozyk synagogue and an evening concert by the Polish-Israeli Youth Symphony Orchestra.

The three leaders represent nations forever shaped by World War II.

Israel was founded after the war to give Jews a home where they could finally be safe after centuries of persecution in Europe.

Germany, which inflicted death and destruction across the vast areas that it occupied, is the perpetrator nation that for decades has acknowledged its crimes and expressed remorse.

And Poland, where Europe’s largest prewar Jewish population lived and which was invaded and subjected to mass death and destruction, carries out its responsibility of preserving sites like the ghetto and the Auschwitz death camp, while also honouring the massive losses inflicted on the entire nation.

Some 6-million Polish citizens were killed during the war, about 3-million of them Jews and the others mostly Christian Poles.

(The Associated Press)

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