Remembering the Warsaw Ghetto

On April 19, 2018, thousands of people gathered in central Warsaw to mark the 75th anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, which began on April 19, 1943.  The commemorations occurred in two distinct forms, the first time two parallel commemorations have occurred.  One set of ceremonies was orchestrated by the right-wing PiS government at the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising monument next to the POLIN museum.  These ceremonies were for VIPs only, off limits to the general public, and under tight security and heavy television coverage.  The Polish President, Andrzej Duda, used the opportunity to repeat the new, state-sanctioned propaganda according to which Poles were victims and heroes––the same propaganda behind Poland's new law criminalizing speech about the Holocaust.  Meanwhile, a broad spectrum of progressive groups designed ceremonies for those excluded from the official ones.  Thousands of non-invited people walked a route along Zamenhofa Street, one of the key battle zones during the Ghetto Uprising, stopping at the burial mound corresponding to the prewar Miła Street no. 18, where the Jewish fighting organization had its headquarters and where many died, to the main deportation site to Treblinka, known as the Umschlagplatz.  I photographed mostly the latter ceremonies.  The penultimate photograph in this collection shows something of the pomp and circumstance of the official ceremony, and the final photograph shows the event that culminated the day––an art piece designed by Gabi von Seltmann, in which the image of the destroyed Great Synagogue of Warsaw was projected for two hours onto the glass-fronted financial tower that now stands in its place.

Warsaw, 20 April 2018