WARSAW, Poland — U.S. Vice President Mike Pence joined Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the Polish premier Thursday to pay their respects to the Jewish insurgents who rose up against Nazi German forces in the Warsaw Ghetto uprising of 1943.
Joined by their wives, Pence, Netanyahu and Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki of Poland took part in a wreath-laying ceremony at the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising memorial. A cantor recited a prayer in Hebrew as the three couples faced the dark memorial, with representatives of Poland’s small surviving Jewish community in attendance.
Pence and Netanyahu then held talks in the POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews, which is located on the same square in the heart of the former ghetto.
Netanyahu wrote in a museum guest book: “May the spirit and heroism of the Warsaw Ghetto Jewish resistance fighters who staged the first organized uprising against Nazi occupation in all of occupied Europe be an eternal reminder of the dangers of powerlessness in the face of tyranny.”
In remarks in front of journalists ahead of the meeting, Pence told Netanyahu that it was “very humbling for me to be here with you in this very special place on this sacred ground. To hear a prayer sung, and to remember the heroes of the Warsaw Ghetto.”
The revolt ended in death for most of the fighters, yet left behind an enduring symbol of resistance.
Netanyahu said that their resistance saved the honor of the Jewish people.
Pence and Netanyahu are in Warsaw for a conference on the Middle East co-hosted by the U.S. and Poland.
The Warsaw Ghetto uprising broke out April 19, 1943, when about 750 young Jewish fighters armed with just pistols and fuel bottles attacked a much larger and heavily armed German force that was putting an end to the ghetto’s existence.
In their last testaments, the fighters said they knew they were doomed but wanted to die at a time and place of their own choosing. They held out nearly a month, longer than some German-invaded countries did.
The Germans razed the Warsaw Ghetto and killed most of the fighters, except for a few dozen who managed to escape through sewage canals to the “Aryan” side of the city.
This version corrects that the comments left in the guest book were by Netanyahu, not Pence.