Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, Zigelboym's Comrades, Allied Disinterest
The Warsaw Ghetto Uprising is one the most remarkable events of the Holocaust. The downtrodden, oppressed Jews of the Ghetto rose up with weapons against their enemies. Yet the Allies were not interested in helping the Ghetto warriors, despite excuses made to Shmul Zigelboym in London before the Uprising that the reason that the Allies were not helping the Jews being sent to the death camps was because the Jews were not fighting. So when the Jews did fight [in fact, Jewish partisans fought and ghetto revolts took place not only in Warsaw], the major Allies still did not help the Jews. Can someone explain this failure or reluctance to act?
The Warsaw Ghetto Uprising began in its full force on April 19, 1943 [Hebrew calendar: 14 Nisan תש'ג-5703], on the eve of Pesah [Passover], although there had been some minor skirmishing in January. So Pesah this year is an appropriate time to commemorate the Uprising. Zigelboym's comrades still in Poland took part in the fighting. This experience is described from inside by Bernard Goldstein [Zigelboym's comrade in the Jewish Socialist League, the Bund] in his book, Five Years in the Warsaw Ghetto [also called The Stars Bear Witness]. One of the obstacles to starting a Jewish uprising was the quarrels between Communists, Bundists and Zionist-socialists, as well as Revisionist-Zionists [Jabotinsky's followers]. The Communists were loyal first of all to the Workers' Paradise, the USSR, of course. They claimed to be more universalist than the Zionist-socialists, or even the Bundists, whom Lenin once mocked as Zionists who were afraid of sea voyage, since the Bundists promoted Jewish culture in Yiddish, secular culture of course. The Communists may have all too easily forgotten that the Soviet Union had made the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact in August 1939, which enabled the war to get started. The USSR had invaded Poland and grabbed parts of its territory. At that time, the USSR was not so very fussy about ideological purity. In fact, in the fall of 1939, the Soviet government newspaper, Izvestya, wrote that Nazi ideology "is a matter of taste." As long as the pact between the Nazis and Communists lasted, the Communists in the Ghetto did not want to join resistance actions. Then the Germans attacked the USSR in June 1941, breaking the Nazi-Soviet Pact. As should have been expected. Finally, the Communists were ready to resist. In fact, the Communists in many countries engaged in peace propaganda in favor of the Nazis until June 1941, not least in Britain and France where Communist deputies in the parliaments tried to prevent resistance to the Nazis by their governments [In France, Petain's Vichy state was set up in 1940 with the participation of Communists, socialists, Trotskyists].
So within the so-called "left," divisions, partly based on ideological rigidity leading to immobility, were rife. Moreover, the "left" as a whole loathed the more nationalistic Zionists, mainly followers of Jabotinsky who had frankly said all along that military force was necessary in human affairs, and of course for defense. Yet the nationalist Zionists, connected with the Betar youth group and the Revisionist Zionist movement, had close ties with certain Polish military men. In fact, the Polish government in the 1930s had reached agreement with Jabotinsky on teaching military skills to his followers. So there were at least two Jewish armed political-ideological underground groups in the Ghetto [there were also members of the pre-war Jewish underworld/gangsters who had weapons]. The nationalists, organized in the Ghetto as the Jewish Military Organization, got weapons from a certain friendly Polish military man named Major Henryk Iwanski. They were better armed than the "left," and in fact probably did more damage to the German Nazi forces. The "left" was organized as the Jewish Fighting Organization, led by Mordekhai Anilevitsh [Anielewicz]. The JFO, although probably doing less damage to the Germans than the JMO, has gotten the lion's share of favorable publicity. One book serving as a partial corrective to this neglect of the JMO is by David Wdowinski, And We Are Not Saved (New York: Philsophical Library 1963; repr. 1985).
Today, of course, what is called the "left" is frequently Nazi-like [that is, favors mass murder of Jews]. It is mainly a manipulated body of public opinion, fed with Nazi-like ideas by skilled practitioners of psychological warfare. Further, funding of "leftist" anti-Israel activities often comes from wealthy, pro-Arab sources. The fact that today's Left usually supports Arab nationalists who practice mass murder, whereas during the Holocaust [and the 2nd World War] the Arab nationalists overwhelmingly supported the Nazis, demonstrates the Nazi leanings of most of today's "left."
Here are some books that may be helpful for further study. Most are relatively little known compared to other books on the subject:
Reuben Ainsztein, The Warsaw Ghetto Revolt (New York: Holocaust Library 1979)
. . . . . .Part of a much larger work on Jewish armed resistance during the Holocaust
Moshe Arens, Flags over the Ghetto (2009?; Hebrew edition published first; English ed. should be out by now)
Moshe Arens, "The Warsaw Ghetto Uprising -- A Reappraisal" Yad vaShem Studies, 33.
Lester Eckman & Chaim Lazar, The Jewish Resistance (New York: Shengold 1977)
Philip Friedman, ed., Martyrs and Fighters (New York: Praeger 1954)
. . . . . .An anthology of personal, eyewitness accounts of Jewish resistance
Feliks Gross & Basil Vlavianos, Struggle for Tomorrow: Modern Political Ideologies of the Jewish People (New York: Arts 1954)
. . . . . .Separate chapters --written by adherents-- describe the ideologies of various Jewish political factions, including the Bund
Jan Karski, The Story of a Secret State (Boston: Houghton Mifflin 1944)
. . . . .Author was a courier for the Polish underground. Met Pres. Franklin Roosevelt and witnessed his coldness toward rescuing Jews.
Chaim Lazar, Muranowska 7: The Warsaw Ghetto Uprising (Tel Aviv: Massada 1966)
The Massacre of European Jewry (Kibbutz Merchavia, Israel: World Hashomer Hatzair 1963)
Arthur D Morse, While Six Million Died (New York: Random House 1967, 1968)
. . . . .An easily read popular account of the failure to stop the massacres
Lucien Steinberg, Not as a Lamb (Farnsborough, Hants.: Saxon House, 1974) translated from
______. La Revolte des Justes (Paris: Fayard, 1970)
David Wdowinski, And We Are Not Saved (New York: Philosophical Library 1963)
Laurence Weinbaum, A Marriage of Convenience: The New Zionist Organization and the Polish Government, 1936-1939 (New York: Columbia University Press 1993).
Yad vaShem, Jewish Resistance during the Holocaust:Proceedings of the Conference on Manifestations of Jewish Resistance, Jerusalem April 7-11, 1968 (Jerusalem: Yad vaShem 1971)
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Coming: More on the BBC, Zigelboym, the UK govt today and Israel, the UK govt supports "Peace Now"