Before World War II, the northwest part of the city center of Warsaw comprised a large and mainly Jewish district known as Nalewki. Warsaw's Jewish population was then about 450,000, the largest after New York. In 1940 the Nazis turned Nalewki into the Jewish Ghetto Warsaw and by 1942 they transported over 300,000 people to death camps. A further 100,000 died or were killed in the Ghetto.
Following the Ghetto Uprising in 1943, Nalewki was completely razed to the ground by he Nazis. In the postwar years, redevelopment transformed the area into housing estates, while today, the Monument of the Ghetto Heroes is just one of the many important memorials to those that perished. A museum celebrating 800 years of Jewish civilization in Poland, opened its doors in 2006.
Monuments in the former Jewish Ghetto of Warsaw
Most of the monuments in this district of Warsaw are related to the fate of the many Jewish inhabitants who lost their lives during the Second World War.
Bunker Monument in the former Jewish Ghetto in Warsaw
Between the streets of Mila and Niska, a small mound and bolder commemorate the bunker in which Mordechaj Anielwicz (1917-1943) led the Uprising in the Ghetto. He blew up the bunker, committing suicide.
Monument to the Ghetto Heroes (Pomnik Bohaterow Getta) in the former Jewish Ghetto of Warsaw
Erected in 1948 when the city of Warsaw still lay in ruins, this monument was created by the sculptor Natan Rapaport and the architect Marek Suzin. The work symbolizes the heroic defiance of the Ghetto Uprising in 1943, which was planned, not as a bid for liberty, but as an honorable way to die.
Reliefs carved on to the monument depict men, woman and children struggling to flee the burning ghetto, together with a procession of Jews being driven to death camps under the threat of Nazi bayonets. The monument was created from labradorite stone, quarried in Sweden. It is the stone that the Nazis intended to use for victory monuments in the countries that they conquered.
|Address||Zamenhofa, Warsaw, Poland|
Umschlagplatz Monument in the former Jewish Ghetto of Warsaw
The Umschlagplatz Monument was completed in 1988, on the site of a former railway siding (called Umschlagplatz) where Jews were loaded on to cattle cars and sent to almost certain death in the concentration camps. The monument was a collaboration between the architect Hanna Szmalenberg and the sculptor Wladyslaw Klamerus. The names of hundreds of people from the ghetto are inscribed on to the surface of the monument, including Janusz Korczak and his group of Jewish orphans.
|Address||Stawki, Warsaw, Poland|
Theaters in the former Jewish Ghetto in Warsaw
Emanuel Ringelblum Jewish National Theater in the former Jewish Ghetto in Warsaw
Performing plays steeped in Jewish traditions, the Jewish National Theater was founded in Lodz in 1949, when that city's theater merged with another Jewish theater company in Poland from Lower Selesia. The company moved to Warsaw in 1955, and this building dates from 1970. Performances are in Yiddish, with translations into Polish. The theater also runs a Mime Theater and actor's studio.
|Address||Tłomackie 3/5 Street, Warsaw|
Warsaw Chamber Opera (Warszawska Opera Kameralna)
Originally built as a Protestant church between 1770-1780, this building now houses the Warsaw Chamber Opera. It is also the venue that hosts an annual Mozart Festival held at the end of June and beginning of July. Designed by Szymon Bogumil Zug, the church was founded by the inhabitants of Leszno, a small town established and owned by the aristocratic Leszczynski family. Leszno was originally home to settlers from Germany who came to Poland ,who managed to keep up their Protestant faith.
|Address||Aleja Solidarnosci 76b, Warsaw, Poland|
Museums in the former Jewish Ghetto in Warsaw
Jewish History Institute in the former Jewish Ghetto in Warsaw
The Jewish History Institute's Neo-Classical building was designed by renowned architect Edward Eber and was completed in 1936. When designing this building, Eber aimed to harmonize the façade with that of the neighboring Great Synagogue (which was destroyed by the Nazis seven years later). The building served as both the Judaic Library and the Judaic History Institute. One of the Judaic History Institute's lecturers was the outstanding historian Dr Majer Balaban.
The Blue Tower of Warsaw
With its shimmering aquamarine glass walls, The Blue Tower (Blekitny Wiezowiec) is one of the city's most attractive buildings. It was completed in the early 1990s, after the fall of the Communist regime, by converting a tower block that had stood unfinished for over 25 years. The partially build facades of the tower block featured gold-colored aluminium, and it became known as "the golden tooth of Warsaw." The structure was also said to be cursed, as it had been built on the former site of the Great Synagogue, once the largest Jewish temple in Warsaw. On 16 May 1943, the synagogue was blown up on the orders of the Nazi "butcher of the ghetto", General Jurgen Stroop, in retaliation for the Ghetto Uprising. It represented the last, barbaric liquidation of the Jewish quarter. All that remains of the synagogue is a fragment of one of the stone columns and a cloak-room ticket. Both can now be seen in the Jewish History Institute Museum.
Norblin Factory in the former Jewish Ghetto in Warsaw
Currently housing the Industry Museum, part of the Museum of Technology, this was formerly the Norblin, Buch Bros & T Werner Joint Stock Co, which was renowned for producing silver and silver-plated items, sheet metal and wire. The museum comprises the original production halls, complete with equipment used there, such as stamping presses and forging machines. Additional temporary exhibitions illustrate the intriguing history of the Norblin plant, and the evolution of the motorcycle. This includes a pre-war Sokol (Falcon) motorcycle, which the majority of connoisseurs put on a par with the Harley-Davidson.
Before World War II, Chlodna Street ( Ulica Chłodna) in today former Jewish ghetto Warsaw was one of the busiest streets in the city. Its tenement blocks housed shops and several cinemas. Now, the only remnants of the street's original character are sections of tram rails and a few houses that survived the war. Among these is the Neo-Baroque house at number 20, known as the "House under the Clock". Designed by Waclaw Heppen and Jozef Napoleon Czerwinski, it was built in 1912. During the Nazi occupation, the house was within the ghetto area, and inhabited by Adam Czerniakow, chairman of the Judenrat. Through his diaries, Czerniakow related the tragedy of Poland's Jews. Chlodna street was an important thoroughfare and to make it accessible to the Nazis and prevent Jews from using it, a wall was built along both sides of the road. A wooden bridge then linked the two sides of the ghetto. There is a replica of the bridge in Washington's Holocaust Museum.
The POLIN Museum is home to an extensive collection of artifacts and exhibitions showcasing the more than 1,000 years of history of Jewish life in Poland. The museum is in the heart of the former Jewish quarter, in the area that was turned into the Warsaw Ghetto during the Second World War.
Visiting the POLIN is like going on a journey through time, dating back to the Middle Ages. You can experience the fascinating history of Poland's Jewish people by way of film and sound, images and objects, and historical documents and maps.
You'll also find a full programme of temporary and traveling exhibitions. These include music and theater programmes, lectures, workshops and special activities for visitors of all ages. It's a museum that consistently finds new ways to inspire the public - perhaps that's why the European Museum Forum declared it European Museum of the Year 2016.