Unexploded Nazi mortar uncovered in ‘Warsaw Ghetto’ Jewish cemetery

An unexploded German mortar was uncovered in the major Jewish cemetery in Warsaw during renovation works.

Established in 1806, the Okopowa Street Jewish Cemetery has borne witness to Jewish life and death in the Polish capital ever since and it is the final resting place for over 200,000 people. Major figures including rabbis, intellectuals and entrepreneurs are buried there, often under elaborate tombstones and commemorative monuments. The area was also included in the boundaries of the ghetto established by the Nazis after the occupation of Poland and many of their victims were also buried in it.

The device was exposed during the cleaning of the First Quarter of the Okopowa Cemetery, which is the oldest of the site, presenting at least two levels of burial.

“Everything happened extremely quickly. The police and the bomb squad arrived rapidly. I was called in to help make sure that no unnecessary damage occurred, although since an event like this represents a matter of pikuach nefesh nobody was going to pose restrictions to the work of the sappers,” a rabbi said, referring to the Jewish concept of a life or death matter which trumps any other consideration.

While the cemetery was incorporated in the area of the ghetto, researchers believe that the mortar is likely to have been shot not during the Ghetto Uprising in 1943, but during the city uprising in 1944, when the area stood exactly on the frontline.

The cemetery is still used by Warsaw’s Jews to this day and every year is visited by tens of thousands of people. 


Subscribe to EJC newsletter

Get EJC's bi-weekly newsletter, including the latest statements and news from the European Jewish communities, direct to your inbox.

European Jewish Congress will use the information you provide on this form to contact you. We will treat your information with respect and will not share it with others. By clicking Subscribe, you agree that we may process your information in accordance with these terms.


EJC President Kantor applauds overdue decision by Facebook to ban Holocaust denial

EJC President Dr. Moshe Kantor has welcomed the decision by Facebook to ban Holocaust denial or distortion, and to better inform the public about the Holocaust.

EJC President Kantor welcomes the branding of Golden Dawn as a criminal organization

EJC President Dr. Moshe Kantor has welcomed the landmark decision by a Greek court to brand the neo-Nazi party Golden Dawn a criminal organization and declared that senior members of the party were guilty of running a criminal organization.

EJC condemns attack on Hamburg synagogue

The European Jewish Congress strongly condemns an antisemitic attack that wounded one outside a synagogue in Hamburg.

EJC calls on Scandinavian countries to follow Finland’s example and ban the antisemitic Nordic Resistance Movement

The EJC calls on the governments of Denmark, Iceland, Norway and Sweden to follow the recent example of Finland and ban the Neo-Nazi Nordic Resistance Movement.