DWARFS SCREAM WHEN HEROES SLEEP
From NASZ DZIENNIK - Warsaw, Poland
"Nearly all the literature written to this day - and many books as well as articles have been written about the uprising of the Warsaw Jews - is either a terrible falsification by those seeking their own fame while forgetting about others, or it is a mistake which results from a lack of knowledge and trusting relationship with surviving eyewitnesses, who fabricated their stories and shortened versions, making others look less significant and themselves more appealing - wrote Chaim Lazar-Litai in his book Masada in Warsaw.
There was also official communist propaganda in Poland which gave a false picture of the uprising from the very beginning.
The Jewish Fighting Organization (ZOB - Zydowska Organizacja Bojowa) acted as the only counted-for participant in the uprising, despite the fact that her real involvement in the uprising was secondary. Her unveiling by communist historians, was decided by the official pro-Soviet orientation. As a consequence, the Polish leaders silenced the participation of the closely knit with the Polish Home Army, Jewish Military Organization (ZZW - Zydowski Zwiazek Wojskowy). With many more men, better armory, and trained by Polish instructors, they held a long lasting resistance against the Germans (from the 19th until the 27th of April 1943). For a comparison - badly armed and unprepared for combat, the warriors of ZOB were only able to defend themselves effectively for about eleven hours on the first day of the uprising. The fall of communism did not stop the conspiracy regarding ZZW. To this day there are plenty of those supporting the 'historical killing' of the truth about the participation of ZZW soldiers in the uprising. A demand for this enormous lie still exists; the only thing that has changed is its foundation. The Polish vision of "anti-Semitism", forced by pro-Jews and the Jewish movement cannot stand to measure up with facts from Polish-Jewish brothers in arms. In the midst of rampant lies and half-truths about the Polish Warsaw Uprising, it is worth to take a look at two Jewish publications The truth about the Warsaw uprising authored by Jewish publicist Aleksandra Swiszczewa, who appeared in "Shalom New York", as well as "Changing faces of memory: Who defended the Warsaw Ghetto?" by Moshe Arsen, published in the "Jerusalem Post" on April 23rd 2003.
The beginnings of ZZW
In November 1939, four Jews came to Captain Henry Iwanski's home, officer from the Armed Battle Organization (ZWZ - Zwiazek Walki Zbrojnej). They were officers from the Polish Army - with Lieutenant David Mordechai Apfelbaum. They came forth with a proposal to create a Jewish fighting group, which would become part of the Polish underground. Towards the end of December the group came to life (it counted 39 people), made an oath and received the name of Jewish Military Association. After the oath, Captain Iwanski handed ZZW members 39 guns. On January 30th 1940, information about the emerging of ZZW was sent to General Sikorski. During the years 1940-1942, ZZW cells appeared all over Poland; the strongest links were in Lublin, Lwow and Stanislawow. The base of the organization was created by the members of the youthful organization "Betar" as well as two Zionist organizations. The main goal of ZZW in 1940 was the crossing of its members, particularly the officers, through the Polish-Hungarian border, to the Polish squads formed in France and England.
Extermination of Jews and the left's weakness
During the summer of 1942, the Germans began their planned annihilation of the Warsaw ghetto. This so called 'great action' lasted from July 22nd until September 21st. Over three hundred thousand Warsaw Jews were sent to Treblinka and Majdanek. There remained only about fifty thousand people in the ghetto (according to official German statistics this number was about 35 000). Only then did the Zionist members of the socialist left-wing party decide to form their organization (along with Bund and the communists). Until this time they had not operated any underground activity. "We were the real authority in the ghetto. We decided how those remaining in the ghetto would live. They called us 'the party'. When the party ordered something, it was done immediately", remembers Mark Edelman about the Soviet order which reigned in the communist structures. There were no officers from the Polish Army during ZOB's entire existence.
