Sunday, December 23, 2018

Simcha Rotem RIP

The last surviving resistance fighter of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising of 1943 died yesterday at the age of 94.

Simcha Rotem, also known as Kazik, was one of the Jewish partisans who rose up against the Nazis when they began mass deportations from the Polish capital.

Armed only with small arms and improvised weapons about a thousand Jewish fighters made a heroic defence of the Warsaw Ghetto against a well-armed force of Nazi soldiers, including crack Waffen SS troops, which outnumbered them two to one.

When the Germans moved with overwhelming force to crush the Warsaw Ghetto in April 1943 on the eve of Passover they expected to ship the entire remaining population to death camps within three days. Because of the heroic resistance of men and women like Simcha Rotem the Germans were unable to take the Ghetto without largely burning the entire area to the ground, and it took them five weeks and cost them more than a hundred casualties. The resistance of the Warsaw Ghetto was also a powerful symbol or resistance to Nazi tyranny and inspired many others to resist or revolt against them.

Thousands of Jewish fighters and civilians died in the uprising or where taken as prisoners to death camps where most of them were murdered, but Rotem helped scores of fighters escape through the drainage system. He then returned to take part in - and survive - the 1944 Warsaw Uprising led by Polish resistance fighters.

Rotem died in Jerusalem on Saturday.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said: "His story will be with our people forever."

President Reuven Rivlin said: "Thank you for everything, Kazik. We promise to try every day to be deserving of the description 'human'."

Rest in Peace.

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