Anniversaries & holidays
16.05.1943

The anniversary of blowing up the Great Synagogue on Tłomackie Street

Wielka Synagoga Tłomackiem - spłowiałe czarno-białe zdjęcie sprzed II wojny światowej
fot. Muzeum Historii Żydów Polskich

The Great Synagogue on Tłomackie Street was a successor of the “German” synagogue on Daniłowiczowska Street.

Its construction was first initiated in 1859 by a Committee operating at the Synagogue on Daniłowiczowska Street, transformed into the Synagogue Construction Committee in 1870. The Committee represented the most affluent, emancipated and assimilated section within the Jewish community of Warsaw, most likely not exceeding 1% of the total of community members. They were the proponents of moderate reform of Judaism and as such stood in stark contrast with the majority of Jews in Warsaw, and in the Kingdom of Poland in general, who were in favour of the Hasidic rites, and with the less numerous Orthodox milieu. The Committee members were also well aware of rapid developments in synagogue building that were taking place in Europe at the time.

The Great Synagogue existed for mere 65 years. It was devastated already at the very onset of the Nazi occupation of Warsaw—the Germans organized a storehouse of furniture stolen from the ghetto residents inside the Synagogue building and at the surrounding square.

On 16 May 1943, the Synagogue was booby-trapped and then blown up by General Stroop in person. It was a sign that he had completed his mission of doing away with the Jews of Warsaw. This event marked the end of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising. The ghetto area was razed to the ground.

After the war, there were plans to rebuild the synagogue, but in the 1950s it was decided to re-arrange the Bankowy Square. A skyscraper commonly known as the Blue Tower rose at the former site of the Great Synagogue.