सीधे मुख्य सामग्री पर जाएं

Why the spirit of April 1943 Warsaw ghetto uprising needs to be resurrected today

By Harsh Thakor 

Eighty years ago the world witnessed one of the most heroic uprisings in the history of the world. Manifesting the spirit of liberation from tyranny, courage scaled heights almost unparalleled in rebellion of a persecuted community. One was reminded of Mao’s saying “Nothing is hard if you dare to scale the heights.”
On the eve of Passover 1943 — the nineteenth of April — a group of several hundred poorly armed young Jews lit the spark of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, rising like a phoenix from the Ashes to mark the first insurrections against Nazism. The Jewish uprising in Warsaw testified how people’s organised revolt with Marxist spirit could challenge the most brutal or mightiest of oppressors. It integrated the proletarian Marxist spirit at a helm in regard to liberation of the Jewish community. It expressed the action of a proletarian core, and overall had an electrifying effect on the Polish Resistance.
Quoting Ernest Erber “Only those with a sense of history, with an understanding of the political meaning of resistance to the end, that is to say, the political idealists, choose to fight, not in blind desperation, but to die with a purpose. The heroes of the Ghetto fell with arms in hand because all their Socialist convictions had prepared them for that course of action. Their struggle was not a mere last act of vengeance against the hated enemy. It was a blow for freedom – the Socialist freedom to which they had dedicated their lives.”
For a small group of fighters, realizing that “dying with arms is more beautiful than without,” an isolated group of Jewish militants reminiscent of David confronting the Goliath, resisted for twenty-nine days against a much larger force, aiming to give the most mortal blow to the fascists as they could before they themselves were killed. The uprising, etched into the collective memory of postwar Jewry, lives in people’s minds like an inextinguishable flame
Their heroism was far from being a spontaneous one of the masses, was the product of organisation, planning and preparation from a relatively small — incredibly young — group of Jewish radicals, knitted together in a cohesive force.
Within a few weeks of the Nazi invasion of Poland, Governor Hans Frank ordered four hundred thousand Warsaw Jews to enter a ghetto. By November 1940, around five hundred thousand Jews from across Poland had been entrapped behind its walls, isolated from the outside world and placed in social oblivion.. Surrounded by a ten-foot-high barrier, the creation of the ghetto meant the relocation of approximately 30 percent of Warsaw’s population into 2.6 percent of the city, the designated area being no more than two and a half miles long and having previously housed fewer than 160,000 people.
In the ghetto, Jews were subjected to chronic hunger and poverty. Many families inhabited single rooms, and the dire lack of food meant that roughly one hundred thousand people survived on no more than a single bowl of soup per day. By March 1942 onwards, five thousand people died each month from disease and malnutrition, with entire collapse of sanitation system and breeding of diseases.
The initial response of the Jewish community leadership was passive. Following the creation of the Judenrat Jewish Council) — a collaborationist organization established with Nazi approval to permit easier implementation of anti-Jewish policies — some inhabitants fell into a false sense of security. A predominate idea engulfed the ghetto, examined through the glasses of Jewish history, that Nazism was an inevitable form of persecution that the Jewish people must accept.
Withstanding this demoralization, circles of defiance could be located in the self-organization of the left-wing of the Jewish community. Communists, Socialist-Zionists of varying descriptions, and social democrats organized themselves into sections in the ghetto, aiming to convert the misery into a constructive political organization. All parties — the Bund , a social-democratic mass organization that had enjoyed huge pre-war popularity; the Marxist-Zionist youth group Hashomer Hatzair the left-wing Zionist party Left Poale Zion and the Communist Party dedicated themselves to this strategy, organizing cells that aimed to resurrect collectivist approach among an emotionally battered d Jewish youth.
In dark times, the cell structures of youth organizations built base for combating hunger and depression. “The day I was able to re-establish contact with my group,” wrote the Young Communist militant Dora Goldkorn, “was one of the happiest days in my hard, tragic ghetto life.” In the project to cultivate resistance leadership among the youth, keeping morale high was crucial; acts of friendship such as the sharing of food were as important as distributing anti-Nazi literature.
By 1942, the various youth organizations felt confident enough to establish the formation of an “Anti-Fascist Bloc.” On the insistence of the Communists, a manifesto was drafted that advocated to unite the Jewish left in the Warsaw Ghetto, with the hope of crystallising this political unity across other ghettos.
Calling for a “national front” against the occupation, for the unity of all progressive forces on the basis of common demands and for armed antifascism, the manifesto projected the pre-war Popular Fronts in its organizational methodology.
The Left Poale Zion enthusiastically joined, as did the Hashomer Hatzair — who re-emphasized their fidelity to the Soviet Union, despite the Kremlin’s opposition to Zionism. The Bund, however, were less reliable, due to their historic anticommunism and rejection of specifically Jewish armed action; a party that resolutely stated Poland was the home for Polish Jews, many Bundists refused avenues other than Polish-Jewish unity of action.
The paper of the Anti-Fascist Bloc, Der Ruf, reached publication twice. Its contents placed great accent on upholding Soviet resistance and urging the ghetto inhabitants to accept unconditionally, liberation at the hands of the Red Army.
The bloc’s fighting squads contained militants belonging to all varieties of labour movement groups, but the lynchpin of the organization was Pinkus Kartin A stalwart of communism in prewar Poland and a veteran of the International Brigades to Spain, Kartin was a leader both politically and militarily. It was the arrest and murder of Kartin in June 1943 that culminated the end for the Anti-Fascist Bloc. His arrest ignited an intense repression against the prominent Young Communists, who saw their numbers dwindling and were forced into hiding.
During this period, figures from the right-wing of the Jewish community formed a rival group, the Jewish Military Union (ZZW). Led by the right-wing Zionist group Betar and funded by high society, the ZZW relied upon ex-army officers who could fight orthodox warfare with the Nazis using regular army discipline — unlike the ZOB, which considered itself the armed manifestation of the Jewish workers’ movement..
By contrast, in the eyes of Israel Gutman, the typical ZOB volunteers were “young men in their twenties, Zionists, Communists, socialists — idealists with no battle experience, no military training.” While the propaganda of the ZZW was principally nationalistic, the ZOB’s propaganda and literature propounded antiracist internationalism, offered intellectual positions on the world situation, and debated the labour movement.