Preparation and organization of ZZW
During this time the Jewish Military Organization had already been active two and a half years. Its members received weapons from the Polish Home Army and were learning how to use them. For this reason, an instructor, Captain from the Polish Home Army, came to see them on a regular basis from the city. From the memoirs of Henry Iwanski, officer from the Security Corps of the Polish Home Army, responsible for links with Jewish organizations, we find out that in the summer of 1942, 320 armed soldiers served in ZZW. During the period of the so-called 'great action' they hid in underground bunkers. For this reason, only about 15-20 of them were killed. The ZZW leader, David Apfelbaum, was warned by the Security Corpus about the approaching of the German action. He informed the Judenrat leader, Czerniakow, and suggested a resistance. In July 1942, a ghetto society meeting took place with Czerniakow and his replacement Lichtenbaum. Apfelbaum and Iwanski presented a report of the situation. Their suggestions were rejected. The leaders of ZZW did not decide to step against the Germans, thinking that they would probably be the ones blamed for this bloody massacre. Of major importance, as we can understand from Iwanski's memoirs, is the fact that from the very beginning of the 'great action', the organization was cut off from its weapon supplies; it could therefore not have done much in terms of resistance. The first open intervention against the Germans occurred in January 1943, when ZZW counted already 500 people. The structure of the organization confirms these figures. It was based on so-called 'fives' - four soldiers and one leader. Three 'fives' formed a squad, four squads formed a platoon. Four platoons formed a company (240 people). In the beginning of January 1943, ZZW counted two armed and equipped companies, as well as two 'skeleton' companies. These had no soldiers or arms, but it was assumed that during the uprising a mass of volunteers would fill its ranks. In April 1943, this task was completed.
Disproportions in the arming of ZZW and ZOB
The main weapon supplier for ZZW was the Safety Corpus of the Polish Home Army. From June 1942 until the beginning of the April 1943 uprising (this is how the Warsaw ghetto uprising is described in Jewish historiography) the Safety Corpus sent to the ghetto 3 heavy machine guns, 100 handguns, 7 rifles, 15 automatic guns and about 750 grenades. After the beginning of the uprising they sent an additional 4 machine guns, one light machine gun, 11 automatic guns, 50 handguns and 300 grenades. Apart from this, Henry Iwanski sent weapons to ZZW in 1941. In the first half of 1942, ZZW also received weapons from other groups of the Polish Home Army.
If we are to believe Mark Edelman, the best equipped for battle was his maternal ZOB. "Bund was the one political organization which had money. Arbeter Ring, a New York based worker's organization, to which belonged the chief of the American Trade Union, Dubinski, as well as comrades Pat and Held, sent us money from the very beginning. On the other hand the Zionists had not a penny. Their comrades from Palestine abandoned them", explains Edelman. He also added that another way of 'taking money' was 'terrorizing' 'rich Jews', 'smugglers', as well as 'Jewish policemen'. "We robbed the Judenrat cash drawer for hundreds of thousands of zloty; we also robbed the supplying company. We even went as far as kidnapping the son of Mark Lichtenbaum, leader of the Judenrat in Czerniakow when he refused to give us money. We wrote to Lichtenbaum that we have his son with his feet in ice cold water, so he will certainly get sick. They finally came with the money. On a different occasion, a Jewish policeman didn't want to give money. We had to show him that we were tough. We came to see him at around four o'clock, when the time for the ultimatum was up. "You don't want to give?" we asked and shot him. After this episode everybody paid. We never lacked money.
In the meantime Alexander Swiszczew, calling upon the memoirs of B. Jaworski (communist and leader of one of the ZOB groups) constantly gives an alarming state of weaponry of ZOB. "In January 1943 they had at their disposition 2 guns and one grenade, and this after 5 months of hard work. On April 19th ZOB had 70 handguns (50 of which they received from ZZW, and 10 from Polish communists). They had not a single machine gun... What more - no a single men who has ever see one, let alone the knowledge to use one. The numbers of ZOB (according to its official data) were 500 people during the uprising, but according to later memoirs of ZOB leaders it was only about 200-300 people. In the meantime the count for ZZW members during the uprising reached 1500 people (according to the memoirs of captain Zajdler and a few other officers of the Polish Home Army). The fact that ZZW also accepted into its ranks just about any person who was willing also influenced their numbers. They did not look at their party allegiance. Only the leadership remained revisionist. Among the leaders of medium rank we find a member of Bund, a member of Arudat-Israel and a communist. Joining with ZZW on autonomous principles, was the Hassidic organization from Braclaw and the left-wing socialist group of Richard Walewski, which ZOB did not accept for "not belonging to the Zionist camp". Neither did the communists and Bund, but they were accepted into ZOB for unknown reasons. It is also worth adding that ZZW numbers of 1500 fighters do not include all the different people which joined during the uprising. No one knows how many they were.
