Mordechaj Anielewicz

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Mordechaj (Mordecai) Anielewicz (1919 – May 8, 1943) was the leader of Żydowska Organizacja Bojowa (English: Jewish Combat Organization), also known as ŻOB, during the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising from January to May 1943.



Anielewicz was born into a poor family in the small town of Wyszków near Warsaw. After he completed his high school studies, he joined and became a leader of the Zionist-socialist youth movement "Hashomer Hatzair".

On September 7, 1939, a week after the German invasion of Poland, Anielewicz escaped with his members of the group from Warsaw to the eastern regions in the hopes that the Polish Army would slow down the German advance. When the Soviet Red Army invaded and then occupied Eastern Poland in accordance with the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact, Anielewicz heard that Jewish refugees, other youth movement members and political groups flocked to Vilna, Lithuania, which was then under Soviet control. He went there too and attempted to convince his colleagues to send people back to Poland to continue the fight against the Germans. He then attempted to cross the Romanian border in order to open a route for young Jews to get to the Mandate of Palestine, but he was caught and thrown into a Soviet jail. He was released a short time later, and returned to Warsaw in January 1940 with his girlfriend, Mira Fuchrer.

In the summer of 1942 Anielewicz was visiting the southwest region of Poland – annexed to Germany – attempting to organize armed resistance. Upon his return to Warsaw, he found that a major deportation to the Treblinka extermination camp had been carried out and only 60,000 of the Warsaw Ghetto's 350,000 Jews remained. He soon joined the ŻOB, and in November 1942 he was appointed as the group's chief commander. A connection with the Polish government in exile in London was made and the group began receiving weapons from the Polish underground on the "Aryan" side of the city. On January 18, 1943, Anielewicz was instrumental in the first act of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, preventing the majority of a second wave of Jews from being deported to extermination camps. This initial incident of armed resistance was a prelude to the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising that commenced on April 19.

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