The Liquidation of the Warsaw Ghetto
For almost a month the Jews of the Warsaw Ghetto fought for their lives. Many of them perished in the fires and smoke of the uprising. Others were murdered in the ghetto streets. The remainder were sent to Treblinka, Majdanek, and other camps in the Lublin area. Few managed to escape to the Aryan side of Warsaw. The ghetto was transformed into a wasteland.
I decided to leave and was met by an unimaginable sight. The cellar, through which our shelter was reached, lay in ruins; the electricity and water – cut off. Through the holes in the walls one saw a sea of flames engulfing the nearby wings of the building from top to bottom. Bilious smoke blocked out the sky, yet the light was as strong as day. The courtyard was covered in shards of glass, pieces of brick, of tin, of charred wood, of damaged piping and other debris, window frames, pieces of walls, furniture and household utensils; it all amounted to a sight which is hard to describe. It was hard to find any kind of parallel. I was no stranger to destruction, including the last days of the 1939 siege of Warsaw. But the present destruction surpassed anything I had ever seen. Baruch Goldman in Nachman Blumenthat and Joseph Kermish, Resistance and Revolt in the Warsaw Ghetto: A Documentary History, p. 274
I go out into the street, [it is] burning! Everything around is on fire. [Whole] streets! Mila, Zamenhof, Kurza, Nalewki, Lubeckiego. Shortly put, all the streets are burning. Appartments are burning, workshops, warehouses, stores and entire buildings. The entire ghetto is a sea of flames. There is a strong wind, which blows out sparks from the burning houses to the ones which do not burn yet. The fire immediately destroys everything. A stunning sight. The fire expands so [fast?] that people don't have time to flee the houses and perish inside in a tragic manner.
The fire causes a huge commotion on the street. People with bundles run from house to house, from street to street, there is no rescue, no one knows where to take shelter. They seek desperately, nothing, no rescue, no protection, death prevails everywhere. The ghetto walls are completely surrounded, no one can enter or leave. [The] clothes are burning on people's bodies. Screams of pain and crying, houses and bunkers are burning, everything, everything is in flames. "Hell has Come to Earth" An Anonymous Woman's Diary from the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, p.30
On the 16th of May, 1943, the Germans destroyed the Great Synagogue on Tłomackie street in Warsaw, in an act which proclaimed the final suppression of the ghetto uprising. General Jürgen Stroop, the commander of the S.S. unit engaged in the suppression of the uprising, presided over the demolition. Stroop added the following caption to the photo album documenting the suppression of the Warsaw Ghetto uprising, during April and May, 1943: "There is no longer a Jewish quarter in Warsaw."