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by Margo Gutstein

Source: SWC Archives #91-507
Alinka was the daughter of Lilka Cukierman. Her grandfather was highly involved in the community. The family lived in an affluent area. Alinka loved to play with her dolls and stuffed animals. Part of a large, loving, highly-educated family, Alinka had a comfortable early childhood.

Alinka was five years old when the Germans occupied Warsaw in September 1939. In October 1940, Alinka and her family, along with all the other Jewish residents of Warsaw, were forced to leave their home and live in the Ghetto. Nothing is known about Alinka or her family after they were forced into the Ghetto and cut off from the world. No trace has ever been found.

Source: SWC Archives #88-288


"The last wish of my life has been fulfilled. Jewish selfdefense has become a fact. Jewish resistance and revenge have become actualities. I am happy to have been one of the first Jewish fighters in the Ghetto."

A native of Warsaw, Mordecai Anielewicz was a leader of the Zionist ha-Shomer ha-Tsa'ir movement. By January 1940, he was a full-time underground activist. After June 1941, when word began to spread about the mass killings being carried out by the Nazis, Anielewicz concentrated on the creation of a self-defense organization in the Ghetto. After the mass deportations of 1942, Anielewicz took over and reorganized the ZOB (Jewish Fighting Organization), and in November 1942 he was appointed the commander.

During the first days of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, Anielewicz, twenty-three years old, was in command. When the street fighting ended, he and his staff and a large force of fighters retreated to a bunker at 18 Mila Street. The bunker fell on May 8, 1943, and Anielewicz was killed.

Source: Yad Vashem Archives
July 19, 1942 - "Incredible panic in the city .... I do not know whetber I managed to calm the population, but I did my best. I try to hearten the delegations which come to see me. What it costs me they do not see."
Adam Czerniakow, an engineer by profession, served in various positions in Jewish communal and Polish political life prior to World War II. On October 4, 1939, he was appointed by the Nazis as Chairman of the judenrat (the Jewish Council established by the Nazis). When the Warsaw Ghetto was established one year later (October 1940) Czerniakow and the Judenrat became responsible for the daily organization and structure of the Jewish community. This included food, work, health, housing, sanitation, education and relief efforts. Although he had some early opportunities to escape, Czerniakow refused to abandon what he considered his responsibility to his community. He attempted to convince the Nazis to ease the situation in the Ghetto, and to limit their direct intervention, while trying to keep the Jewish community organized and functioning. While he was criticized by some in the underground as being aloof and uninvolved with the fate of the community, the prevailing opinion saw Czerniakow as a man of great personal decency and good intentions.

Adam Czerniakow committed suicide on July 23, 1942 when he was pressured to hand over Jewish children to be deported to their deaths. It is reported that he left a note: "They are demanding that I kill the children of my people with my own hands. There is nothing for me to do but die."

Source: Yad Vashem Archives
"God is trying to blow out the candle and I'm quickly trying to shield tbe flame, taking advantage of His brief inattention. To keep the flame flickering, even if only for a little while longer than He would wish."
Marek Edelman was a member of the Bund (Jewish Socialist) youth movement at the outbreak of the war. In November 1942, he joined the ZOB (Jewish Fighting Organization) and became the Bund's representative in the ZOB Command.

At the time of the revolt, Edelman was in charge of one of the Ghetto areas, and was one of the last fighters in the ZOB headquarters at 18 Mila Street. Escaping through the sewers, he reached the "Aryan" side of Warsaw. There he took part in the Polish revolt of 1944.

After the war Edelman remained in Poland, becoming a renowned cardiologist. In the 1980s he was active in the Solidarity movement and has become, for many in Poland, a living symbol of the fight for both Jewish survival and human rights.

Source: SWC Archives #91-390

Sorela was the daughter of Basia and Leon Goldsobel. Mr. Goldsobel worked as a business representative.

Sorela was almost five years old when the Germans occupied Warsaw in September 1939. In October 1940, Sorela, her older sister Liliana and her parents, along with all the other Jewish residents of the city, were forced to leave their home and live in the Ghetto. In July 1942, the Germans began rounding up and deporting Ghetto residents in massive raids. Sorela and her parents were caught in a raid in September 1942. They were sent to Treblinka and murdered in the gas chambers. Sorela had not yet turned eight.

