WARSAW — Marek Edelman, the last surviving leader of the ill-fated 1943 Warsaw ghetto revolt against the Nazis, died Friday (Oct. 2, 2009) at the age of 90.
Mr. Edelman died of old age at the family home of his friend Paula Sawicka, where he had lived for the past two years.
Most of Mr. Edelman's adult life was dedicated to the defense of human life, dignity and freedom. He fought the Nazis in the doomed Warsaw ghetto revolt and later in the Warsaw city Uprising. And then for decades he fought communism in Poland.
His heroism earned him the French Legion of Honor and Poland's highest civilian distinction, the Order of the White Eagle.
The uprising at the Warsaw ghetto was the first act of large-scale armed civilian resistance against the Germans in occupied Poland during World War II. The ghetto fighters inflicted heavy losses on the Germans, but eventually succumbed.
One of the few survivors of three weeks of uneven struggle in the Warsaw ghetto, Mr. Edelman felt obliged to preserve the memory of the fallen heroes of that Jewish revolt. Each year, on the revolt's anniversary, he laid flowers at Warsaw's monument to the ghetto heroes, and called for tolerance.