19 April 1943

Members of the Jewish Military Union and the Jewish Combat Organization also engaged in intense battles in and around the workshops (manufacturing complexes producing assortments of goods for the Third Reich).

The fighting that took place in the brushmakers’ workshop, which was located in the tenement houses lying between Świętojerska, Wałowa, Franciszkańska and Bonifraterska streets, occupies a special place in history. Marek Edelman commanded the five insurgent units which operated there. The Germans, attacked with Molotov cocktails and grenades, even proposed a ceasefire and the safe transfer of the workshop workers to labour camps in Poniatowa and Trawniki. However, the offer was rejected. The fighters of the Jewish Combat Organization also fought in the central area of the ghetto: at Franciszkańska and Miła streets, in the Toebbens and Schultz workshops, and along Gęsia and Zamenhofa streets.

German troops attacked daily, making every effort to destroy the Jewish district as quickly and spectacularly as possible. Stroop wrote in his report:

“There continued to appear combat groups comprising 20 to 30 or more Jewish youths between the ages of 18 and 25, which were always accompanied by a specific number of women; they served to rekindle the resistance”. The insurgents were ordered to remain and fight to the end, and, preferably, commit suicide rather than be captured. Marek Edelman reflected on the immense price which the entire heroic stand entailed: “Thousands of people die in the flames. The smell of burning bodies stifles the breath. Charred corpses lie on the balconies of houses, on the window frames, and on unburned stone steps. […] Hundreds of people end their lives by jumping from the third or fourth floor. Mothers thus save their children from being burned alive”.

The Home Army was not yet ready for a general uprising, however attempts were made to help the Jewish insurgents. For example, on 19 April, Captain Józef Pszenny, pseudonym “Chwacki”, and a group of a dozen or so Home Army soldiers tried to demolish a fragment of the wall at Bonifraterska Street. The intention was to help the insurgents escape from the ghetto. The attempt was unsuccessful, and resulted in the deaths of two Home Army soldiers; a few Germans were also killed.

See also: 

“Three Days, not Longer.” The Warsaw Ghetto Uprising

The Fall of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising