70 Years Later, Recalling the First Battle Against the Nazis in the Warsaw Ghetto

January 17, 2013 2:15 am 1 comment

Crowd near the wall of the Warsaw Ghetto. Photo: courtesy of The David S. Wyman Institute for Holocaust Studies.

Seventy years ago this month, the Nazis began their second deportation of the Jews from the Warsaw Ghetto. In response, on Jan. 18, 1943, the first organized and armed Jewish/Zionist resistance action in the Ghetto was launched.

The fighters of the ZZW and ZOB drove the Nazis from the Ghetto. Months later, on April 19, 1943, on the eve of Passover, the Nazi SS and police units entered the Ghetto and were attacked by organized Jewish partisans yet again.

There were two separate armed resistance organizations in the ghetto—the ZZW and ZOB. The most famous Jewish leader of armed resistance is Mordechai Anielewicz, commander of the ZOB (Jewish Fighting Organization) during the uprising. The ZOB was an alliance of several Zionist and non-Zionist youth groups. Anielewicz received paramilitary training in Betar as a young teenager and left Betar before the war. The ZOB had a socialist orientation, and Betar as an organization did not participate in it, in part because of politics.

ZZW, the Jewish Military Organization, was commanded and manned by Betar members and their allies. Betar’s fighters in the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising have been largely written out of history. Moshe Arens, Israel’s former defense minister and a Betar alum, recently wrote a yet-to-be published book on Betar’s heroic battle against the S.S. in the ghetto. Flags Over the Warsaw Ghetto was released by Gefen Publishing in November 2011. That book and articles by Arens about the ZZW that were published in Yad Vashem Studies, Haaretz and The Jerusalem Post have helped to create a far more accurate account of the ZZW’s participation in the uprising, and did much to recall the heroism of Pawel Frenkel, ZZW’s commander.

The ZZW is now thought by historians to have been the better-equipped force in the Ghetto, and had procured machine guns. The ZOB, however, had more fighters.

The groups finally decided to coordinate their efforts in the last moments before the April 19 battle began. For 28 days, Jewish warriors fought the enemy and showed bravery not seen since the days of Bar Kochba’s uprising against Rome.

In the Vilna Ghetto, Betar leader Joseph Glazman was deputy commander of the United Partisan Organization, the only armed Jewish resistance group in that ghetto.

Betar was founded in 1923 by Ze’ev Jabotinsky (1880-1940), a figure who is too often forgotten today. Professor Daniel J. Elazar (1934-1999), a scholar of the Jewish political tradition, in the May 15, 1981 edition of the journal Sh’ma Elazar remarked about Jabotinsky’s legacy:

“Would there be serious public commemoration of the 100th birthday of Zev Jabotinsky had it not been for the fact that the Likud won the election in Israel in 1977? Not likely. For thirty years and more, Jabotinsky was one of those non-persons in Israel and the Jewish world… The ruling Labour Party made him a non-person for the same reasons that it portrayed Menachem Begin and his supporters as uncivilized fascists—it is easier to beat the opposition by painting it as irrelevant, intolerable and non-existent, until it is too strong to be dismissed.”

This year’s 70th anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising offers an opportunity to remind today’s Jews about Jabotinsky’s vital contributions. His words and ideas animated a generation of young Jews to resist the Nazis and fight for the freedom of Israel as soldiers in the Irgun and Stern Group/LEHI. The fact that the Islamofascists and the Iranians are so focused today on destroying Israel and the Jewish People in a future Holocaust, and at the same time denying the original Holocaust, demands a new look at Jabotinsky and his ideas.

Moshe Phillips is the president of the Philadelphia Chapter of Americans For a Safe Israel/AFSI. The chapter’s blog can be found here and Moshe tweets at @MoshePhillips.

1 Comment

  • Contrast this story with all of the Democratic politicians in the US who happen to be Jewish and are some of the leading voices for banning the same types of weapons that heroic Jews used in the Warsaw Ghetto to defend themselves and take revenge.

Leave a Reply

Please note: comments may be published in the Algemeiner print edition.


Current day month ye@r *

More...

  • Book Reviews Opinion Robert Gates’ Memoir is a Jaw-Dropping Read (REVIEW)

    Robert Gates’ Memoir is a Jaw-Dropping Read (REVIEW)

    Former Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates’s memoir follows the classic form, telling the story of his years at the Pentagon during the Bush and Obama administrations. He focuses on what he did and experienced personally as secretary, neither writing a broad policy treatise nor recounting the entire history of the administrations in which he served. In so doing, Gates provides penetrating insights about the inner workings of US national security decision-making. Had I been George W. Bush, I would [...]

