Warsaw, Polands capital city, sits on the Vistula, a river that runs the length of the country.
Warsaw Before World War II it was seen as one of the most beautiful cities in Europe. Its rich one thousand year history was reflected in the variety of architectural styles of the buildings that lined its wide sweeping boulevards. In 1939 Jews made up 30% of its 1.3 million population. By the end of the war the city had lost almost a million of its inhabitants.
Warsaws was the largest of the many Jewish Ghettos that the Nazis established across Europe. The perimeter wall was completed and sealed off from the rest of the city in November 1940. Almost half a million Jews were forced to live in its 3.5 square miles, leading to inevitable suffering that resulted in many deaths through starvation and disease. In 1942 the Germans started the transportations that would see practically all of the ghettos residents perish in the death camp at Treblinka. The Germans charged Warsaws Jewish Community for the ghettos construction costs and its walls were built by forced work parties of Jews.
A B C D E F G H Tragutta Park and the football stadium The Great Synagogue (Jewish Historical Institute - where the Ringleblum Archive is kept.) Pilsudski Square Sztuka Café – which was on 2 Leszno Street The Korczak Orphanage on Krochmalna Street – the site of the original orphanage. The Jewish Cemetery The Warsaw Zoo The location in the ghetto, on Chlodna Street, where Korczaks orphanage relocated to. Points of interest on the map
A Traugutta Park and the football stadium X The park still contains the stadium where the football match that is featured in STARS took place. This game is known as the last game as it took place four days before the Germany invasion.
B The Warsaw Zoo In pre-war Warsaw the zoo was one the largest in Europe and the citys most popular visitor attraction. Although it was almost completely destroyed during the war, it was rebuilt and is now even more popular. X
C Sztuka Café – which was on 2 Leszno Street X The Sztuka (Arts) Café was a popular meeting place. Despite the ever worsening conditions inside the ghetto many cultural events took place. The café was one of the venues where many of Warsaws most talented musicians, such as Wladyslaw Szpilman, performed.
D The Great Synagogue (Jewish Historical Institute - where the Ringleblum Archive is kept.) X The Great Synagogues large green dome dominated the Warsaw skyline. It was a spectacularly ornate building which could accommodate almost 2500 people. During the war the Germans used it to store furniture stolen from the citys Jewish inhabitants. Its destruction, in May 1943 was seen by the Nazis to symbolise their final triumph over Warsaws Jews. The neighbouring building survived and is now home to the Emanuel Ringleblum Jewish Historical Institute. When an office block was built on the site in 1993 the architects designed a glass dome in memory of the building that once stood there.
E Pilsudski Square X Pilsudski Square is Warsaws traditional venue for large military displays. After Hitler used it for his Victory Parade in September 1939 it was temporarily renamed Adolf Hitler Platz.
F The Korczak Orphanage on Krochmalna Street (now Jaktorowska Street) the site of the original orphanage. Janusz Korczak helped to design the building that housed his Jewish orphanage. It thrived there from 1912 to 1940 when it was forced to move within the ghetto walls. X
G The location in the ghetto, on Chlodna Street, where Korczaks orphanage relocated to. X In 1940 Korczak was forced to relocate his orphanage to 33 Chlodna Street. There are no surviving images of the building but it was located very close to the wooden footbridge that was built to connect the small and large sections of the ghetto in January 1942.
H The Jewish Cemetery X The Jewish Cemetery on Okopowa Street opened in 1806 and has over 200,000 marked graves. 135 years later, as ghetto conditions deteriorated, it became increasingly difficult to bury the dead individually and thousands of bodies were buried anonymously together. There is a memorial to Janusz Korczak and the vast number of child victims. Simon Tenenbaum (Marcus father in STARS) is buried there; I was honoured to be able to pay my respects at his graveside.
I Monument to Janusz Korczak In 2003 this monument to Janusz Korczak was created, on the site of the third and final place the orphanage moved to. In July 1942 Korczak and the children in his care, perished at Treblinka. X