Resistance

The ZOB set out to launch an anti-Nazi insurrection. However, it recognized that it was an imperative task in consolidating of the organization’s position in the wider community — it was decided that it had to carry out the intimidation and execution of Jewish collaborators with the occupiers.
For ZOB militants, collaborators represented an auxiliary wing of fascism that was instrumental in facilitating the deportation of Polish Jewry. ZOB militants chose to execute Jewish policeman Jacob Lejkin. For his “dedication” in deporting Jews to Auschwitz, Lejkin was shot, and his example shook the collaborating establishment to its knees.. This was followed by the execution of Alfred Nossig in February 1943. Józef Szeryński, the former head of the ghetto police, committed suicide to avoid his own fate.
These acts ensured ZOB’s vanguard role in the resistance movement, and also sparked resistance from beyond their ranks. In a short period of time they won over many ghetto inhabitants to this position.
Between June and September 1942, three hundred thousand Jews had been deported or murdered. People lost everyone and many young people began to dispense with anxieties about protecting their families and commit instead to militant political activity.
Contempt was shown for the self-determined martyrdom of Adam Czerniakow, the Judenrat leader who committed suicide in July 1942. For young Jewish socialists such as the prominent Bundist Marek Edelman, Czerniakow had “made his death his own private business,” a symbol of privilege in contrast to Edelman and his working-class comrades awaiting their turn on the deportation lists. For them, he said, the overwhelming sentiment in these times was that political leadership necessitated that “one should die with a bang.”

