The Warsaw Ghetto: A case study

Map of Europe highlighting Poland and Warsaw.

Warsaw, the capital Poland, sits astride the Vistula River in the centre of the country. On the eve of World War II, the city was residence to 1.3 million inhabitants. At 375,000, Warsaw’s Jewish population constituted almost 30 per-cent of the total population. As the largest Jewish community in Europe, second in the world to New York, Warsaw was a major centre of Jewish culture and religious importance.

As the German army invaded Poland, Warsaw was subject to heavy air and ground bombardments. Within a few days the Polish government fled, first to France and then to London. On 28 September 1939, Poland surrendered to the Germans. The next day German troops entered Warsaw.

Over the next year the Nazis developed a ghetto that would be a means by which they would seek to destroy the largest Jewish community in Europe.

This section of The Holocaust Explained will help you learn about the main events during the life of the Warsaw ghetto.