Source: Kidush Hashem: Ketavim Mi-yeme ha-Shoah. (Tel Aviv, Israel: "Zakhor," 1969), frontispiece.
(Simon Huberband), 1909-1942
"Recently, the high price of paper and of waste has led many people, under the duress of poverty, to take their holy books out onto the streets and sell them as paper... For this reason, one sees lately many paper bags made out of paper from Bibles, Talmuds, and other holy books. No holy books are printed anymore... Only tiny, flawed Hebrew calendars were secretly printed for the current year, 5702 (1941-42)."
Shimon Huberband was born into a rabbinic family and ordained by his grandfather. A versatile scholar, he published widely on theological and historical topics. At the outbreak of the war, he and his family left their home in Piotrkow to seek safety in outlying areas; however, his wife and child were killed when German planes demolished the town of Sulejow, where they had taken refuge. In early 1940, Huberband went to Warsaw, where he remarried.

In Warsaw, Huberband worked for the Jewish Social Self-Help Organization, and was director of the organization's religious section. He became Emanuel Ringelblum's most valued collaborator in the Oneg Shabbat archive. His unique work in Yiddish, later published in Hebrew and English under the title Kiddush Hashem, carefully documents the response of religious Jews of Poland and especially Warsaw to the Holocaust. On August 18, 1942, Huberband and his wife were deported to Treblinka, where they perished.


October 26, 1939 - 'In our scroll of agony, not one small detail can be omitted. Even though we are now undergoing terrible tribulations and the sun has grown dark for us at noon, we have not lost our hope that the era of light will surely come ... Therefore, every entry is more precious than gold so long as it is written down as it happens, without exaggerations and distortions."
Chaim Kaplan was born in Belorussia. Around 1900, he settled in Warsaw, where he wrote prolifically on pedagogic subjects and founded a pioneering elementary school, which he ran until World War II. Kaplan started keeping a diary in 1933, written in Hebrew. At first, his diary was personal, but with the outbreak of war on September 1, 1939, Kaplan's diary became concerned with public events as well. His record of the Warsaw Ghetto gives us an invaluable look at the Jews of Warsaw, the Nazis and the Poles during this period. Kaplan not only wrote what he observed, but he also attempted to speculate on causes and effects. He had the diary smuggled out of the ghetto in August 1942, a day or two before he was deported to Treblinka, where he was murdered. His final entry reads: "if my life ends-what will become of my diary?" The diary was discovered in a kerosene can on a farm outside of Warsaw after the war, and was published in English in 1966.

Source: Block, Gay and Malka Drucker. Rescuers: Portraits of Moral Courage in the Holocaust. (New York: Holmes & Meier, 1992), p.
"..never in the history of mankind, never anywhere in the realm of human relations did anything occur to compare with what was inflicted on tbe Jewisb population of Poland..
The images of what I saw in the death camp are, I am afraid, my permanent possessions. I would like nothing better than to purge my mind of these memories."
Jan Karski, a non-Jewish Polish diplomat, joined the Polish underground upon the occupation of Poland in

September 1939, and was a courier for the Polish Government-in-Exile. He lived underground in Warsaw in 1941-1942. In 1942, Karski was sent on a mission to London to transmit a report on the situation in occupied Poland, and in particular on the situation of the Jewish population there. To enable himself to report accurately, he smuggled himself into the Ghetto twice before leaving Warsaw, meeting with leaders of the Jewish underground there. in London, he met with statesmen and public figures, such as Winston Churchill and Anthony Eden, and with journalists and Jewish leaders. Karski then went to the United States to meet with leaders there (including President Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Felix Frankfurter) in a further attempt to arouse public opinion against the massacres being carried out by the Germans. He failed in this task because the leaders whom he met with refused to believe his reports because of prejudice, politics or basic incredulity. After the war, Karski remained in the United States. In 1982 he was awarded the title of "Righteous Among the Nations" by the State of Israel for his attempts to save the Jews of Poland.