Left-wing party enlistment
Unlike ZZW, ZOB was created on purely political motives. The parties entering into this organization formed their own companies. There were 22 of them. Bund had 4 companies, the communists 4, and the remaining 15 belonged to the Zionist camp. Those without a political affiliation were not accepted into ZOB. They were not allowed acceptance lest there was a shortage of weapons. Because of these reasons, the numbers of ZOB could not have risen during the uprising. Another problem deepened this fact, because ZOB was mainly oriented on the Soviet Union and was looking for a link with the communist underground, counting on its help. Unfortunately, this help could not be given because of the weakness and small number of members.
The ZZW tried to work jointly with ZOB. There were many discussions about the union of the two organizations; unfortunately the left-wing Zionists continued their pre-war line of boycott of "fascists-revisionists". Nevertheless, they came to an agreement to collaborate, but separately. The ghetto territory was divided into two military districts. Each organization was responsible for its district. The ZZW also gave ZOB some of its weapons: 50 handguns and a few grenades, which became a big part of ZOB's weapons. "I will take a chance by saying that the lack of unity played a positive role. If the uprising was led by the chiefs of ZOB, and this is what uniting would have done, it would have weakened the resistance", convinces Alexander Swiszczew.
16 hours of ZOB
The author leaves absolutely no doubt as to the proportionally small participation of ZOB in the uprising: "The first German attacks on the ghetto were directed at ZOB positions near Nalewki and Zamenhof streets. ZOB warriors held a resistance for 16 hours, they set a tank on fire and eliminated from battle some twenty German soldiers; they then retreated. This marks the end of ZOB involvement in the uprising. But it is worth adding that some scattered ZOB groups were still active. On April 20th they still held a resistance while the Germans were destroying individual bunkers. What can be called "the uprising in the Warsaw ghetto" really lasted from April 17th until the 27th. The Germans were not fighting with ZOB.
ZZW under Polish and Jewish, ZOB under the red flag
After 16 hours of defense by ZOB, the Germans approached the Muranowski Square. It is here that the longest lasting position battle took place. The Square was the center of the ZZW district. The main ZZW staff was in house number 7. At Muranowski Square, in house number 17, Polish and Jewish flags were visible (the only ZOB flag which was seized by the Germans after their attack on the Anielewicz bunker was a red flag). A tunnel led into the basement of house number 7, which was used by ZZW to receive weapons and ammunitions from the city. ZZW warriors also dug 6 tunnels in different parts of the ghetto. One of them was discovered by the Germans even before the beginning of the uprising. ZOB didn't have a single tunnel. It is through this road that Josef Lejbski, linked with the Polish Home Army, supplied a heavy machine gun on the night of April 18th to 19th. It was mounted in the attic of house number 17 and strengthened considerably the power of ZZW. In the April 19th battles at the Muranowski Square, German soldiers tried to take the flag but they did not succeed until April 22nd.
The leader of the ghetto pacification, Brigadenfuhrer SS Jurgen von Stroop in his prison talk with Kazimierz Moczarski, admitted that "the problem of the flag had enormous political and moral implications". They united the nation around a right-wing government, especially Poles and Jews. Even a German criminal knew that this was impossible under the red flag. Reichsfuhrer Himmler shouted into the telephone: "Stroop, you must take down those two flags at any cost". Stroop received a First Class Eisen Kreuz for the pacifying of the ghetto.
The courage of the allies
In the meantime, the uprising seemed to be strangled. However, on April 27th squads of the Polish Home Army came with help. Major Henry Iwanski's squad walked through the tunnel and began to fight with the Germans. Simultaneously on the Muranowski Square, the soldiers of ZZW attacked the Germans. Both squads united together. In his report directed to Krakow he described the battle of ZZW with the Polish Home Army: "The main Jewish fighting group, in which Polish bandits also took place, retired the first or second day to a square called Muranowski. It became reinforced by a considerable number of Polish bandits. (...) On the roof of a building they put up Polish and Jewish flags as a sign of a war against us".
