Two Ukrainian Askaris peer into a doorway past the bodies of Jews killed during the suppression of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, 1943.

Two Ukrainian askaris peer into a doorway past the bodies of Jews killed during the suppression of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, 1943.

Two Ukrainian askaris peer into a doorway past the bodies of Jews killed during the suppression of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising. The original German caption reads: “Ukrainian askaris used during the operation”.

During WWII, the Germans used the term “askaris” for Red Army deserters who formed units fighting against the Red Army and in other actions on the Eastern Front. They were largely Ukrainians and Russians. Askaris troops were not part of SS, they were just auxiliary troops. The word askari is a loan word from Arabic meaning “soldier”, which in turn is from Persian (lascar – meaning “army”). In the context of World War II the term often has connotations of collaborationism, and (in the case of the occupied Soviet territories) of anti-Bolshevism (and widely presented by Germans as such).

From April 19 to May 16, 1943, during World War II (1939-45), residents of the Jewish ghetto in Nazi-occupied Warsaw, Poland, staged an armed revolt against deportations to extermination camps. On April 19, 1943, the Warsaw ghetto uprising began after German troops and police entered the ghetto to deport its surviving inhabitants. Seven hundred and fifty fighters fought the heavily armed and well-trained Germans. The ghetto fighters were able to hold out for nearly a month, but on May 16, 1943, the revolt ended. The Germans had slowly crushed the resistance. Of the more than 56,000 Jews captured, about 7,000 were shot, and the remainder were deported to camps. This Uprising was the largest single revolt by Jews during World War II.