Source: SWC Archives #88-287
JANUSZ KORCZAK, 1878 or 9-1942
"If our bodies live forever, they can do so only through our children .... I would only like to be conscious when I die. I want to be able to tell the children 'Good-bye' and wish tbem freedom to choose their own way."
Janusz Korczak, physician, educator and author, was a native of Warsaw. Born Henryk Goldszmit, he became well- known by his pen name of Janusz Korczak. He wrote on a wide variety of educational and philosophical subjects, and also wrote a number of children's books; King Matt the First is one of the best known. Korczak was the director of two orphanages in Warsaw, one Jewish and one non-Jewish. At these orphanages he applied his progressive ideas regarding childrearing, which encouraged respect, independence, selfesteem and love, while rejecting fear and punishment. He was aided in his work by his partner, Stefania Wilczynska.

Due to rising antisemitism in the 1930s, Korczak was forced to resign from the nonJewish orphanage and to cease his popular series of radio broadcasts. After the Germans invaded Poland, he devoted himself to the welfare of his Jewish orphans. Despite conditions in the Ghetto, the orphanage was kept clean, children and teachers kept order, there were literary evenings, and the children even gave performances. Korczak had the opportunity to escape several times, but refused to abandon his charges. On August 5, 1942, Korczak, his staff and some 200 children marched to the Umschlagplatz, where they were all transported to Treblinka and their deaths. An observer (Emanuel Ringelblum) wrote of this march: "This was not a march to the railway cars, this was an organized wordless protest against murder!"

Source: Bet Lohamei ha-Getta'ot
"We worked frantically and with impatience, our hearts filled with prayer. We longed for the hour of revenge, that it might come soon. And behold, the day came!"
Zivia Lubetkin, active in Zionist youth movements before the war, was one of the founders of the ZOB (Jewish Fighting Organization). At the outbreak of World War II, she was in eastern Poland, but she returned to Warsaw to participate in the underground activities there. She was an organizer of the earliest resistance movements in the Ghetto, and also fought in the first attempt at armed resistance in the Ghetto in January 1943, as well as the final revolt of April-May 1943. Several days before the fall of the Ghetto, Lubetkin and a group of surviving fighters escaped to the "Aryan" side of Warsaw through the sewer system. Lubetkin stayed in hiding in the Warsaw underground through the end of the war, and fought in the Polish revolt of 1944. After the war, Lubetkin and her husband, Yitzhak Zuckerman, settled in Palestine, where she was among the founders of Kibbutz Lohamei ha-Getta'ot and Bet Lohamei ha- Getta'ot (Ghetto Fighters Kibbutz and Memorial). Lubetkin appeared as a compelling witness in the trial of Nazi war criminal Adolf Eichmann in Jerusalem in 1961.

Source: Yad Vashem Archives
"I don't know who of the group will survive-wbo will be favored by fortune to work on the collected material. But one thing is clear to us all. our toil and effort, our devotion and constant fear, were not in vain. We dealt the enemy a blow. It matters little whether the revelation of the unbelievable slaughter of Jews will have the necessary effect-whether the further staying of entire Jewish communities will be stopped. One thing we know-we have fulfilled our obligation."
Emanuel Ringelblum was the founder and director of the Oneg Shabbat (Sabbath Delight) archive. A historian by profession, he specialized in the history of the Jews of Warsaw. In the Ghetto, he began by recording events himself, and later recruited a staff of dozens. in addition, Ringelblum worked with the political underground and self-help organizations in the Ghetto, ran a network of soup kitchens, and also managed to keep his own chronicle up to date.

In March 1943, Ringelblum and his family went into hiding outside the Ghetto. In early April, he returned to the Ghetto to participate in the uprising and was captured. in July 1943, he was found in the Trawniki labor camp. The underground rescued him and took him back to Warsaw, where he hid with his family and 30 other Jews in an underground refuge. On March 7, 1944, the hiding place was discovered, and all were arrested. A few days later, all were shot.

Oneg Shabbat reports were smuggled to the West in 1942 and 1943 detailing the deportations from Warsaw. included as well was an eyewitness account of the Chelmno extermination camp. As the destruction of the Ghetto neared, the archives were stored in metal containers and milk jugs and hidden. Two of the three sections of the archive have been recovered; the third is still missing. The importance of the archive lies in its eyewitness accounts and documentation of the life and destruction in the Warsaw Ghetto. It is the most important source we have for the history of Polish Jewry during this period.