Uprising

On the morning of Monday, January 18, six months after the first mass deportations of Warsaw Jews (which reduced the number of ghetto inhabitants from four hundred thousand to approximately seventy to eighty thousand), ZOB militants sprouted from the crowds of deportees to attack German soldiers, killing several. A protracted combat followed over four days, where militants infiltrated lines of slave labourers marching towards the Umschlagplatz [Deportation of Jews], stepped out of rank at a given signal, and assassinated their German guards. Though scores of ZOB fighters succumbed, the confusion created by the fighting paved way for some to escape — and demonstrated to others that Nazi bodies were not infallible.
By April 1943, there was a general sensation that the ghetto was to be entirely liquidated. On April 19, five thousand soldiers led by SS general Jürgen Stroop entered the ghetto to remove the final inhabitants; in response, approximately 220 ZOB volunteers spectacularly began their attack, located in ersatz positions in cellars, apartments, and rooftops, each armed with a single pistol and several Molotov cocktails.
The revolt created pandemonium, taking the Nazis by complete surprise and killing many Wehrmacht and SS soldiers. In response, the humiliated German army, suffering losses at the hands of prisoners they thought long vanquished, formulated a policy of systematically burning out the fighters. Intense hand-to-hand combat broke was waged for days, and by late April coordinated warfare by the ZOB collapsed, with the conflict now reaching stage of the Germans burning small groups of armed Jews out of bunker hideouts created to evade capture.
Both the red flag and the blue-and-white flag of the Zionist movement fluttered over ZOB-seized buildings. The youngest fighter killed had been a Bundist activist aged thirteen. Though clearly inexperienced as a fighting force, an anonymously authored Bund internal document that reached London in June 1943 stressed the outstanding political unity and “fraternity” between leftist groups in combat. The relentless dedication to which the young fighters of the ZOB exhibited to their dreams of socialism was manifested to perfection in a May Day rally staged in the scenario of ghetto’s ruins.
The entire world, was celebrating May Day on that day but never in history had the Internationale been sung amist conditions where an entire nation was on the verge of perishing. The words and the song reverberated from the charred ruins portrayed that socialist youth [were] still waging combat in the ghetto, and that even in the face of death they were remained relentless in pursuit of their ideals.
Leading militants of the ZOB committed mass suicide on May 8, surrounded by the German army at their base on Mila 18. By mid-May, the ghetto had been razed, and the Great Synagogue of Warsaw personally blown up by General Stroop on May 16 to celebrate the end of Jewish resistance. A mere forty ZOB combatants had escaped onto the “Aryan” side of Warsaw, where scores more fell before war’s end in the subsequent city-wide uprising of 1944.

Relevance Today

This very spirit of the April 1943 Warsaw ghetto uprising needs to be resurrected with neo-fascism engulfing every corner of our globe, and rising to unparalleled heights. Today in similar light the Palestinians are facing the most perilous conditions. Farmers and workers are facing torments of the worst ever economic crisis, with neo-colonialism enslaving them in another form. Nation chauvinism,Racism,intolerance of religions and victimisation of immigrant communities is rampant, or fervouring at a height, as never earlier. In India, Hindutva saffron fascism is embarking on the same path as the Nazi fascists, stripping the Muslim minorities and dalits of their rights, and political dissent is crushed to dust. Thousands of political prisoners languish within prison walls world over, being denied proper human rights.
Important that the event is not treated with a Zionist tilt but upheld with a Marxist-Leninist perspective.
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Harsh Thakor is a freelance journalist who has extensively studied liberation movements. Thanks information from Jacobins blog in article from Marcuss Barnet in 2017

टिप्पणियाँ

ट्रेंडिंग

हिंदी आलोचना जैसे पिछड़ चुके अनुशासन की जगह हिंदी वैचारिकी का विकास जरूरी

- प्रमोद रंजन*   भारतीय राजनीति में सांप्रदायिक व प्रतिक्रियावादी ताकतों को सत्ता तक पहुंचाने में हिंदी पट्टी का सबसे बड़ा योगदान है। इसका मुख्य कारण हिंदी-पट्टी में कार्यरत समाजवादी व जनपक्षधर हिरावल दस्ते का विचारहीन, अनैतिक और  प्रतिक्रियावादी होते जाना है। अगर हम उपरोक्त बातों को स्वीकार करते हैं, तो कुछ रोचक निष्कर्ष निकलते हैं। हिंदी-जनता और उसके हिरावल दस्ते को विचारहीन और प्रतिक्रियावादी बनने से रोकने की मुख्य ज़िम्मेदारी किसकी थी?

ગુજરાતના સ્થાપના દિવસે યાદ કરીએ ભારતના વિશ્વપ્રસિદ્ધ ગુજરાતી પુરાતત્વવિદ્ ને

- ગૌરાંગ જાની*  આજે કોઈ ગુજરાતી એ કલ્પના પણ ન કરી શકે કે વર્ષ ૧૮૩૯ માં જૂનાગઢમાં જન્મેલા એક ગુજરાતી વિશ્વ પ્રસિદ્ધ બની શકે! પણ આપણે એ ગુજરાતીને કદાચ વિસરી ગયા છીએ જેમણે ગિરનારના અશોક શિલાલેખને દોઢસો વર્ષ પૂર્વે ઉકેલી આપ્યો.આ વિદ્વાન એટલે ભગવાનલાલ ઈન્દ્રજી. ૭ નવેમ્બર, ૧૮૩૯ ના દિવસે જૂનાગઢના પ્રશ્નોરા નાગર બ્રાહ્મણ પરિવારમાં તેમનો જન્મ થયો હતો. જૂનાગઢના એ સમયે અંગ્રેજી શિક્ષણની સગવડ ન હોવાને કારણે તેમને અંગ્રેજી ભાષાનું જ્ઞાન ન હતું પણ પાછળથી તેમણે ખપ પૂરતું અંગ્રેજી જાણી લીધું હતું.

