Skip to comments.Ex-leader recalls Warsaw Ghetto uprising
Posted on 04/15/2008 12:30:37 PM PDT by Responsibility2nd
LODZ, Poland (AP) - Marek Edelman, the last surviving commander of the 1943 uprising in the Warsaw ghetto by a handful of scrappy, poorly armed Jews against the Nazi army, becomes emotional when he speaks of the fighters he led. "I remember them allboys and girls220 altogether, not too many to remember their faces, their names," says 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 capital in inhuman conditions. On April 19, 1943, German troops started to liquidate the ghetto by sending tens of thousands of its residents to death camps.
Several hundred young Jews took up arms in defense of the civiliansthe first act of large-scale armed civilian resistance against the Germans in occupied Poland during World War II.
"It was the first, most important and most spectacular" instance of Jewish armed resistance to the Nazi Holocaust, said Andrzej Zbikowski, head of the Jewish Historical Institute in Warsaw.
In an interview with The Associated Press, Edelman said the Nazis "wanted to destroy the people, and we fought to protect the people in the ghetto, to extend their life by a day or two or five."
Then 24 years old, Edelman took command of one of the revolt's three groups. His fighters, between the ages of 13 and 22, scraped together guns and ammunition that they and the Polish resistance managed to smuggle in from the outside.
His brigade included 50 fighters known as "brush men" because their base was a brush factory.
"There weren't enough guns, ammunition. There was not enough food, but we were not starving. You can live for three weeks just on water and sugar," which they found in the homes of those deported to death camps, he said.
They adopted hit-and-run tactics. With time, as supplies and forces began to run low, they resorted to attacks at night, for more safety.
"Every moment was difficult. It was two or three or 10 boys fighting with an army," Edelman said. "There were no easy moments."
But they were outnumbered and outgunned.
"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.
The uprising ended when its main leadersrounded up by the Naziscommitted suicide on May 8, 1943. The Nazis then 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."
Edelman and a few others stayed in Warsaw to help coordinate and supply the Jewish resistance groups. Some fighters still live in Israel and Canada. Edelman is the last one in Poland.
Despite the ghetto uprising's ultimate failure, "it was worth it," Edelman said. "Even at the price of the fighters' lives."
After the war, Edelman chose to remain in Poland, becoming a social and a democratic activist, and guardian of the ghetto fighters' memory.
"When you were responsible for the life of some 60,000 people, you don't leave and abandon the memory of them," he said.
A service was held in Warsaw on Tuesdayto avoid conflicting with the Jewish sabbathand drew a crowd of 1,000, including Israeli President Shimon Peres and his Polish counterpart, Lech Kaczynski, as well as U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff. Israeli and Polish flags fluttered in the afternoon breeze as Poland's chief orthodox rabbi, Michael Schudrich, read out the Kaddish, or Jewish prayer for the dead.
Peres praised the young fighters, who he said displayed "a heroism that our children will proudly carry with them in their hearts."
Edelman views the annual observances as "part of educating people and fighting genocide."
He said people "have to be educated from childhood, from kindergarten, that there should be no hatred."
"They have to be shown that all people are the same, that skin color, race, religion don't matter," he said. "We have only one life and we must not murder each other. We see the sun only once."
Possibly coming to America in the near future?
The men and women who took part in the Warsaw Ghetto revolt define the very essence of courage. Their revolt was one of the most valient actions of the few against the many. And it was the spirit of that revolt which helped to inspire the Jews after the war to found the state of Israel and stand up and fight their oppressors.
After seeing a 14 year old girl beat a 13 year old girl unconscious with a folding chair over some sunflower seeds, and a group of cheerleaders beating another girl just for their 15 minutes on YouTube, my question is “Do we have any 13 year old children who would be willing to do what those 13 year old kids did in Warsaw?”
Maybe we do, I hope we do, but everything I read about and see indicates we are losing our children/grandchildren. How can a child that seriously injures another child for some sunflower seeds possibly understand the nature of the sacrifices made by those brave kids in the ghetto?
As I recall the story, the liquidation started several months earlier; the uprising started on April 19.
God Bless and Protect Marek Edelman. He is also an outspoken supporter of the War on Terror and Liberation of Iraq from Saddam Hussein. He knows what he is talking about.
In WWII, we beat Japan and we beat Germany. We alone had the A-bomb. We could have beaten Russia, if we wanted to. We hadn't been bombed. Our economy was strong. Our industrial base was unmatched. Our military was the biggest and best in the world.
In movies, we had Gary Cooper, John Wayne, and others. On Television, we had western where men with guns made sure that bad guys were punished and justice was done so the downtrodden could live better lives.
The Left saw all this, and was scared.
It took decades, but we now have homosexuals, feminists and Leftists running the show. Our manhood is completely sapped. Our children don't understand sacrifice. They don't believe that justice can be had. They don't grasp the concept of objective truth. Our society is based on instant gratification and apathetic indulgence.
The manly strength of the 1950's has been replaced by Rosie O'Donnell. This didn't just happen.
There are folks who see a young girl beating another girl with a chair and think "You go girl! Mission accomplished".
Exactly right. We are in trouble.
My thoughts exactly. Given the other comments above regarding the current state of this nation one actually wonders if it would, in the long run, be such a bad thing?
Your thesis is flawed. Going to war against the USSR in 1945 was a non-starter from the get go. They had more more men and they were arguably the most battle-hardened troops left standing, and telling a public that had just rejoiced at beating the Axis that they were now going to war against an even tougher enemy than the Germans so that all their relatives could die in a fight against a former ally wouldn’t have gone down at all...
So it made much more sense for the US to condemn tens of millions to decades of slavery, torture, and murder.
International communism had its roots in the decades before WWII, and had already made some fairly strong inroads in the US. WWII merely put their progress on hold for a few years.
War against the Soviet Union in 1945 was a non-starter politically. Got any guesses on how many American lives the conquest of Russia would have taken? I’m thinking at least 500,000. Ordinary American citizens would have rioted in the streets.
“So it made much more sense for the US to condemn tens of millions to decades of slavery, torture, and murder.”
Yep, that about sums it up....
They IDed the SD in the right front of the photo several years ago. The Germans sent him to prison.
They sound like Obama trying to explain his remarks about the "bitter" small towners in Pennsylvania. Homina-homina-homina...
Uris also wrote "Battle Cry" and "Exodus" among many other best sellers. A most talented author.
I saw that movie too and it brought me to tears. It does a great job of showing the parts of the holocaust that we don’t even think of. For example, it shows the process of the dehumanizing of an entire group of people. Starting with a NAZI showing no respect to the concert pianists elderly father. And then continuing to the seen where the NAZI’s were forcing elderly jews to dance in fear of their lives for their amuzement. We all know about the death camps but the movie brought home to me just how dehumanizing the process leading up to those camps was. Its not a fun movie to watch but it is definately one that I would recomend every adult see at some point in their lives.