Source: Lewin, Isaac, editor. Eleh Ezkerah. (New York: Research Institute of Religious Jewry, 1963), Vol. 5.
(Kalonymus Shapiro or Shapira), 1889-1943
"It is bard to raise one's self up, time and again, from the tribulations, but when one is determined, stretching his mind to connect to the Torah and Divine service, then be enters the Inner Chambers where the Blessed Holy One is to be found, be weeps and waits together with Him, as it were, and even finds the strength to study Torah and serve Him."
Kalunimus Kalmish Shapiro, born into a Hasidic dynasty, became the rabbi of Piaseczno, near Warsaw, in 1913. After World War I, he moved to Warsaw, founding a yeshiva there in 1923. He wrote important works on Jewish education and on the phenomenology of traditional religious practice. During the German occupation his home doubled as synagogue and soup kitchen for his followers in the Ghetto. There Shapiro delivered sermons developing a theology linking human suffering with the Divine. He died in a death camp near Lublin.

Source: Starkopf, after p. 150.
Jasia, the daughter of Adam and Pela (Miller) Starkopf, was born in the Warsaw Ghetto. Her parents were childhood sweethearts. Before the war, her father was the office manager and chief accountant of a leather goods factory. Mr. and Mrs. Starkopf lived with Jasia's grandparents in a spacious Warsaw apartment. After the German invasion, Mr. Starkopf went into business selling toys and novelties. When the Germans occupied Warsaw, they enacted harsh anti- Jewish measures causing great hardship. The Germans looted Mr. Starkopf's store, leaving the family with no regular source of income. In order to survive, the family began selling off their household goods.

Jasia was born on January 14, 1941, delivered by a midwife on the dining room table. She was swaddled in a pillowcase that was tied with a belt. Her grandparents sold what little they still possessed, mostly clothes, just to buy her milk.

By the summer of 1941, starvation was a major problem in the Ghetto. People were collapsing and dying in the street. in order to obtain food for Jasia and her mother, Mr. Starkopf began making trips outside the Ghetto to the non-Jewish area of the city. After a close escape during the first massive roundup of Jews for deportation to death camps, he determined that the only way his family might survive would be to escape from the Ghetto.

Jasia's father was able to obtain false documents for his family, giving them new identities as non- Jews. Unable to trust Jasia, only eighteen months old, to keep quiet while being smuggled out of the Ghetto, Mr. Starkopf gave Jasia medication that put her to sleep. Her parents placed her in a coffin and arranged that she be taken to the Jewish cemetery for burial. Her mother bribed guards so that she could follow the hearse to the cemetery. From there, they slipped into the adjacent Catholic cemetery and the non-Jewish sector of the city.

Jasia and her parents spent the rest of the war posing as Christians in the Polish countryside. They constantly feared discovery. They returned to Warsaw in January 1945, after it was liberated. Jasia was four years old.

Source: Stroop, Jürgen. Es Gibt Keinen Jüdischen Wohnbezirk in Warschau Mehr.(See also: Milton)
JURGEN STROOP, 1895-1951
May 16, 1943 - "180 Jews, bandits, and subhumans were destroyed. Tbe Jewisb quarter of Warsaw is no more!"
Jürgen Stroop, a veteran of World War I, joined the Nazi party and the SS in 1932, rising rapidly through the ranks. By 1939, he was commander of a police unit. In June 1941 Stroop was sent to the eastern front where he was wounded; he was then transferred to police functions in the occupied Soviet territories. On April 17, 1943, he was summoned to Warsaw to assume command of the liquidation of the Ghetto. Stroop crushed the revolt by physically destroying the Ghetto and killing the inhabitants.

Stroop was condemned to death in 1947 by a United States military tribunal for atrocities committed in Greece and the murder of U.S. prisoners of war in Rheinland-Westmark, where he served after the liquidation of the Ghetto. He was then extradited to Poland, where he was sentenced to death and hanged for war crimes committed in the Warsaw Ghetto.

Source: SWC Archives #91-507
Helena was the daughter of Rena and Mark Weissblatt. Helena's father was one of the few Jews permitted to work for the Polish government. Her family lived in an exclusive area of Warsaw. Helena's mother gave private Hebrew lessons, and her grandfather was highly involved in the Jewish community. Part of a large, loving and highly educated family, Helena had a comfortable and secure early childhood.

