Hunted in Warsaw: A Memoir of Resistance and Survival in the Holocaust

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An acquaintance among his fellow prisoners advised the year-old to tell Nazi guards who asked about his occupation that he was a bricklayer. At other Nazi camps, many prisoners were forced to do labor before being killed, but nearly all of those brought to Treblinka were immediately gassed to death. Samuel Willenberg lights a candle in front of the monument of Treblinka. A few of the youngest, strongest male prisoners like Willenberg were selected to perform maintenance work at Treblinka. In this role, they were forced to support and even participate in the murders of their fellow prisoners.

In an interview with the BBC in , Willenberg said his job was to sort through the belongings of the prisoners who had been sent to the gas chambers. By April , transports had mostly stopped arriving at Treblinka, and the Nazis had begun digging up the bodies of the prisoners who had been killed and burning them on huge pyres.

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Knowing that once this work was completed they would be killed, Willenberg and other camp survivors hatched plans for a revolt. On August 2, using a copied key to the armory, some prisoners stole weapons, set the camp ablaze and fled for the woods. In later interviews, Willenberg described his own experiences during the escape.

A story of loss, fear and survival, it is also a remarkable portrait of a child's capacity to love and endure. Summoned with her mother to Gestapo headquarters in , 14 year old Cordelia was given the terrible choice: to acknowledge her secret Jewish heritage and suffer the consequences or to see her mother charged with treason.

The true story of the love between a mother and daughter. Paintings, drawings, and text of a young girl growing up takes the reader through a time before, during and after the war. All ages. Survivor's children live in the everyday world and also in their father's nightmare world of the camps. The tragedy of the Holocaust is passed down from parent to child through the bond of love. A biography of a young German woman who defied the Nazis by helping to restore human rights and dignity to those she befriended. Friedman, Ina R. Boston: Houghton-Mifflin, Nonfiction book dealing with the Nazi tactics against the non-Jews and factions they found dangerous, such as the Church.

Actual pictures taken by Grossman who was interned in the Lodz ghetto before he died.


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Holliday, Laurel. New York: Pocket Books, An anthology of diaries written by children across Nazi-occupied Europe and in England. Twenty three young people, ages ten through eighteen, recount in vivid detail the horrors they lived through, day after day. Kerr, Judith. When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit. A nine year old in doesn't understand what is happening when her father disappears and the rest of the family is left to try to escape to Switzerland.

Factual E, MS. A stark and sometimes unsettling story of a Hungarian teenager's tale of survival as he hides from the Nazis. Memoir of her three years in Nazi concentration camps. Includes updated epilogue from edition. Documentary won an Oscar in Although she doesn't know it, her grandmother is Jewish and her parents teach her to pretend she is a loyal German. True story of a survivor's attempt to lead war orphans out of Poland to a refuge in Israel. The fictional Mischa shares his life in the Warsaw ghetto from in the orphanage of Janusz Korczak.

Based on actual documents. Leitner, Isabella. Fragments of Isabella: A Memoir of Auschwitz. New York: Crowell, A memoir of Auschwitz. The Katz family are sent to Auschwitz. Seven of them would stand before Dr. Not all of Isabella's family would survive.

Factual HS. Sixty oral testimonies from the concentration camp survivors, partisans, those in hiding, and liberators. Ten year old Annemarie Johansen and her best friend Ellen Rosen often think about life before the war. But it's now and Annemarie must find the strength and courage to save her best friend's life. Two boys who are longtime concentration camp survivors finally escape a "death train" and struggle to maintain their freedom and regain their dignity.

Twenty three hidden children give testimony about their experiences during the war. Very powerful vignettes. Moreover, it is widely acknowledged that Jewish and Polish standards were flown over the ZZW headquarters, arousing the ire of the Germans and the admiration of many of the Polish bystanders. In the German accounts the ZZW fighters generally have no political identification, the Germans having had limited knowledge of the various ideological distinctions among the Jewish insurgents.

Significantly, in December , little more than half a year after the destruction of the ghetto and shortly before his own death, the great historian of the ghetto, Emmanuel Ringelblum, in correspondence with Adolf Berman, a leader of the left-wing Po'ale Zion and founder of the Anti-Fascist Bloc in the ghetto, wrote: "And why is there no information on the ZZW in the history. They must leave an imprint, even if in our eyes, they are unsympathetic. He was clearly impressed by the group's substantial arsenal and supply of German uniforms, "all of which was used to the full in the April 'action.

Nevertheless, his observation went unheeded. It did not then, or later, prompt a concerted search.