A part of ZZW Poles anticipated leaving the ghetto and joining the "Aryan side". David Apfelbaum refused to leave the ghetto because he had no links with many ZZW groups which were in other locations. Only a small number of warriors, 34, came out. For many hours, the Poles covered their evacuation, suffering much casuality. Major Iwanski was hurt, and both his sons, Edward and Roman were killed. The Germans lost over 100 people and one tank. In the April 27th battles, David Apfelbaum was severely wounded and died the following day. On April 29th the remaining ZZW warriors, which had lost all their leaders, left the ghetto through the Muranowski tunnel and became relocated in the Michalin Forest. This was the end of the main battles. It was the beginning of the penetration inside the ghetto and destruction of bunkers.
The last days of the uprising
From Stroop's report: "Unfolding of operation 29.04.43 (...). 36 bunkers intended as living quarters were found. From these and other hiding places, 2359 Jews were taken out, and 106 of these Jews died in battle (...). Forces: same as yesterday, no causalities. Unfolding of operation 2.05.43. We found 27 bunkers (...). Amongst the wounded - 4 German policemen, 4 Polish policemen. 6.05.43 (...). The Unterscharfuhrer SS was wounded (...). 47 bunkers were also destroyed, two people were wounded.
It is clear that during the destruction of the bunkers (631 were destroyed in total); the Germans also had a number of casualties. But these losses (106 Jews died in combat and not a single German was even wounded) are not comparable to the loss in the first days. Finally, the uprising was strangled on June 5th when the last battle took place with the Germans. Everything took place at the Muranowski Square. This time, the battle with the Germans was led by a group of Jewish criminals, without any link to either ZZW or ZOB. During the climax of finding and destroying bunkers, a small group of ZZW warriors entered the ghetto from the Aryan side and on May 5-6 they evacuated Jewish civilians into the city. By trying to camouflage the civilians, on May 6th, all the fighters were killed.
The ZOB evacuation
At the beginning of May, ZOB discovered a way out through the sewer system and left the ghetto. They would have escaped earlier perhaps, but they did not know the way since they did not have their own tunnels. As they were leaving the ghetto, they also left their warriors scattered in various places. From the memoirs of one of the members of the leadership of ZOB, it seems that they refused to take with them civilians and Jews without any political affiliations who were asking them for help.
Mordechaj Anielewicz refused to escape. On May 8th his bunker was surrounded by the Germans. Anielewicz, along with his fellow warriors were killed. According to some less trustworthy sources, Anielewicz killed himself earlier, before the bunker was surrounded by the Germans.
Apfelbaum led, not Anielewicz
"Various sources seem to indicate that the battle with the Germans was not led by the 'pacifists' from ZOB, but rather by the 'militants' of ZZW. Among the 1300 killed and wounded Germans, the ZOB hardly killed over a hundred of them. In agreement with this, the real leader of the uprising was not Mordechaj Anielewicz, but Lieutenant David Apfelbaum" (After his death he was advanced to the rank of Major) - believes Swiszczew.
A cited Jewish publicist strongly rejects slanderous talks of the Polish Home Army's idle watching of the destruction of the ghetto: "It is important to admit to false allegations of ZOB leaders (and all except Anielewicz survived) and Polish communists about the refusal by the Polish Home Army to help those fighting in the ghetto. Of course, the half million men Polish Home Army could have shown a greater help, but can we blame her for this?"
The communists sold ZOB
Alexander Swiszczew presents rather straightforwardly the communists' role and position of ZOB, who trusted them: "The Polish communists' interest in throwing mud at their political adversaries is understandable, as is ZOB's anger towards them. But if we must blame someone for the 'selling' of the ghetto uprising, it would be the Polish communists. The Polish Home Army showed great support, even if it was only towards 'their own Jews'. During this time, the communists sent 'their own Jews' only 10 handguns. It was enough for Anielewicz to shoot himself..."
The Jewish publicist suggests upfront that removing the truth about the participation of ZOB soldiers from history, takes away the facts from the Jewish resistance movement's best achievements. This is why - he convinces - "most of the lies spread around the uprising would not necessarily be presented by increasing the role of 'our own' and attacking 'strangers'. Complaining during the war is a normal thing. The biggest scare comes from the fact that these lies are used to calumniate the entire Jewish nation. Yet, the entire Jewish nation was walking like a 'lamb to the slaughterhouse', and for this reason the heroes of the uprising held a resistance".