Helena was an eleven-year-old schoolgirl when the Germans occupied Warsaw in September 1939. In October 1940, Helena and her family, along with all the other Jewish residents of the city, were forced to leave their home and to move into the Ghetto. Nothing is known of the fate of Helena and her family after they were forced into the Ghetto and cut off from the rest of the world.

Source: SWC Archives #91-507
Natus was the son of Rena and Mark Weissblatt. His father was one of the few Jews who was permitted to work for the Polish government. Natus' mother gave private Hebrew lessons, and his grandfather was highly involved in the Jewish community. They lived in an affluent area of Warsaw. Natus was an outstanding student. Part of a large, loving and highly- educated family, Natus had a comfortable, secure early childhood.

Natus was a thirteen-year-old schoolboy when the Germans occupied Warsaw in September 1939. In October 1940, Natus and his family, along with all the other Jewish residents of the city, were forced to leave their home and to live in the Ghetto. Nothing is known of the fate of Natus and his family after they were forced into the Ghetto and cut off from the world.

Zegota was the code name of Rada Pomocy Zydom (Council for Aid to Jews). Established in December 1942, Zegota functioned until the liberation of Poland in January 1945. It was originally organized by Zofia Kossak Szcaucka and other liberal Catholics, but spread to include representatives of the Socialists and other Polish organizations, as well as representatives of two Jewish organizations, the Jewish National Committee, and the Bund (Jewish Socialists).

Zegota provided financial aid and, most importantly, false documents (baptismal, marriage and death certificates, identity and employment cards) to thousands of Jews. it also attempted to find hiding places for Jews as well. Jewish children were put under foster care (2,500 Jewish children in Warsaw alone) and medical care was provided to hidden Jews. All of these activities were carried out under the threat of death if discovered by the Nazis.

In the last few months of the Ghetto about 20,000 Jews left the Ghetto to try to hide on the "Aryan" side. Many of these were assisted by Zegota. Although the majority did not survive, and, indeed, many were turned in by antisemitic or greedy Poles, Zegota was responsible for the saving of a number of Jewish lives (the exact numbers are unknown).

In 1963 Zegota was honored by the State of Israel as "Righteous Among the Nations" for its attempts to aid the Jews of Poland. As the only underground organization dedicated to providing aid to Jews on such a large scale, Zegota provides one of the only positive models to come out of that period.

Source: Lewin, vol. 2.
MENAHEM ZEMBA (Menachem Ziemba), 1883-1943
April 19, 1943 - "On this, the first day of national liberation, rise ye up as the remnant in the Warsaw Ghetto against the adversary for the sanctification of the Divine Name. Do not permit yourselves to be divided from within. Let not brother turn against brother. In the end, united action will bring comprehensive redemption to Israel throughout the world."
Menahem Zemba was born into a poor Hasidic family. Distinguished as a rabbinical scholar even as a young man, Zemba served as the secretary of the Mo'etset Gedole ha-Torah before the war, and in 1935 he agreed to become a member of the Warsaw Rabbinical Council. Zemba's rabbinic works are considered masterpieces, and he conducted extensive correspondence with major Jewish legal experts worldwide. Hundreds of Jews sat for a moment in his sukkah, a hutlike structure with an impermanent roof meant to remind one of God's providence during the Fall holiday of Sukkot (Tabernacles). Zemba wrote a monograph on martyrdom which he completed on the day his wife was murdered in the Ghetto. He dedicated it to her.

Zemba was one of the last rabbis to remain in the Ghetto after the mass deportations of 1942. At a meeting of the leaders on January 14, 1943, he gave rabbinic approval for the Uprising. Refusing two separate opportunities to escape from the Ghetto, Zemba was shot by the Germans a few days after the revolt began.

ZOB (Zydowska Organizacja Bojowa - Jewish Fighting Organization)
In March 1942, discussions began in the Warsaw Ghetto among various Jewish political groups about the possibility of armed resistance to the Nazis. These discussions were spurred by reports that reached the Ghetto regarding activities of the Einsaugruppen (the Nazis' mobile killing units) in late 1941, by the formation of a resistance organization in Vilna, and by an eyewitness account of the Chelmno extermination camp.

While these Jewish groups had initial difficulty coming together because of various political, ideological and personal factors, the deportations of July-September 1942 (when almost 300,000 Jews were deported, 265,000 of whom went directly to the Treblinka extermination camp) solidified the resolve of many for resistance. In October 1942, an organized ZOB emerged.

