World War II was a dreadful time to be in Poland. If you’re looking to sensitise school children to some of the miseries of the time, yet do not wish to subject them to any graphic visuals or experiences, this tour of the erstwhile Warsaw Ghetto will be a perfect start. Join our host as he takes you around the area of the Ghetto and brings in facts from the pages of history to enamor this intriguing tour.
The Warsaw Ghetto was one of the largest ghettos in occupied Europe. At a size of just 3 sq.km, it once housed nearly 450,000 Polish Jews. When the Nazis arrived in October 1939, they immediately took to persecuting the Jews. The propagated that Jewish people were dangerous, had all sorts of infectious diseases and should be isolated together behind a tall wall. The Jews, on the other hand, were misconstrued to believe that the remaining 70% of the Polish population could join hands with the Germans and attack them. So, they would be safe if they all stayed together in isolation. Little did they know what they were in for. The cramped Ghetto had poor light, sanitation, hygiene and hardly any space or food to feed the many mouths there. Although many lives were lost here, as well as at the Treblinka camp, our presenter weaves in stories of heroism that eventually led to the breakdown of the wall, the closure of the Ghetto and the first uprising of the Jews against the Nazis.
The tour takes you along Stare Nalewski – the Old Street – a 1km stretch that was once filled with nearly 700 Jewish businesses including bars, restaurants and workshops and even homes. The only thing that remains at the first stretch of this street are the cobblestone paths and a yellow building that was the former arsenal. As we walk along, we pass by a gate that would lead to the Ghetto. And further up, a stone line along the pavement that stands where the Ghetto Wall once stood.
The Monument of Jewish Ghetto heroes will certainly encourage you and make you feel proud of the fact that despite everything they faced, the Jews were able to put up a fight, not for independence, but simply to die with dignity, fighting.
School children will embrace this session with renewed humility as we take a walk through history and be inspired by some of Warsaw’s Ghetto heroes.