Under Modi, democracy is regressing and economy is also growing slowly

By Avyaan Sharma*   India is "the largest democracy in the world", but now its democracy is regressing and its economy is also growing slowly. What has PM Modi's ten years in power brought us? Unemployment remains high. Joblessness is particularly high among India's youth - with those aged 15 to 29 making up a staggering 83% of all unemployed people in India, according to the "India Employment Report 2024", published last month by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and the Institute of Human Development (IHD). The BJP-led government did not provide jobs to two crore youth in a year as was promised by Modi in the run up to the 2014 general elections.

नफरती बातें: मुसलमानों में असुरक्षा का भाव बढ़ रहा है, वे अपने मोहल्लों में सिमट रहे हैं

- राम पुनियानी*  भारत पर पिछले 10 सालों से हिन्दू राष्ट्रवादी भारतीय जनता पार्टी (भाजपा) राज कर रही है. भाजपा आरएसएस परिवार की सदस्य है और आरएसएस का लक्ष्य है हिन्दू राष्ट्र का निर्माण. आरएसएस से जुड़ी सैंकड़ों संस्थाएँ हैं. उसके लाखों, बल्कि शायद, करोड़ों स्वयंसेवक हैं. इसके अलावा कई हजार वरिष्ठ कार्यकर्ता हैं जिन्हें प्रचारक कहा जाता है. भाजपा के सत्ता में आने के बाद से आरएसएस दुगनी गति से हिन्दू राष्ट्र के निर्माण के अपने एजेण्डे को पूरा करने में जुट गया है. यदि भाजपा को चुनावों में लगातार सफलता हासिल हो रही है तो उसका कारण है देश में साम्प्रदायिकता और साम्प्रदायिक मुद्दों का बढ़ता बोलबाला. इनमें से कुछ हैं राम मंदिर, गौमांस और गोवध एवं लव जिहाद. 

Laxmanpur Bathe massacre: Perfect example of proto-fascist Brahmanical social order

By Harsh Thakor  The massacre at Laxmanpur-Bathe of Jehanabad in Bihar on the night of 1 December in 1997 was a landmark event with distinguishing features .The genocide rightly shook the conscience of the nation in the 50th year of Indian independence. The scale of the carnage was unparalleled in any caste massacre. It was a perfect manifestation of how in essence the so called neo-liberal state was in essence most autocratic. 

ભારતમાં જિસસ ક્રાઈસ્ટના દર્શન, ખ્રિસ્તી ધર્મના આગમનને કારણે સમાજ વ્યવસ્થામાં પરિવર્તન

- ઉત્તમ પરમાર  મારી કિશોર અવસ્થામાં કેટલાક ચિત્રો અને મૂર્તિઓએ હૃદયમાં એવું સ્થાન જમાવ્યું છે કે આજદિન પર્યંત  ઉત્તરોઉત્તર વિકસતું જ રહ્યું છે. પ્રેમ કરુણાના મૂર્તિમંત અવતાર  જિસસ ક્રાઈસ્ટને વધુસ્તંભે ચઢાવેલી મૂર્તિ  મારી કોઈપણ ધર્મ વિશેની સમજ નહોતી ત્યારથી મારા હૃદયમાં સ્થાપિત થયેલી છે. મારા ઘરની દિવાલ પર વધસ્તંભે ચઢેલા જીસસની પ્રતિમા જોઈને કોઈ મને પૂછી બેસતું કે તું ક્રિશ્ચન છે?