Contact was made with the Polish underground (Armia Krajowa), the Home Army, and the Polish Communist Peoples Army (Armia Ludowa), but the arms received were negligible, although the Home Army did help to train ZOB members in the use of explosives. ZOB activities began with retaliations against Jewish collaborators, and in January 1943 the first armed resistance began. This resistance limited the Nazi deportation to 10% of the remaining Ghetto population and thus was seen by Jews and Poles as a Nazi defeat. Buoyed by its success, the ZOB spent the next few months in preparation for the final Nazi offensive. Bunkers were built and supplies, such as were available, were stored. The ZOB's active units consisted of approximately 330 fighters, and another 165 in smaller independent units.

The final liquidation of the Ghetto began on Monday, April 19, 1943, the eve of Passover, the Jewish festival of liberation. The Nazis were initially forced to retreat, and finally had to burn the Ghetto, using poison gas and tear gas, to achieve their victory. The Jewish command staff largely either fell in the fighting or died in the ZOB headquarters bunker at 18 Mila Street on May 8. Only a handful survived, including Marek Edelman, Yitzhak Zuckerman, and Zivia Lubetkin.

The ZOB was an organization of young men and women without any military experience. The Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, the first mass urban revolt against the Nazis, succeeded in holding out nearly as long as the French Army did in 1940, and has become the symbol of Jewish resistance and self-determination.

Source: Bet Lohamei ha-Gettaot
(Itzhak Cukierman), 1915-1981
"These were our thoughts; this was our life. Revolt! Everything and everyone was prepared for it. We knew that Israel would continue to live and tbat for the sake of all Jews everywhere and for Jewisb existence and dignity-even for future generations-only one thing would do: Revolt!"
Yitzhak (Antek) Zuckerman was active in Zionist youth organizations before the war. When the Nazis invaded and conquered Poland, he dedicated himself to underground activities in Soviet occupied territory, returning to Nazi occupied territory in April 1940. At first his activities included setting up the underground press and high school, organizing conferences and seminars, and secretly visiting and coordinating underground activities in other towns and with other movements. However, when reports of the Einsatzgruppen reached Warsaw in the fall of 1941, Zuckerman turned to armed resistance, and became a member of the staff of the ZOB (Jewish Fighting Organization) in July 1942.

During the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, Zuckerman was sent out of the Ghetto to the Polish side as the ZOB's liaison with other underground groups. He attempted to supply the Uprising with arms, but received only minimal support. Later, Zuckerman fought in the Polish uprising of 1944.

After the war, Zuckerman and his wife, Zivia Lubetkin, went to Palestine. He was one of the founders of Kibbutz Lohamei ha-Getta'ot and Bet Lohamei ha-Getta'ot (Ghetto Fighters Kibbutz and Memorial). He appeared as a prosecution witness in the Eichmann trial in 1961.

Source: Yad Vashem Archives
SAMUEL ARTUR ZYGELBOJM (Shmuel Zygielbojm or Zygielbaum), 1895-1943
June 2, 1942 - "It will be a disgrace to go on living, to belong to the human race, unless immediate steps are taken to put a stop to this crime, the greatest that history has known."
Samuel Zygelbojm, Polish Bundist (Jewish Socialist) leader, was, after a career of union activism, one of the twelve public figures the Germans took as hostages when they occupied Warsaw. After his release he represented the Bund on the first Warsaw Judenrat (Jewish Council established by the Nazis). In December 1939, in danger of being arrested, Zygelbojm was sent out of the country by the Bund to report on conditions in German-occupied Poland. He went first to Belgium in 1940, then to the United States in 1940-1942, and finally to Great Britain, where he was the Bund representative on the Polish National Council from 1942-1943. Zygelbojm attempted to alert authorities to take rescue and retaliatory action on behalf of Polish Jewry. For example, in a BBC broadcast in December 1942, Zygelbojm said, "if Polish Jewry's call for help goes unheeded, Hitler will have achieved one of his war aims-to destroy the Jews of Europe irrespective of the military outcome of the war." Zygelbojm's efforts failed, and he began to despair about the fate of Polish Jews; when word came of the final liquidation of the Warsaw Ghetto, he committed suicide on May 12, 1943.

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