Simcha Rotem was a courier in the Warsaw ghetto, shuffling between the bunkers of the ghetto and the Aryan side of the city. He was able to get many Jews out of the ghetto by smuggling them out of the ghetto through sewage tunnels and into the surrounding forests where they joined various resistance groups and spent the rest of the war fighting the Nazis. After the war he moved to Israel, joined the Haganah and fought in the War of Independence.
“This is a loss of a special character since Kazik was a real fighter in the true sense of the word” said Avner Shalev, Chairman of the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial in Jerusalem. “In the spirit of the Jewish tradition of Vehigadeta Lebincha (and you shall tell your children), may those of us still living, bring honor to Simcha Kazik Rotem and the six million Jews by keeping the memories alive.”
The Warsaw ghetto uprising took place between April 19 and May 16, 1943. This was
the first and largest armed ghetto uprising by Jews against the Nazi war machine.
The Jews of the Warsaw ghetto who participated in the uprising had no expectations of
surviving this encounter, but they wanted to choose how they would die. They wanted to die fighting, not in a gas chamber. This act of courage, determination and heroism set the stage for other uprisings and heightened the fighting spirit against the Nazis.
The Center for Holocaust, Genocide, and Human Rights Education of North Carolina (the Holocaust Speakers Bureau)
inspires students and members of our community to respect the dignity of all human beings by teaching the challenging
topics of the Holocaust, genocide, and tolerance. We work with schools, museums, libraries and houses of worship to
develop age-appropriate materials, presentations and programs.
To learn more about the Holocaust and to access our resources, please visit the resources tab on this website. Also, you can view one of our five documentary shorts to hear and see firsthand, eyewitness testimony of a survivor. You can also learn about our upcoming speaking engagements and view photos from our past events.
Three members of the Jewish Fighting Organization in the Warsaw ghetto who took part in the uprising. They worked in an underground workshop, making hand grenades and other explosives.
Kazik walking through the Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum, Jerusalem.
A Jewish man leaving an underground bunker in the Warsaw ghetto.
Recently, PBS aired a special concert featuring renowned Israeli-American violinist Itzhak Perlman, the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra and music director Manfred Honeck, and the Mendelssohn Choir of Pittsburgh in remembrance of the Tree of Life Synagogue tragedy.
Full-length video of this special event available on PBS:
~~~by Mike Lowder
Simcha Rotem, an Israeli Holocaust survivor, among the last known resistors of the Warsaw ghetto uprising, died on December 22, 2018. Simcha, who went by the underground nickname “Kazik”, was instrumental in carrying out the campaign, which has become a symbol of strength during the Holocaust. Although guaranteed to fail, he along with other heroic Jews from the Warsaw ghetto, rose up in rebellion against the power and might of the German army.
International Holocaust Remembrance Day is on January 27th. This day of commemoration around the world was established by the United Nations General Assembly in 2005. Sixty years earlier, the Auschwitz concentration and death camp was liberated by Soviet forces. On this year’s anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, let us also remember the courageous resistance that took place in the Warsaw ghetto uprising and the bravery of individuals like Kazik.