A Letter From The Deputy Commandant of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising

Apr 30th, 2011 by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Holidays
In 1983, the Polish authorities, planning an official observance of the 40th anniversary of the Warsaw ghetto uprising, invited Marek Edelman to join the honorary sponsoring committee. Edelman, a member of the Jewish Socialist Bund since his youth, had been the deputy commandant in the Warsaw ghetto uprising. The only one of his comrades, Bundists and Zionists, still remaining in Poland. For the last 30 years he has been a physician in Lodz. He had never joined the Communist Party and never lent his name in support of the regime. Nor was he daunted, in 1983, by the government’s effort to co-opt him for its official observance. He rejected the invitation and distributed his statement as an open letter:

“40 years ago we fought not only for our lives, but for life in dignity and freedom. To observe our anniversary here, where enslavement and humiliation are now the lot of the entire society, where words and gestures have become nothing but lies, would betray the spirit of our struggle. It would mean participating in something totally the opposite. It would be an act of cynicism and contempt.

I shall not be a party to this, nor can I condone the participation of others, regardless of where they come from and whom they speak for.

The true memory of the victims and heroes, of the eternal human striving for truth and freedom, will be preserved in the silence of graves and hearts, are far from manipulated commemorations. (“Poles, Jews and History” by Prof. Lucy S. Dawidowicz)”

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