A calling for the truth
In his book The Ghetto is Fighting, published shortly after the war, Edelman does not even mention ZZW. Another member of ZOB, Isaac Cukierman talks ignorantly about this organization. Yet there are testimonies from members of ZZW. Even in 1946, a small pamphlet appeared 'The truth about the Warsaw ghetto uprising'. Various memoirs of former ZZW members were published. In the 1960's a lot of material was gathered and systemized in Chaiman Lazarus-Litai's book Masada in Warsaw. Let us add to the list Muranowska 7, by Lazarus, published in 1966. Three years earlier David Wdowinski published a book in New York, And we are not saved, in which the publicist presents himself as one of the leaders of the Warsaw ghetto uprising. It is also worth remembering Marian Apfelbaum's book Two Standards: the Thing about the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, whose worth Anka Grupinska tried to diminish in 'Tygodnik Powszechny' (Searching for the (only) historical truth, 29.06.2003). Apfelbaum reminded about the Polish Home Army's role as an ally of the Jewish insurgents.
The perpetuity of lies or the past?
Even doctor Mark Edelman, one of the ZOB participants in the uprising, often called ZZW soldiers 'fascists'. He was convinced that ZOB lead the uprising. Later in the book interview Guardian, Mark Edelman tells about his trying to disregard and forget the past. "It is not important who shot where, how, and where they jumped. My purpose is not to give a testimony of the soldier's courage" - he explains. Edelman also unwillingly refers to the facts in the conversation with Hanna Krall, when he admitted that in the uprising, only about 200-220 warriors from his organization fought. "It doesn't matter" - he explains to Jew Michail Rumerow-Zarajewow. "Everything is nothing around the perpetuity of the past". The truth seems especially insignificant for certain Jewish scholars.
ZOB dishonored and the Holocaust enterprise
Paul Shapiro attempts to remember the true role of ZZW in 'Reczpospolita' ("The Jewish Military Organization - history's white stain", 5-6.07.2003 as well as: "The Unknown History. The Jewish Fighting Organization, The Jewish Military Association. A short course on remembering and forgetting"). Without hesitation, Shapiro writes about the damaging role of the ZOB propagandists, who built their own legend on ZZW's corpse: "To make sure that we are remembered and not forgotten, it is not sufficient to know how to use a machine gun; you have to always surround yourself with strategic weapons. On the example of our own country's 'London list' containing names of the ZOB fighters murdered in the ghetto uprising, names of people having nothing in common with the uprising but who were politically close were added. May I add that the person adding these names benefited from an excessive memory" - writes Shapiro. In his opinion, ZOB fighters make up one of the pillars of the Holocaust enterprise. Coming face to face with the truth about the general involvement of ZZW in the uprising, which was supported by the Polish Home Army, would have certainly shattered the interest of the support movements. It is not very polite to request compensation from the allies, but it is a lot simpler from a 'Polish anti-Semites'.
"60 years have gone by since the beginning of the uprising in the Warsaw ghetto. Because it has become legendary, it should be freed from political prejudice and truthfully narrated with a straightforward relating of events. We owe this to the heroes of the uprising" - concluded Moshe Arens in The Jerusalem Post, concerned about this since the soldiers of ZZW could not write down their history. The insolence of leaders from the Jewish World Congress, who need 'Polish collaboration' in the emerging of the Auschwitz concentration camp, is the newest reminder of this. There are strong insinuations that the truth about the Polish-Jewish brothers in arms of the Polish Home Army - the ZZW - will not be eternalized in the Museum of Polish Jews in Warsaw - jointly created using Polish money - if the Polish side does not request this accomplishment.
The historical suicide of the Polish-Jewish brothers in arms heroes has produced deep and unhealed wounds in the memory of both nations. As long as, in the name of genuine ghetto heroes, usurpers are crying out praises asking for ten of millions of dollars for so-called compensation, the picture of a Jew in the eyes of a Pole - and vice-versa - will be distorted. There is consequently not a great deal of opportunity for a full normalization of relations between our nations without recalling the beautiful cards of a common history and removing any fire of its implementation.
By Waldemar Moszkowski