75th anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising
Statement by the Jewish Socialists’ Group
We remember with love and pride the courage of hundreds of Bundists, Communists and Left-Zionists aged 13-40 years old who began their uprising 75 years ago – on 19th April 1943 – as Nazi tanks and troops entered the Warsaw Ghetto to burn it to the ground, murder its remaining inhabitants or deport them to death camps.
From the moment the Nazis occupied Poland in September 1939 people resisted in many different ways, culturally, spiritually, and physically.
As Jewish socialists today, following in the footsteps of the Bund, we remember with special pride that the Bund had led the resistance to antisemitism and fascism in Polish society in the late 1930s, in collaboration with the Polish Socialist Party, and fought for a Poland where all national, ethnic and cultural groups would enjoy freedom and equality.
We remember the Bundists who performed extraordinary acts of heroism between 1942 and ‘43:
Zalman Frydrych who disguised himself as a Polish railway worker, learned the truth that deportation to Treblinka meant death, and revealed it in an underground Bund newspaper.
Vladka Meed who smuggled arms into the ghetto and messages out of the ghetto.
Mikhal Klepfisz who made weapons in the home of a Catholic family who were hiding him, close to the Ghetto, and took his last shipment in after the uprising started, knowing he would not return.
Szmul ‘Artur’Zygielbojm, the Bund representative on the Polish Parliament-in-Exile in London, who bombarded politicians and the media with messages from the ghettoes via underground resistance networks, and committed suicide as a political protest against the passivity of the allied powers just after the uprising was crushed.
Marek Edelman, the last surviving member of the Uprising Command Group who took part also in the general Warsaw uprising in 1944.
Against the Holocaust deniers and revisionists, we thank Edelman for his memoir The Ghetto Fights, written in 1945 which recorded the history of the brutal Nazi occupation of Warsaw and the individual and collective stories of those who made the ghetto uprising.
Against those who have sought to appropriate the memory of the uprising for Jewish nationalist purposes, we remember Edelman’s own words:
“We fought for dignity and freedom, not for a territory nor for a national identity.”
We stand with his call for Jews today to take the side of social justice in any conflicts: “Always with the oppressed, never with the oppressors!”
The commemoration of the ghetto uprising in Poland this year takes place under the shadow of a horrifying increase in racist and fascist activity fuelled by its governing party, Law and Justice, that is openly engaging in antisemitism and Holocaust revisionism. We are horrified that the Conservative Government in Britain is this party’s main ally in the European Conservatives and Reformists Group, and we call on all democrats and anti-racists to expose and challenge this collusion.
We extend our solidarity to anti-racists and anti-fascists, and fighters for social justice in Poland, and to minority communities under attack, including Jews who are rebuilding lives there in an increasingly hostile environment. In doing so we echo the message smuggled by the fighters in the ghetto to the Polish socialist underground which said, “It is a fight for our freedom as well as yours”.
Posted: 18 April 2018