TO CONCLUDE

We have examined the development of Jewish resistance in Warsaw, and have viewed the various forms of resistance. We can now begin to examine the basic supposition of resistance. The question is why did it take so long for the Jews of Warsaw to "fight back".

The first proposition is that of Yitzhak Zuckerman, he stated in May 1947 that, "If we had foreseen, if we had understood, if I could turn the wheel of history back to 1939, I would say, "An immediate uprising! - because then we had much more strength, many more youth, because we had much more pride, a greater store of human feeling,, because we had much more energy... many more arms... many more soldiers, because then we also had much more hope."

True as this may be, it fails to take in account that in January of 1939 Hitler had already made his intentions clear, he announced that a policy of extermination of European Jews would accompany any war.

Hitler had already established a network of concentration camps with 302,535 inmates by the 10 April 1939. Even if genocide of the Jews of Europe had not been assured as the eventual aim of the Nazis it would have been clear even in 1939 that resistance would be a necessity. It is true that special conditions did exist in the Warsaw Ghetto, when Minsk, Vilno and Bialystock faced the Nazi brutalities first hand, and realised the nature of the Nazi plans from an early stage. It wasnít until the summer of 1942 that Warsaw started to face a growth in direct murder. The number of Jews shot or beat to death by the Nazis in Warsaw was small, when in November 1941 the Nazis shot eight Jews caught on the Aryan side it affected the whole Ghetto, Emanuel Ringlebaum states, "The death sentence carried out on eight Jews, including six women, have shocked the entire city of Warsaw and other cities, in particular in Lithuania, where mass executions are taking place, but they all pale when compared with the fact that the eight people were shot for having left the ghetto.".

Warsaw was not in the front line of Nazi barbarity, still murder committed though starvation should have spurned resistance, if the leadership existed.

Indeed Warsaw is one of the few Ghettoís that did not witness mass protestís by the poor, the murder of starvation does not necessitate submission.

In many other countries where repression was limited there was still a high level of resistance, indeed in places were repression was massive there was still limited resistance, there is no absolute relationship between repression and resistance.

The second proposition is expressed by Yisreal Gutman he states that, "I we can indeed speak of the wrongness of the Jewish experience, its existential basis is to be sought in the conditions of Jews as a minority dispersed among a hostile majority, cut off from the free world and unable to avail itself of sources and aid."

This is the general proposition that underlies many of the contemporary views on the Warsaw Ghetto. In his "classic" film "SHOAH" by Claude Lanzmann we can see this illustrated most graphically. Yet when Emanuel Ringelbaum wrote in his diary on the 21 April 1943 the reaction of the Polish population whilst being protected by Poles he recalls that, "Warsaw continues to be preoccupied with the battle going on nearby, the Jewish-German war, the third front as it is called. The emotional attitude toward this struggle varies. While some exhibit a pronounced sense of support for the valiant resistance of Hitlerís victims among others the anti-Semitism that flourishes at such times is especially prominent, whereas the majority is best described as neutral observers. But we find a certain expression of admiration even among the indifferent or hostile, and there is an alert, even tense interest everywhere."

What Ringelbaum is describing is not the reaction of a hostile majority or that of a population that was to benefit from the slaughter or collaborate, large sections of the Polish population did not identify with the principles, ideology or aims of the Nazis. There were Poles that did and sections of the population that were openly or indifferent, but there were those that were not.

Anti-Semitism is not and never has been a given characteristic of any nation, it is the active participation or non-participation of social groups that allows for the development of racist ideology.

The identification of the Poles as a homogeneous group is a concession to the reactionary ideology that categorises whole nations or "racial" groups with given characteristics.

If we are to develop an understanding of the nature of the resistance it would be appropriate that we start with the Jewish form of oppression.

Abram Leonís book "The Jewish Question" outlines the development of the Jews as a "racial group" and argues that it is in effect the social and economic roles that Jews played in the development of society that characterises the "real Jews" as a distinct group, more actually a "people class".

This so called people class is seen in a state of permanent crisis as a result of the decline of the old feudal forms and degeneration of capitalism, it is this that proceeds the rise of and the possible forms of response.

Warsaw was the second largest concentration of Jews in the world, the composition of the Jewish population was such that 47 percent were "self employed" and 33 percent were involved in "Commerce", thus for 80 percent of the Jewish population there was little notion of collective experience, collective resistance was an alien concept.

If we separate out those that advocated resistance from the beginning we find the only organisation is that of the Bund, the "Jewish Socialist Alliance in Poland", over a period of years they had a tradition of collective resistance. They understood that the unity of resistance was not assured, the Bund was correct to conclude that Poles and the Polish underground were the only potential allies with the Jews. Ruben Ainsztein attacks this notion, "Thus the Bund leaders still delude themselves that there was a unity of interest and a underlying solidarity of action between Polish workers belonging to the divided Polish Socialist Party and the Jewish members of the Bund in the Ghetto, and which was quite unforgivable, still refused to admit that the situation of the Jews was essentially different to that of the Poles."

