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Deportation from the Bialystok Ghetto.
Jewish mass grave exhumation in Białystok.

Białystok Ghetto Uprising was an insurrection in Poland's Białystok Ghetto against Germany during World War II. It was organized and led by Antyfaszystowska Organizacja Bojowa (Polish for Anti-fascist Military Organisation). It was the second largest Ghetto uprising, after the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising.

Until February 1943 there were approximately 15,000 people still living in the Białystok Ghetto. The German Nazis planned to liquidate the Ghetto in February, but due to the outbreak of armed resistance of the local inhabitants the plan was postponed. However, the resettlement to concentration and extermination camps continued on a normal pace.

The liquidation of the ghetto was again started in August. During the night of 15-16 of August 1943, several hundred Polish Jews started an armed struggle against the troops carrying out liquidation of the Ghetto.

The guerillas led by Mordechaj Tanenbaum and Daniel Moszkowicz were armed with only one machine gun, several dozen pistols, Molotov cocktails and bottles filled with acid. Similarly to the earlier Warsaw Ghetto Uprising of April 1943, the Białystok uprising had no chances for military success. However, it was seen as a way to die in combat rather than in German camps.

The fights in isolated pockets of resistance lasted for several days, but the defence was broken almost instantly. The commanders of the struggle committed suicide after their bunkers ran out of ammunition. Most of the Jews from the Ghetto were then sent to camps in Treblinka, Majdanek and Auschwitz. Approximately 1,200 children were sent to Theresienstadt concentration camp and later to Auschwitz.

Several dozens of guerillas managed to break through to the forests surrounding Białystok where they joined the partisan units of Armia Krajowa and other organisations and survived the war. It is estimated that out of almost 60,000 Jews who lived in Białystok before the war only several hundred survived the Holocaust.


  • B. Mark, „Ruch oporu w getcie białostockim. Samoobrona-zagłada-powstanie”, Warszawa 1952.
  • „Obozy hitlerowskie na ziemiach polskich 1939 – 1945. Informator encyklopedyczny.”, Warszawa 1979 r.

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