A study of the human spirit.
April 19, 2013 5:26 PM   Subscribe

Today marks the 70th anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, the largest organized rebellion by Jews during World War II. Marek Edelman, a leader of the uprising, recalls the ghetto and the revolt.

The Warsaw Ghetto Uprising began on 19 April 1943 in Nazi-occupied Poland, when rebellion broke out in the Jewish ghettos opposing Nazi Germany's effort to transport ghetto occupants to Treblinka. The rebellion lasted until 16 May and ended in tragic defeat, but it represented the largest single organized revolt by the Jews to (in Uprising leader Yitzhak Zuckerman's words) "rise up against their destroyers, and determine what death they would choose: Treblinka or Uprising."

Marek Edelman, an activist (both before and after the war) and cardiologist, was the last surviving leader of the Uprising. Before his death in 2009, Edelman recorded series of autobiographical videos in which he shared his memories of the ghetto and described his leadership of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising. The clips are hosted by Web of Stories (previously), and -- like all Web of Stories interviews -- can be watched as a series of short clips with fully searchable transcripts.

A mural in Edelman's honor will be dedicated in Warsaw on 16 May, the 70th anniversary of the Uprising's end.
posted by Westringia F. (10 comments total) 33 users marked this as a favorite
(The title of the post comes from another quote of Zuckerman, who, when asked what military lessons could be learned from the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, replied, "If there’s a school to study the human spirit, there it should be a major subject.")
posted by Westringia F. at 5:29 PM on April 19, 2013

His organization had three rifles in each area, as well as two land mines and one submachine gun in the whole Ghetto.[14][15][16][17] The insurgents had little ammunition; more weapons were supplied throughout the uprising, and some were captured from the Germans. Some weapons were handmade by the resistance; sometimes such weapons worked, other times they jammed repeatedly.

Support from outside the Ghetto was limited, but Polish Resistance units from the mainstream Home Army (Armia Krajowa, AK)[18] and the communist Polish Workers' Party's militia People's Guard (Gwardia Ludowa, GL)[19] attacked German units near the Ghetto walls and attempted to smuggle weapons, ammunition, supplies, and instructions into the Ghetto.[20] Polish resistance provided the insurgents with a limited number of badly needed weapons and ammunitions from its meager stocks.[21] Jewish right-wing resistance in the Jewish Military Union (Żydowski Związek Wojskowy, ŻZW) received large quantities of armament, including several automatic weapons, from the AK-affiliated National Security Corps (Państwowy Korpus Bezpieczeństwa, PKB).

posted by ZenMasterThis at 5:55 PM on April 19, 2013

By some odd coincidence on 19 April 1943:

Three days later, on April 19th, 1943, Hofmann intentionally ingested 250 micrograms of LSD. This day is now known as "Bicycle Day," because after starting to feel the effects of the drug he rode home on a bike, and that became the first intentional acid trip.

(from the wikipedia page on Doctor Albert Hofmann)
posted by bukvich at 5:58 PM on April 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


The Partisan's Hymn
posted by ocschwar at 6:31 PM on April 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


In the unlikely event I am ever faced with such a circumstance I hope to do half as well as they managed.
posted by bartonlong at 6:47 PM on April 19, 2013 [2 favorites]

ocschwar, thanks for posting that version of Zog nit Keyn Mol. I'd like to share my favorite rendition as well -- Paul Robeson singing it to thunderous applause in his 1949 Moscow concert.
posted by ariel_caliban at 7:34 PM on April 19, 2013 [1 favorite]

posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 8:08 PM on April 19, 2013

I spent my birthday last month in Warsaw - with hat_eater and Busy Old Fool actually, as a conference had brought me there just the day or so beforehand. hat_eater and his wife showed me their home city - Old Warsaw (rebuilt) and then we made a pilgrimage. After which, I over thought that plate of beans.

posted by infini at 10:25 PM on April 19, 2013 [3 favorites]

There are not enough tears in me to do this justice. I pray we never see its like again.

posted by arcticseal at 8:11 AM on April 20, 2013 [4 favorites]

posted by ruelle at 1:08 PM on April 20, 2013

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