DEATH OF MORDECHAJ ANIELEWICZ — LEADER OF WARSAW GHETTO UPRISING
Author: Cezary Gmyz
Collaboration: Henry Sapphire
Mordechaj Anielewicz and his companions died as a result of betrayal – say the witnesses, reached by “WPROST” journalist. I have no doubt that we have been betrayed by the Jews – says Masha Glajtman Putermilch, one of two survived residents of the bunker at 18 Mila Street, where Headquarters of the Jewish Fighting Organization was located. This information is confirmed by the other survivor Helena Rufeisen-Schuepper. According to analysis of Juergen Stroop Report, on May 8, 1943, after almost a month of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, Germans discovered the bunker at 18 Mila Street. Civilian population had been exterminated in the camp at Treblinka, and members of the Jewish Fighting Organization command on the spot committed collective suicide. Several people who survived the attack of Germans, were killed later in different circumstances.
Although in public awareness the bunker at Mila Street functioned as a JFO Headquarters, in fact, fighters were there only lodgers. Members of the “party”, as it was commonly called the Jewish Fighting Organization in the ghetto, were not thinking about staying alive, so they did not build special hiding places like those massively constructed in the ghetto after the great deportation action.
Bunker at 18 Mila Street was the headquarters of the Jewish gang. It served not only its members but also their families. The shelter was well equipped. There was even electricity. The head of a gang Samuel Iser has agreed to invite JFO Command and its fighters to his bunker – says Helena Rufeisen-Schuepper. The bunker was well camouflaged. The Jewish thieves, who built it, chose the place well. The house at 18 Mila Street, owned before the war to Leo Gibański, was bombed in September 1939. So, no-one suspected that beneath the ruins there was secretly built well equipped shelter, and which at its peak housed the hundreds of people. Fighters have shown a rather black sense of humor, giving the rooms a massacre of Jewish place names: Poniatowa, Trawniki, Treblinka, Ghetto. The latter was yet another name. – The best room was a “concrete”, which held a command conference – says Rufeisen-Schuepper.
The organization of life in the bunker was subordinated to one goal i.e. survival. Bunker had exits, but most people knew only one, which was constantly guarded. Cooked in the night to avoid smells from the kitchen brought Germans. Juergen Stroop, the commander of German forces, even after the war, awaiting trial in Poland, he was impressed with the system of shelters. “The Jews have managed to build a secret system of bunkers, fortifications, residential basements, passageways, corridors, etc.” – Casimir Moczarski described conversation written down later in the book “Conversations with the executioner.” The Germans had enormous difficulties in finding such sites. “We’ve found it after the initial observation of the site at night and using police dogs, as well as cameras, acoustic sensors. During the day, the probe could not prove anything because of the noise, at night, however, detect sounds of conversations and electrical motors. In the safe bunker only some food, producing a faint odor, could be heated “- told Juergen Stroop to Moczarski. Residents, however, figured in the methodology used by the Germans and bunkers order was made absolute silence, and sometimes non-heating food.
The order of absolute silence meant that it was becoming increasingly difficult to detect the next hiding place by Germans. So, they decided to use Jews themselves to look for shelters. “We were looking for bunkers in the dark, like drunken kids in the mist, and beyond generalities actually did not know anything about the ghetto underground organization. I found traitors and informers during the fighting in the ghetto” – recalled Stroop. I promised them life. “Informers received a special pass, so they could move everywhere. One of them was looking with us for two days. At the end he found unnoticed by the people bunker. We got it after a short battle the crew. It certainly was not a staff bunker. Next, we killed betrayer,” Stroop reported after the war.
Much valuable information can be found in the current reports Stroop prepared for Berlin during uprising. Germans learned that uprising is guided by well-organized command. Its trace was encountered on May 4, 1943. “It is clear from the testimony of the Jews, that today we captured members of party leadership. One member of the gang headquarters tomorrow will be used to eliminate further fortified bunkers with armed crew – Stroop reported to superiors. But there is no word about the party bunker in the next report. Another mention occurs
on May 6, 1943. “So far, no evidence of certainty whether the so-called. the party leadership of the Jews (ČPPRÇ) was identified or destroyed. On the trail of bandits encountered. It is hoped that during tomorrow’s action we will eliminate the party leadership” – as stated in teletape of May 6. A day later Stroop reported triumphantly that “the position of the so-called party bosses bunker.is already known. It is to be opened tomorrow by force.”
Comparison of Stroop relations with the story of Helena-Schuepper Rufeisen allows explicitly state that the location of the bunker was discovered by the betrayal. On May 7 Anielewicz called on Helena Rufeisen-Schuepper and ordered her to find a new hiding place. He feared betrayal. – Shared his concern, especially since the previous night, we heard voices coming from the outside in Yiddish: “Go first, I think it’s here.” It could be a Jewish traitor who showed the way to Germans- says Rufeisen-Schuepper, who literally left the bunker at the last minute.
Destroying of 18 Mila Street site
The next day at 10:00 A.M. Germans surrounded all five entrances to the bunker. “As the result the bunker of the party leadership was opened and we captured about 60 heavily armed bandits. We also recognized and eliminated the deputy director of the Jewish military organization ČZWZÇ. In the bunker there were about 200 Jews. 60 of them were arrested, and 140 by the action of smoke candles and explosives placed in several locations have been killed” – Stroop wrote on May 8 to Berlin.
While in conversation with Moczarski, Stroop argued that Germans entered the bunker and found dead bodies of fighters who have committed suicide, the other relations do not support that. Germans probably feared that the bunker is mined and restricted to the use of explosives. They did not know that there was an additional way to escape from the bunker, allowing a few people survive. We know the complex relation by Tosi Altman reported to Helen Rufeisen-Schuepper. – People panicked and pushed to leave. There were five exits, but they used only one. Arie Wilner shouted that all should commit suicsde. And indeed, people began to shoot to each other. Lutek gave poison to his mother and then shot her. After a few seconds shot himself. Anielewicz opposed to suicide, but nobody listened. I asked several times later how Anielewicz died, but nobody knew. Five or six people survived who died later in different circumstances — said Rufeisen-Scuepper.
For many years, there is photographic documentation of the extermination of the ghetto, known as the “Stroop Album” To this day, however, could not (with few exceptions) determine which areas and who present the photos. Both JFO veterans WPROST journalist was interviewing couldn’t recognize them.” However, you can venture to say that some of the photos show destruction of the bunker at 18 Mila Stroop attached to the shares because of great importance in dealing with both 1943 and submitted to the war. Most important developments had to photograph. A series of photographs entitled personally by the Stroop “just pulled out of the bunker,” “Bandits,” “Bandits liquidated in the fight” and “Bunker is open” ends with picture of two men signed with Germany as “Juedische Verrter – Jewish traitors. Until now interpreted that this picture presents the insurgents. Stroop, both in his report, as well as in relationships, written by Moczarski, the word “traitor” is used but only in relation to informers, who seemed bunkers. It can therefore be assumed that this image depicts people who have contributed to causing the death of the JFO command bunker at 18 Mila Sreeet.