NEW YORK – Amb. Ronald S. Lauder, President of the World Jewish Congress (WJC), urged those in attendance at Wednesday’s 80th anniversary commemoration of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising to draw strength and courage from remembering the Jewish fighters who had waged a month-long campaign against the Nazis.
“Everyone here today must use these brave young men and women as inspiration when we face our own challenges ahead. Let us draw strength from them, let us draw courage, and let us always remember them,” Amb. Lauder said at the event, held at the Square of the Ghetto Heroes of Warsaw.
Amb. Lauder appeared alongside President Andrzej Duda of Poland, President Isaac Herzog of Israel and President Frank-Walter Steinmeier of Germany. The event, and the remarks, can be viewed here.
WJC’s affiliated community, the Union of Jewish Communities in Poland, also took part in the commemoration.
The World Jewish Congress has played an important role in these ceremonies since they were first held in the ruins of war-torn Warsaw, and has partnered with the Mayor of Poland and the POLIN Museum to bring the Daffodil Campaign to an international audience.
“I first came here in the 1970s, more than 50 years ago,” Amb. Lauder also said at Wednesday’s event. “Parts of the ghetto still lay in ruins. I stood where I am standing now. It was at night and there was a full moon. … In the shadows, you could see the outlines of where the streets of the ghetto once were. Even though it was so silent, in my mind I could hear the screams, the machine guns, the explosions, all in an overpowering silence. A silence still haunts me.”
The Warsaw Ghetto Uprising was the largest single revolt by Jews during World War II. On April 19, 1943, after German troops surrounded the ghetto, Mordechai Anielewicz, Pawel Frenkel and some 700 members of the Jewish underground staged an uprising that lasted almost one month. At least 7,000 Jews, including Anielewicz and most of his comrades, died as a result.
The Warsaw Jewish community had once been the largest in Europe. At one point, over 400,000 Jews lived in the ghetto, most of them killed by the Nazis.
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