The Warsaw Uprising began 66 years ago, on August 1, 1944. The heroic combat lasted for 63 days. At five o’clock on the afternoon of the anniversary of these events—W-Hour, the start of the Uprising—Museum Director Dr. Piotr M.A. Cywiński, a Warsaw native, and Piotr Kadlčik, chairman of the Union of Jewish religious communities in Poland, observed a minute of silence in tribute to the heroes and victims of the Uprising, including Warsaw residents deported to Auschwitz from the transit camp in Pruszków. While the sirens sounded, they placed a wreath at the Death Wall outside block 11.
As part of their reprisal campaign, the Germans deported about 13,000 Warsaw residents to Auschwitz, including infants, children, and the elderly. They imprisoned them in Auschwitz II-Birkenau. About 300 women, men, and children from Warsaw were still in Auschwitz at liberation.
During the Uprising and after, the Germans deported about 550,000 people from Warsaw and another 100,000 from the city’s suburbs. They sent them to a specially established transit camp, Durchgangslager 121 (Dulag 121) in Pruszków, outside the city. The security police and SS segregated these civilians to determine their fate, deporting 55,000 to concentration camps.
Transports of Poles from Warsaw to Auschwitz after the start of the Uprising
Almost 13,000 men, women, and children from Warsaw were arrested after the start of the armed Uprising and sent through the transit camp in Pruszków to Auschwitz in August and September 1944. They were imprisoned in Auschwitz II-Birkenau.
The deportees came from various social and occupational groups (they included government officials, scientists, artists, doctors, merchants, and blue-collar workers) and also varied as to their physical condition (the wounded, the sick, the disabled, and pregnant women) and age (from infants born a few weeks earlier to people over 86). A few of them were of non-Polish ethnicity, including some Jews who had been in hiding “on Aryan papers.”
The most numerous transports arrived in Auschwitz on August 12 and 13, carrying a total of almost 6,000 people (about 4,000 females and 2,000 males, including more than a thousand children and minors of both sexes).
Another transport of 3,087 women, men, and children was sent from Pruszków to Auschwitz on September 4. Almost 4,000 men and boys, along with three women, traveled on the next two transports, on September 13 and 17. Once the preliminary evacuation of Auschwitz began, the majority of them were transferred to camps in the depths of the Reich a few weeks or months later and employed in the armaments industry. Many died at the camps in Germany.
At least 602 women with children, including some born in Auschwitz, were sent to camps in Berlin in January 1945. Some of the prisoners from the Warsaw transports were evacuated from Auschwitz in January 1945. Some died during the “death marches” and others were liberated at camps in the depths of the Reich. At least 298 men, women, and children from Warsaw were liberated in Auschwitz.
A Memorial Book: Transports of Poles from Warsaw to Auschwitz 1940-1944, published by the Museum in 2000, is dedicated to the memory of the Poles deported to Auschwitz from the “Warsaw District.” It includes the names of Warsaw residents known by historians to have been sent to Auschwitz after the start of the Uprising.
Memoirs of a child of the Uprising
In April 2007, the Museum also published a new, enlarged version of a collection of narratives about children in Auschwitz, titled Children in Stripes. This is some of the most moving documentary material about the tragic fate of Auschwitz prisoners and a powerful image of the camp as seen through the eyes of a child. The book had gone through many previous editions. It author, Bogdan Bartnikowski, fought as a courier in the Warsaw district of Ochota at the age of twelve. He and his mother were transported to Auschwitz on August 12, 1944.