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Simcha Rotem (1924–2018), Warsaw ghetto uprising fighter

by Kirk Fox

Resistance fighter against the Nazis in the heroic 1943 uprising.

Simcha Rotem (1924–2018) was one of the last living fighters from the heroic Warsaw ghetto uprising against the Nazis during World War II. He died December 22, 2018, in Jerusalem at the age of 94.

Rotem was a Warsaw native who was injured during a German bombing campaign. Many of his relatives including his brother were killed. He was among the large Jewish population of Warsaw who were forced to live in the infamous Warsaw ghetto by the Nazis.


When the Nazis started to deport those in the Ghetto to the concentration camps, some decided to fight against the Nazis. The Nazis then entered the ghetto and set it on fire, trying to destroy the remaining fighters. The resistance would bravely battle the Nazis for a month before finally being defeated.

Rotem, whose underground nickname was “Kazik,” was a courier between the bunkers and a fighter. He helped the few remaining fighters escape the ghetto through sewer tunnels. After the war, he immigrated to Israel and fought in the war of independence.

On the 70th anniversary of the uprising in 2013, Rotem was honored by Poland for his role in the resistance.

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Died: Saturday, December 22, 2018 (Who else died on December 22?)

Details of death: Died at the age of 94.

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What people said about him: “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. “The challenge for all of us now is to continue giving meaning to remembrance without exemplary figures like Kazik.”

The last known fighter in the ghetto uprising is 90-year-old Aliza Vitis-Shomron. She told the Associated Press, “It’s a difficult day because this really means that this is it. I’m the only one left and there is no one else to keep the story alive. He was the last fighter. I’ll keep speaking till my last day, but no one lives forever. After me, who will keep telling?”

Full obituary: Washington Post

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