रैंकिंग: अधिकांश भारतीय विश्वविद्यालयों का स्तर बहुत गिरा, इस साल भी यह गिरवाट जारी

- प्रमोद रंजन*  अप्रैल, 2024 में भारतीय विश्वविद्यालयों की अंतर्राष्ट्रीय स्तर पर उच्च रैंकिंग की चर्चा रही। मीडिया ने इसका उत्सव मनाया। लेकिन स्थिति इसके विपरीत है। वैश्विक विश्वविद्यालय रैंकिग में अच्छा स्थान मिलने की खबरें, कुछ संस्थानों को इक्का-दुक्का विषयों में मिले रैंक के आधार पर चुनिंदा ढंग से प्रकाशित की गईं थीं। वास्तविकता यह है कि हाल के वर्षों में हमारे अधिकांश विश्वविद्यालयों का स्तर बहुत गिर गया है। इस साल भी यह गिरवाट जारी रही है।

नोएडा में मैन्युअल स्कैवेंजर्स की मौत: परिवारों को मुआवजा नहीं, प्राधिकरण ने एफआईआर नहीं की

- अरुण खोटे, संजीव कुमार*  गत एक सप्ताह में, उत्तर प्रदेश में सीवर/सेप्टि क टैंक सफाई कर्मियों की सफाई के दौरान सेप्टिक टैंक में मौत। 2 मई, 2024 को, लखनऊ के वज़ीरगजं क्षेत्र में एक सेवर लाइन की सफाई करते समय शोब्रान यादव, 56, और उनके पत्रु सशुील यादव, 28, घटुन से हुई मौत। एक और घटना 3 मई 2024 को नोएडा, सेक्टर 26 में एक घर में सेप्टि क टैंक को सफाई करते समय दो सफाई कर्मचर्मारी नूनी मडंल, 36 और कोकन मडंल जिसे तपन मडंल के नाम से जानते हैं, की मौत हो गई। ये सफाई कर्मचर्मारी बंगाल के मालदा जिले के निवासी थे और नोएडा सेक्टर 9 में रहते थे। कोकन मडंल अपनी पत्नी अनीता मडंल के साथ रहते थे। इनके तीन स्कूल जाने वाले बच्चे हैं जो बंगाल में रहते हैं। नूनी मडंल अपनी पत्नी लिलिका मडंल और अपने पत्रु सजुान के साथ किराए पर झग्गी में रहते थे। वे दैनिक मजदरूी और सफाई कर्मचर्मारी के रूप में काम करते थे।

प्राचीन भारत के लोकायत संप्रदाय ने कुछ परजीवियों की खूब खबर ली: प्रमुख प्रस्थापनायें

- राणा सिंह   भारत में परजीवियों का एक विशाल समूह है जो बोलता है कि “सब कुछ माया है”,  लेकिन व्यवहार में यह समूह सारी जिंदगी इसी “माया” के पीछे पागल रहता है।  प्राचीन भारत के लोकायत संप्रदाय ने इन परजीवियों की खूब खबर ली थी।

बिहार के ऐतिहासिक विक्रमशिला विश्वविद्यालय के खंडहरों की परिक्रमा का रोमांचक अवसर

- सुमन्त शरण  कुछ दिन पहले एक सुदूर ग्रामीण अंचल (पीरपैंती)  से तकरीबन डेढ़-दो घंटे की दूरी पर अवस्थित ऐतिहासिक बौद्ध विक्रमशिला विश्वविद्यालय (के अवशेषों) की परिक्रमा का अवसर मिला। विक्रमशीला विश्वविद्यालय की स्थापना पाल वंश के राजा धर्मपाल ने की थी। 8वीं शताब्दी से 12वीं शताब्दी के अंत तक यह विश्वविद्यालय भारत के प्रमुख शिक्षा केंद्रों में से एक हुआ करता था। कहा जाता है कि यह अपने कुछेक अत्यंत अनूठे नवाचार के चलते उस समय नालंदा विश्वविद्यालय का सबसे बड़ा प्रतिस्पर्धी था। हालांकि, मान्यता यह भी है कि अल्प अवधि के लिए दोनों विश्वविद्यालय के बीच शिक्षण एवं प्रबंधन के क्षेत्रों में घनिष्ठ पारस्परिक संबंध एवं शिक्षकों के आदान-प्रदान का सिलसिला भी रहा था। यह विश्वविद्यालय तंत्रशास्त्र की पढ़ाई के लिए सबसे ज्यादा विख्यात था। इस विषय का एक सबसे विख्यात छात्र अतीसा दीपनकरा था, जो बाद में तिब्बत जाकर बौद्ध हो गया। इसके प्रथम कुलपति ज्ञान अतिस थे।