    Read more →
  • Beliefs and concepts Book Reviews The Media, Israel, and Anti-Semitism (REVIEW)

    The Media, Israel, and Anti-Semitism (REVIEW)

    Pressing Israel: Media Bias Exposed from A-Z by Lee Bender and Jerome Verlin (Pavilion Press, Philadelphia, Pa. 2013) Sophocles said, “What people believe prevails over truth,” Pressing Israel: Media Bias Exposed from A-Z is ideal for the arm chair reader who would like a basic grasp of the terms used in the mainstream media’s presentation of the Arab-Israeli situation as is reported today. This is a book whose time has come. This is a book where the reader gains a [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Blogs William Shatner’s One Man Show Keeps Him in the Limelight (INTERVIEW)

    William Shatner’s One Man Show Keeps Him in the Limelight (INTERVIEW)

    JNS.org – On Thursday, audiences around the country can feel what it is like to be William Shatner, the Jewish actor best known for his portrayal of Captain James T. Kirk on “Star Trek.” Shatner’s one-man show “Shatner’s World”—which was on Broadway and toured Canada, Australia, and the United States—will be presented in nearly 700 movie theaters nationwide for one night only on April 24. Sponsored by Fathom Events and Priceline.com (for whom Shatner has famously served as a pitchman), [...]

    Read more →
  • Blogs Book Reviews The Origins of Palestinian Refugee Relief Efforts (REVIEW)

    The Origins of Palestinian Refugee Relief Efforts (REVIEW)

    Romirowsky and Joffe’s book Religion, Politics and the Origins of Palestine Refugee Relief is an important volume for those interested in truly understanding the origins of the Palestinian refugee issue. Utilizing a treasure trove of newly released documents, the authors link UNRWA’s (United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine) origins to the Quakers/American Friends Service Committee (AFSC). For those readers who thought they knew most of the Middle East story, Romirowsky and Joffe’s version provides another twist. The authors meticulously [...]

    Read more →
  • Sports Israeli Soccer Team Faces Prospect of International Ban

    Israeli Soccer Team Faces Prospect of International Ban

    The Israel National soccer team could be facing a World Cup ban, and other soccer sanctions, unless it alleviates travel restrictions and increases field access for Palestinian players and coaches. The head of the Palestinian Football Association is pushing for international soccer’s governing body, the Federation of International Football Associations (FIFA), to issue a ban on Israel competing internationally, claiming Israel’s restrictive travel for Palestinians is equivalent to a form of oppression. “It’s not only the athletes,” Jibril Rajoub explains. [...]

    Read more →
  • Beliefs and concepts Book Reviews Jewish Author of ‘Eat to Live’ Dishes on Health Care, Nutrition, Disease Prevention

    Jewish Author of ‘Eat to Live’ Dishes on Health Care, Nutrition, Disease Prevention

    JNS.org – While the national debate on “Obamacare” rages on past the recent March 31 sign-up deadline, bestselling Jewish author Dr. Joel Fuhrman says the “current disease care model of what we call ‘health care’ cannot possibly be sustained.” “There is simply not enough money available to support a system in which the lion’s share of expenditures is devoted to acute care, with virtually nothing being spent on preventive medicine, i.e. health care,” Fuhrman says in an interview. “To make [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Jewish Identity ‘Tears of Color’ Art Exhibit Shows Struggles of Israelis With Eating Disorders

    ‘Tears of Color’ Art Exhibit Shows Struggles of Israelis With Eating Disorders

    JNS.org – “This is how I want to be—without fear. Independent. I want to be like a bird. I want to spread my wings.” So reads part of the description beneath one of the 30 paintings on display until the end of May at the ZOA House in Tel Aviv. The collection represents the first-ever art exhibit of its kind: an exhibit created entirely by Israelis in treatment for eating disorders. Dubbed “Tears of Color,” based on one of the [...]

    Read more →
  • Beliefs and concepts Book Reviews Overprotective or Loving? Daughters Reflect on Jewish Mothers in New Anthology

    Overprotective or Loving? Daughters Reflect on Jewish Mothers in New Anthology

    JNS.org – Rachel Ament noticed that she and her friends often shared humorous anecdotes that were typically variations on a theme: overprotective, worrying Jewish moms who smothered them with love. That included Ament’s own mother. “My mom is probably every Jewish stereotype scrunched into one,” the Washington, DC, resident tells JNS.org. “At the root of all these stereotypical, worrying, overprotective moms, is love.” A social media writer for Capital One, as well as a freelance writer, Ament decided about three years [...]

    Read more →



Sign up now to receive our regular news briefs.