Marek Edelman, the last surviving commander of the 1943 uprising in the Warsaw ghetto by poorly armed Jews against the Nazi army, becomes emotional when he speaks of the fighters he led.
"I remember them all -- boys and girls -- 220 altogether, not too many to remember their faces, their names," said the 89-year-old doctor, who still works in a Lodz hospital. Edelman will lay a wreath in their honor at the Monument to the Heroes of the Ghetto on Saturday, the 65th anniversary of the uprising.
The Nazis walled off the ghetto in November 1940, cramming 400,000 Jews from across Poland into a 760-acre section of the Polish capital. On April 19, 1943, German troops started to liquidate the ghetto by sending the remaining residents to death camps.
Several hundred young Jews, heavily outnumbered and outgunned, took up arms in defense of the civilians.
"It lasted for three weeks, so this great German army could not cope so easily with those 220 boys and girls," he said with a grain of pride.
In the end, the Nazis burned down the ghetto, street by street. About 40 fighters escaped through Warsaw's sewers and joined the Polish partisans.
"No one believed he would be saved," Edelman said. "We knew that the struggle was doomed, but it showed the world that there is resistance against the Nazis, that you can fight the Nazis."