On this day in 1943, the Jews of the ghetto of Bialystok, Poland, initiated an uprising against the city’s German occupiers. The revolt was sparked by the entry of the German SS – assisted by Latvian, Byelorussian and Ukrainian fighters – into the ghetto, with the goal of deporting the Jews (who had numbered about 60,000 in and around Bialystok before the war) to death camps.
In what became the second-largest revolt of a Jews against the Nazis (after the Warsaw Ghetto uprising), some 300 fighters of the Anti-Fascist Fighting Organization resisted the invading forces; their goal was to allow the residents of the ghetto to escape into the nearby Knyszn forest. Some Jews successfully got out, but the uprising was quickly put down and by August 20, the ghetto had been destroyed and some 10,000 Jews deported to Treblinka and other camps.
Mordechai Tenenbaum and Daniel Moszkowicz, the two young leaders of the partisans – whose arms included 25 rifles and 100 pistols – committed suicide before being captured.
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