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Babe in arms: The tale of a teenaged resistance fighter | The Times of Israel

Over the years, political considerations often trumped the objective writing of history. Gutman, who has often been criticized by Revisionists for failing to devote more attention to the ZZW, conceded that point:. It must also be emphasized that ongoing political and ideological feuds have led to discrepancies in the reconstruction of the historical picture. The most outstanding example is the neglect, almost to the point of total omission, of the Jewish Military Organization ZZW founded by the Revisionists and members of the Betar in the Warsaw Ghetto, which took an active part in the fighting during the revolt This is the most obvious but by no means the only case in which tendentious political considerations have led to the distortion of the true picture, the revision of accounts, and even resort to fabrication in an attempt to write rival camps out of history while magnifying the contribution of one's own But Gutman was quick to point out the dangers of overcompensation: "As a result, the writers who wished to redress the balance by extolling the Betar force largely drew upon dubious testimonies and descriptions that lacked any firm historical foundation.

This became especially evident after the collapse of Communism when scholars were finally granted unfettered access to archival material in Poland. In subsequent years, and despite the vast number of publications on various aspects of the Shoah, and in particular on the Warsaw Ghetto, only a scant literature arose on the ZZW, most of it not the work of trained historians but of journalists and publicists.

There was no rush by historians to interview surviving ZZW members, most of whom were not commanding figures in the Revisionist underground but mainly simple insurgents.

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Only Dawid Wdowinski's testimony was regarded as a reliable source, and his contention that the ZZW arose only in the latter half of was and continues to be widely cited as proof that the Revisionist underground organization could not have come into being before that time, and hence did not predate the establishment of the ZOB as is sometimes claimed.

The fact is that the great majority of the ZZW fighters perished in the fighting or immediately afterward on the Aryan side. With notable exceptions, those who did survive the fighting in which the ZZW was engaged, or at least claim they did, left little in the way of written documentation. The memoirs of those who did write them reveal the influence of postwar historical texts, and in some instances even a considerable degree of fantasy. Meanwhile, in Communist Poland, over the years a very different set of circumstances produced two distinct versions of the ghetto uprising that influenced the writing of history outside its borders.

On the one hand, it was natural that the story of the uprising would reflect the prevailing Weltanschauung : the role of the Zionists was downplayed in favor of the Bund and, of course, the Communists. Marek Edelman, the last surviving ZOB commander who remained in Poland, chose to focus on the deeds of his Bund comrades and has continued to do so until the present day.

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On the other hand, after , when the nationalist elements in the Polish Communist Party gained the upper hand, there was a sudden shift toward glorifying hitherto discredited underground organizations, most notably the Home Army. This affected the approach to the ghetto uprising as well: the Zionist youth movements could now receive a greater measure of glory, as could the ZZW. Subsequent editions of the works on the uprising by Bernard Mark, the director of the Jewish Historical Institute in Warsaw, reflect the changes in the political climate.

Since that time, the history of the ZZW has been clouded by this small and enigmatic cadre of Poles who presented themselves as the heroic patrons of the Revisionist underground and whose accounts serve as the basic source material of much of what has been written on the organization. Significantly, that testimony was corroborated by Kazimierz Majdanowski-Mendelson, a Jew who remained in Poland, who in much of the literature on the ZZW is identified as its only surviving commander.

The most influential of the Poles was Henryk Iwanski who, together with his wife Wiktoria, was later honored by Yad Vashem as a Righteous Gentile, and whose story eventually found its way to the West, including even the pages of the New York Times. However, declassified secret-police documents now housed in the Institute of National Remembrance indicate that these Poles were associated to some degree with security organs, and were regularly utilized to implement the agenda of the Interior Ministry. Clearly, and perhaps most blatantly with respect to Bednarczyk, much of what they wrote lies in the realm of confabulation and must be treated with the utmost circumspection.

In , amid the notorious witch-hunt directed against the Jewish remnant in Poland and even in earlier years , an effort was made to refute the Western charges of Polish anti-Semitism by publicizing the story of the "brotherhood of arms" between the KB and the ZZW. The same Polish Communist newspapers that printed anti-Semitic diatribes offered a spate of interviews with, and testimony by, the "heroes of the KB.

In the case of Bednarczyk, and especially in his later years, his increasingly vitriolic writings contained wild charges about widespread Jewish collaboration with the Germans, and assertions about the extraordinary scope of Polish assistance to the ghetto. Significantly, of the KB group only he and his family members were recognized by Yad Vashem as "Righteous among the Nations. Their accounts are also cited in the few other books and articles on the uprising that give extensive coverage to the ZZW.

