The ‘Gross Aktion’ begins in the Warsaw Ghetto

The first people to be selected for ‘deportation’ were the homeless and destitute – many of these had been brought into the ghetto area from towns and villages outside Warsaw.

Numerous workshops and factories had been established in the ghetto – supplying goods for the German army. The workers were promised that they were not be deported – a lie that the Nazis maintained for as long as possible.

A new round of deportations from the Warsaw Ghetto had now begun. The first train left on 22nd July.

By now there were few illusions – almost everyone in the Warsaw ghetto accepted that the “Deportation” of people for “Resettlement” meant that those chosen were going to be killed. But still the Nazis managed to maintain the fiction that there was hope for some. It was announced that:

“All Jews qualified for labour are exempt from deportation and may remain in the ghetto; those Jews who were not heretofore included in the labour force may henceforth be included. They will be taken to barracks where they will work.”

Amongst the thousands who were not registered for work was Chaim Kaplan, now suddenly threatened. Somehow he managed to keep writing his diary of life in the ghetto:

23 July 1942

The ghetto residents found some consolation in the paragraph which speaks of ‘all Jews qualified for labour’. Labour – that can mean both physical and mental; no age limit is specified. That means even men who are over sixty.

Everyone suddenly became eager for work. Everyone is prepared to give up hot meals and a comfortable bed at home to go and live in barracks, if only to stay put. To be deported means to prepare for death, and it is a lingering death which is the hardest kind of all.

The deportees are, to begin with, taken for killing. They are not qualified for work. And as to food, even if a crust of bread were available, would the Nazis give it to them? It has become known that the Nazis flay their corpses, remove the fat, and incinerate the bodies.

This accords with a prestated plan: The strength of the healthy and productive is to be exploited for the needs of the German army; the weak, the crippled, and the aged are to go to eternal rest.

Such a plan could have been invented only by Satan.

This is no more than a curiosity of history. The Jews aid the Nazi victory so that the Nazis can expel them from Europe and destroy them. Their cynicism is such that the Nazis say this bluntly. Sometimes a labourers work pleases them; then they praise him and say, ‘May you be recompensed by being the last one to be shot.’

The industriousness of the ghetto is a credit to everyone. It produces three times what was demanded. This is skilled and industrious work which produces goods for the use and enjoyment of the Nazis. The Jewish worker is compensated by having his relatives deported to a valley of death and destruction, while he is left locked within the walls of the ghetto.

The expulsion has already begun. It is being carried out by the Jewish people under German supervision. On the first day the Jewish police furnished the requisite number of 6,000 people; the second day of the expulsion, the police could round up only 4,700 men, women, and children. The Nazis filled in the deficit.

We remember the words of the elegist: ‘On this night my sons will weep.’ In these two days the emptiness of the ghetto has been filled with cries and wails. If they found no way to the God of Israel it is a sign He doesn’t exist.

See The Scroll of Agony: The Warsaw Diary of Chaim A. Kaplan.

A new death ‘camp’ had opened at Treblinka on 22nd July – the final destination for most of the Jews in Warsaw from this time on. This was the last of four extermination centres set up by the Nazis under what became known as ‘Operation Reinhard’, Chelmno, Belzec and Sobibor were already operating. The objective was to kill all the Jews in what remained of Poland by the end of 1942.

These were not concentration camps where people might exist as slave labourers. The victims, the vast majority of them Jews, were brought here by the trainload and then immediately gassed. The only prisoners who survived for a short time in these camps were the small number selected to assist in the killing process – removing the bodies from the gas chambers and burying them. Later the process of burning the bodies was introduced, including those previously buried.

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