Without doubt the Bund was correct to assume that an exclusively Jewish response was inadequate, regardless of the differing experience. But the Bund failed to take this experience to its logical conclusion, as Orzech a leading Bund member wrote, "If it were not for the accursed ghetto conditions, we would not be sitting here at the same table. This could happen only in the ghetto. But the ghetto is not an isolated world, the destruction of the ghetto walls depends on outside political factors. The Bund has itís own fighting groups. The other parties also have their own fighting groups. From an organisation point of view the creation of a joint organisation would be harmful for it would lead to a complete deconspition. The Bund fighting groups will not reveal to the general military organisation their forms and methods of struggle, because they are a military secret. In view of these factors, the Bund will not join the common military organisation."

The Bundís decision not to organise and join a joint military organisation was a profound mistake, they failed to drew a destinction between those that wanted resistance, whether Polish or Jewish.

This is in part a result of the activities of the Polish Socialist Party, PPS. The PPS voluntary disbanded their organisation before the occupation, the decision was not popular with the left wing of the party or the Trotskyists.

The Trotskyist paper, "Barricade of Freedom" (Barykady Walnoski_ had declared the war an imperialist war after Hitlerís attack on Russia and set up a joint organisation of the Polish socialists, the Polish Socialist Workers Party, R.P.P.S. The R.P.P.S attempted to unite all the left wing "non-communist" groups. A year later the R.P.P.S joined the Communist Party, it had been reformed by Stalin after the invasion of Russia.

We have to remember that the situation the Poles were in and their actual capacity were limited. An oppressive regime with the massive deportation to concentration camps. No Polish National administration and strict laws governing every part of Polish Life.

It has been said that the difference between the Allies and the Poles is that the Poles know what really happening. This is an over simplification, the Home Army and the "official" Polish underground new about Treblinka a few days after deportations began. A member of the Home Army was employed at Treblinka railway station.

Details of the camp, the number of railway cars, the transports and first hand accounts were passed on to London, still the Polish government in exile in London didnít reply and no mention was made on the BBC. In truth the Polish Government, the War Cabinet and the Home army leadership, disgraced themselves, but a significant section of the population of Poland did not.

The Council for the aid of Jews, (Zegota) was established in Warsaw by a Pole. It extended relief to Jews in hiding. Between 15,000 - 20,000 Jews were in hiding in Warsaw, that is over 5 percent of the Jewish population at its height. At first these Poles helped their personal Jewish friends, then extended their help to many other Jews. The majority of Jews in hiding didnít survive the war only one quarter or a third survived.

Still if you consider that if a Pole was found sheltering a Jew they and their family could be deported to a concentration camp and as from the 30 November 1942, it was a capital offence to conceal a Jew, still many thousands of Poles risked all to rescue Jews.

Many Polish socialists attempted to help Jews, a group attempted to blow up a railway troop transport and conducted sewage clearance to aid survivors of the uprising, home army units did act unofficially, even a group scouts conducted armed assistance and the Peoples Guard provided much assistance.

A pole, Iwanski, remembers his activities in the Warsaw Ghetto uprising, "Later up to the middle of June, the Ghetto was entered by our patrols, which maintained contact with the Jewish fighters battling in the ruins, the so called rubblemen. We supplied them with ammunition, grenades, food, bandages and on our way back we took the wounded. We could evacuate only as many as there were in our patrols, for each of us could bring out only one Jew. We moved through the sewers dragging one wounded in a specially made sack, with opening for the legs and a grip at the head.

The sewers... had to hold up the head of the wounded as high as possible or one would arrive with a corpse. The evacuated rubblemen were mostly taken to my flat. There they were washed given first aid and their rags burnt at night. Once while she was washing the wounded, my wife, Wiktoria passed out. It turned out that our second son (18 years old) Zbigniew was in one of the sacks. Wounded during a clash, he had died while being transported.

Thus we lost both our sons and I lost also both my brother... I lost my nearest and dearest, I lost my health, I was wounded eleven times, and in 1943, my wife caught T.B. from a Jewess we were hiding. But how else could one have acted in those days?."

If a united Jewish and Polish resistance group had have been built at the on set it could have set an example for all to follow, by uniting the forces on anti-fascism. As Ringelbaum stated in October 1942, "We could have defended ourselves and resisted the slaughter. If all the Jews had left the houses, if all the Jews had broken through the walls, if they had invaded all the streets of Warsaw, both the Jewish and non-Jewish shouting, with axes, stones and choppers in their hands, then 10,000, 20,000 of them would have been shot down, but 300,000 could not have been gunned at once... The Nazi murderers would not have found it so easy to exterminate us."

Churchill said of the general Warsaw uprising that, "When the final Allied victory is achieved the epic of Warsaw will not be forgotten. It will remain a deathless memory for Poland and for the friends of freedom all over the world."

Indeed Poland suffered more that most nations, with over six million dead, thatís 18 percent of its pr-war population killed, nearly half were Jewish. Over 240,000 Poles were killed, nearly half were Jewish. Over 240,000 Poles were killed in the Warsaw uprising and another 630,000 were deported.

Yet the bitter irony is that Polandís "friends of freedom", abandoned the country after the war, itsí "guarantee" of independence was sacrificed in the name of diplomacy with its population abandoned as the spoils to the victor, Stalin.



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