Umschlagplatz was the square from which Warsaw’s Jewish community were sent to death camps during World War Two, particularly to Treblinka. Today, a monument marks this tragic “assembly point”, from where thousands of people were transported.
The Umschlagplatz is the area in Warsaw where the Jews from the Warsaw Ghetto were gathered in order to be deported to Treblinka Concentration Camp.
In accordance with an order to liquidate the Warsaw ghetto and deport residents to forced labour camps, German SS and police units tried to resume mass deportations of Jews from Warsaw on January 18, 1943. A group of Jewish fighters, armed with pistols, infiltrated a column of Jews being forced to the Umschlagplatz and broke ranks to fight their German escorts. Most of these Jewish fighters died in the battle, but the attack sufficiently disoriented the Germans to allow the Jews arranged in columns at the Umschlagplatz a chance to disperse. This became known as the January revolt.
Later in the same year, the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising took place. This was the 1943 act of Jewish resistance in the Warsaw Ghetto in German-occupied Poland to oppose Nazi Germany’s final effort to transport the remaining ghetto population to Majdanek and Treblinka death camps.
The uprising started on 19 April when the ghetto inhabitants refused to surrender to the police commander SS-Brigadeführer Jürgen Stroop. It was the largest single revolt by Jews during World War Two and a total of 13,000 Jews died.
On 18 April 1988, on the eve of the 45th anniversary of the outbreak of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, a stone monument resembling an open freight car was unveiled to mark the Umschlagplatz.
The monument’s white marble wall covered with names symbolizes the Wailing Wall and the wall which once surrounded the Ghetto, separating Jews from the regular life of the city. It was designed by architect Hanna Szmalenberg and the sculptor Wladyslaw Klamerus.
The outside wall just has a black strip going across the upper third of the white marble looking wall with the word “Umschlagplatz” engraved. Above the entrance is a headstone style black plaque that has broken trees symbolizing a cut forest-the Jews who were cut down in their prime. The inner wall is divided in half. Instead of writing all the victims’ names there are 400 Jewish and Polish names, both male and female, are engraved on the wall showing how every possible name was included in the transports.
A side wall on the building next door contains an inscription in Hebrew, Yiddish and Polish memorializing the victims. It states: “From this place, in 1942 and 1943, mass murdering Nazis transported hundreds of thousands of Jews to the death camps. Hail to the memory of Jewish martyrs and fighters.”
The monument was renovated in 2007 according to the design and under the supervision of architect Jan Beyga.
Getting to Umschlagplatz
The monument is located in Warsaw at the intersection of Stawki and Karmelicka Streets. It is easily accessible by public transport with several stations nearby.
Explore the diverse history of Poland, from the great Barbakan to the beautiful Wilanow Palace, through our guide to 10 historic sites, landmarks and monuments to see when in Poland.