19
Apr
09

On This Day, April 19: Warsaw Ghetto Uprising

April 19, 1943

Warsaw ghetto uprising put down

On this day in 1943, Waffen SS attacks Jewish resistance in the Warsaw ghetto.

Shortly after the German invasion of Poland, in September 1939, nearly 400,000 Polish Jews were confined to a 3.5-square-mile area that normally housed about 250,000. The “ghetto” was sealed off with a 10-foot-high wall. Anyone caught leaving was shot on sight. As if this weren’t bad enough, the Nazis strictly controlled the amount of food that was brought into the ghetto, forcing Jews to live on a bowl of soup a day. By July 1942, about 80,000 Jews had died.

On July 22, 1942, Heinrich Himmler ordered that Jews be “resettled” to extermination camps, such as Treblinka. Two months later, more than 300,000 Jews had been sent to the gas chambers. Less than two years after the internment in the ghetto, only 60,000 Jews remained. But those who survived formed a Jewish Fighting Organization, called ZOB, which managed to smuggle in weapons from anti-Nazi Poles. Armed, they were able to resist further deportations by attacking Germans from rooftops, cellars, and attics. A severe winter and a shortage of trains also prevented the SS from deporting more Jews to death camps.

But spring brought Nazi retaliation. On April 19, 1943, Passover, Himmler sent more than 2,000 Waffen SS soldiers to combat the Jewish resistance. German tanks, howitzers, machine guns, and flamethrowers were met with Jewish pistols, rifles, homemade grenades, and Molotov cocktails. The Jews were able to fend off the German assault for 28 days. Finally, SS General Jurgen Stroop set the entire ghetto block, now reduced to an area 1,000 yards by 300 yards, on fire and blew up the synagogue. By May, 56,065 Jews were dead. It is estimated that the Germans lost 300, with 1,000 wounded.

“Warsaw ghetto uprising put down,” The History Channel website, 2009, http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=6425 [accessed Apr 19, 2009]

On This Day

1539 – Emperor Charles V reached a truce with German Protestants at Frankfurt, Germany.

1587 – English admiral Sir Francis Drake entered Cadiz harbor and sank the Spanish fleet.

1713 – Holy Roman Emperor Charles VI issued the Pragmatic Sanction, which gave women the rights of succession to Hapsburg possessions.

1775 – The American Revolution began as fighting broke out at Lexington, MA.

1861 – U.S. President Lincoln ordered a blockade of Confederate ports.

1927 – In China, Hankow communists declared war on Chaing Kai-shek.

1938 – General Francisco Franco declared victory in the Spanish Civil War.

1967 – Surveyor 3 landed on the moon and began sending photos back to the U.S.

1971 – Russia launched the Salyut into orbit around Earth. It was the first space station.

1975 – India launched its first satellite with aid from the USSR.

1982 – NASA named Sally Ride to be first woman astronaut.

1989 – A gun turret exploded aboard the USS Iowa. 47 sailors were killed.

1993 – The Branch-Davidian’s compound in Waco, TX, burned to the ground. It was the end of a 51-day standoff between the cult and U.S. federal agents. 86 people were killed including 17 children. Nine of the Branch Davidians escaped the fire.

1995 – The Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, OK, was destroyed by a bomb. It was the worst bombing on U.S. territory. 168 people were killed including 19 children, and 500 were injured. Timothy McVeigh was found guilty of the bombing on June 2, 1997.

April 19, 1861

Baltimore Riots

Residents of Baltimore, Maryland, attack a Union regiment while the group makes its way to Washington, D.C.

Baltimore’s hostilities to the North were already well known, as just two percent of the city’s voters cast their ballots for Abraham Lincoln while nearly half supported John Breckinridge, the Southern Democratic Party candidate. Lincoln was to pass through Baltimore on his way to Washington for his inauguration, but death threats forced the president-elect to slip through the city in the middle of the night in disguise.

Baltimore was a cauldron of secessionist feeling, and these tensions boiled over on April 18. Pro-Confederate volunteers gathered at Bolton Station to hurl insults and rocks at Pennsylvania troops as they changed trains en route to Washington. Now, on April 19, the 6th Massachusetts regiment disembarked from a train and was met with an even more hostile crowd. Tensions rose as the 11 companies of the 6th arrived. Cobblestones rained down on the soldiers as they prepared to transfer from the President Street Station to Camden Station. Shots were fired, and when the smoke cleared four Massachusetts soldiers lay dead along with 12 Baltimoreans, while 36 troops and an undetermined number of civilians were wounded.

Washington was effectively cut off from the North. In the following months, Lincoln suspended the writ of habeas corpus and hundreds of secessionist leaders were rounded up. Within six months, the Union was again in control of Baltimore.

“Baltimore Riots,” The History Channel website, 2009, http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=2177 [accessed Apr 19, 2009]

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