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Thanks to this coverage, over the years Iwanski's story especially garnered considerable sympathy in Jewish circles, and the American journalist Dan Kurzman even contacted Prime Minister Menachem Begin about the need to aid this "heroic Pole" who lived in modest circumstances. Iwanski also served as an informant on happenings at the Jewish Historical Institute. The Polish testimonies on the ZZW still await further elucidation.

However, their provenance and the many inconsistencies that appear in them, already cast great doubt on their credibility. A journalist and historian, he wrote on the ZZW in the conservative Warsaw daily Rzezpospolita , heavily relying on the testimony of Iwanski, Bednarczyk, and others. He called for a revision of the existing narrative of the ghetto uprising to give greater emphasis to the ZZW and especially its purported ties with the KB.

According to the Polish-born, German Jewish historian Arno Lustiger, who cannot be suspected of partisan political considerations:. After , many books, documents, films, and radio broadcasts about the uprising in the Warsaw Ghetto were produced and published.

Survival of the Closest: Gender and Agency in Holocaust Resistance

In nearly all publications only one resistance organization is portrayed with glory and precision - the [ZOB]. Whoever knows the enormous body of literature does not realize that another fighting organization existed in the Warsaw Ghetto - the [ZZW]. Until the present day, few historians have treated it in their research. Also in Israel, almost all the institutes and archives that deal with the Holocaust and the resistance ignore it.

The reason for this blank passage in the history books is ideological in nature. Certainly there is a degree of truth in that contention, which gained wide credence in Revisionist circles. Most scholars, however, have refused to wholeheartedly endorse it.

The Great Deportation in the Warsaw Ghetto - Abraham Lewin’s Diary

At least for the first decades after the war, the Israeli political and social ambience was largely determined by those who were ideologically closer to the ZOB than the ZZW. Undoubtedly, the ruling Labor movement used its control over national institutions to promote the story of those with whom it sympathized. Nevertheless, despite their occasional and heartfelt expressions of bitterness, the leaders of the Revisionist movement hardly strove to rectify this situation.

Whereas the ZOB veterans were the subject of intensive interviews and public glorification, the Revisionists made little effort to tell the story of ZZW.


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  • Instead they were struggling to secure the place of their own underground movement, the Irgun Tzvai Leumi, in the story of resistance to British rule in Palestine. Survivors of the ZZW have complained that even their own party leaders demonstrated little interest in their role in the ghetto uprising.

    In some respects, in popularizing their account, the ZOB fighters had another advantage - a significant head start. In Palestine, immediately after the war, the movements from which the ZOB arose could operate legally and were free to conduct their research and publicistic activities. Much of the Revisionist movement was operated underground and most of its leaders were in hiding. With the establishment of the state of Israel, those who could tell the story did not have the resources to do so. Most of the ZZW survivors did not go into politics, and certainly did not engage in historical writing and research; none of them had the stature of Lubetkin or Zuckerman.

    As a result, their story remained largely untold. Not until twenty years after the uprising, when the narrative had already been embedded in public consciousness, did the earliest book-length memoir from a ZZW perspective appear. Why were the Israeli heirs to the Revisionist legacy so lax in creating their own chronicle of the Warsaw Ghetto uprising, even after they won political power in ?

    One possible reason was that Begin, who before the war was leader of the Revisionist youth movement Betar, did not himself participate in the struggle in Poland. Along with other Revisionist activists, he left Warsaw at the outbreak of the war and sought safety in the east, fleeing the advancing German forces in the hope of ultimately reaching Palestine.

    Begin wound up, however, in Vilna, where he was arrested by the Soviets after they occupied Lithuania. His correspondence indicates that he was plagued by guilt for leaving Warsaw and not returning there as did the leaders of other youth movements. The results of this neglect, whether deliberate or inadvertent, are not far to seek. When the first integrative works on the Final Solution appeared, they naturally relied mainly on earlier published and unpublished accounts of the ghetto uprising, including interviews or correspondence of people identified as leaders of the revolt.

    This, inadvertently, also reinforced the early survivor accounts and even granted them the status of historical canon. For example, among the general works on the destruction of European Jewry, Lucy Dawidowicz's The War against the Jews was considered one of the most outstanding in its time, the s. Describing political life in German-occupied Poland, she wrote:. Only the left-wing parties and the socialist Zionist youth movements succeeded in maintaining their primary political character and on transforming their prewar apparatus - or its remnants - into functioning underground organizations.

    This, of course, precluded the possibility of any serious efforts by the Revisionists to engage in significant underground activity. Regarding the ZZW, Dawidowicz maintained:.