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Warsaw Garden

Poland – and particularly Warsaw – holds within its history all the crucial passages, contradictions, the Good and the Evil of the history of Europe in the 20th century. This explains why Warsaw has been chosen as the site of the first “Virtual Garden of the Righteous of Europe”, in which to remember the tragedies of the Polish people and of Poland’s largest ethnic minority, the Jews; and together to commemorate the most significant figures of moral and concrete resistance to the annihilation of its multiple identities. Poland was the first country to be invaded by the Germans in the west on 1 September 1939, and just two months later, by the Soviets in the east, according to the secret agreements of the Ribbentrop-Molotov pact. The invasion led to the outbreak of the Second World War. Hitler chose Poland as the site for the most devastating organized centre for the extermination of the Jews, the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp complex, complete with gas chambers and crematoriums. This was the “dead end”, the point of no return for the convoys of deportees. In Warsaw the Nazis built their largest prison ghetto into which they herded almost 400,000 Jews, shutting them off from the rest of the city. Most of these Jews failed to survive the hardships, hunger and cold of life in the ghetto or were deported from there to the death camps. At the beginning of 1943 the ghetto’s surviving Jewish community of just under 60,000 people staged an armed revolt. They chose to die fighting the Nazis rather than to continue suffering the humiliation of persecution. Between April and May fierce armed clashes between German troops and the insurgents reduced the ghetto to a pile of rubble, becoming an example to be emulated for the Jews interned in Poland’s other ghettos. One year later, in August 1944, the population of Warsaw rose up against the Nazi occupation and the city was razed to the ground by the overpowering German forces. By October the insurgents were forced to surrender. It wasn’t until January 1945 that the troops of the Red Army, camped just outside the city, entered the capital, having watched the popular uprising from a short distance without lifting a finger to help the Polish rebels. After the war the country became a hostage of the Russians. In fact, the Soviet Union installed a Communist regime that was to remain in power until 1989, encompassing Poland in its own sphere of influence with the creation of the Iron Curtain. The Solidarnosc movement, which took hold in the Seventies in the large factories of the North and developed impetuously in the following decade with mass strikes in Danzig, led by the trade unionist Lech Walesa, finally toppled the regime and paved the way for the collapse of the Berlin Wall. With the end of Communism, the doors of the secrets archives were flung open and Poland embarked on a lengthy and concerted effort to clarify its recent past and to preserve its collective memory, with the capital Warsaw in the front line.

Righteous in the Garden

The Warsaw ghetto

The Warsaw ghetto

Some original, black and white pictures of the Warsaw Ghetto (taken from the Website and of the monument built in 1988 in memory of the 300,000 Jews deported from the Ghetto into the Treblinka extermination camp

  • Katyn

    History of the Polish officers murdered in Katyn by NKDV during the Second War World and of their families who were ...

Original documents reproduced for reference.
Autograph sources, diaries, dedications, pictures, title pages, period articles, messages, phonograms, governmental, military and administrative clearances and orders, other archival exhibits.

Wefor is our Website dedicated to the figures of moral resistance against totalitarianism. The virtual Gardens of Europe’s Righteous and the teaching section YouFor are the core of this project realized by Gariwo, the forest of the Righteous. Through the establishment of the European Day of the Righteous by the Brussels Parliament, Wefor has received its highest recognition.