The death of Anielewicz and the Jewish Combat Organization (ŻOB)

After three days of fighting, the insurgents in the Warsaw Ghetto withdrew from their positions and continued guerrilla warfare on the basis of pre-prepared bunkers.

Wide rekonstrukcja bunkier anielewicza mi a 18
Reconstruction of the bunker at 18 Miła Street

After three days of fighting, the insurgents in the Warsaw Ghetto withdrew from their positions and continued guerrilla warfare on the basis of pre-prepared bunkers. For the next few days, German soldiers set on fire building after building, cutting off hiding in them civilians and fighters from the access to the air and the way out.

The bunker which was the headquarters of the Jewish Combat Organization (ŻOB) was located at 18 Miła Street. It was built and excellently equipped by the Warsaw’s underworld smugglers. It had a kitchen and a well. There was also a water supply network and electricity. The commanders of ŻOB discovered the bunker by accident and with the consent of the hosts, successively brought there their fighters. Eventually, there were about 300 of them. With such big amount of the residents, the bunker became unbearably hot and there was not enough air. 

On 8th May, 1943, the Germans discovered the bunker of ŻOB. The Germans forced hiding Jews out, promising that those who surrender would be sent to labour camps. The rest, however, would be shot dead immediately. Mainly the civilians obeyed. 120 fighters decided to stay in the bunker.

Translation of the excerpt from a Polish edition of “Zagłada i powstanie” (Bime kilEayon u-mered), Warsaw 1999, pp. 131–132

Only a few of the remaining in the bunker fighters managed to find each other and despite the gas poisoning, ran away through the only exit (of six) that was not surrounded by the Germans. Those who did not die in a short time due to injuries, escaped through the sewers to the „Aryan” side. Among those killed in the bunker was also the commander of the Jewish Fighting Organization, Mordechaj Anielewicz.

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