Tuesday, September 28th | 22 Tishri 5782

May 5, 2016 5:21 pm

Head of Holocaust Research Group Reveals New Shocking Testimony From Warsaw Ghetto (INTERVIEW)

avatar by Lea Speyer

From the Depths founder Jonny Daniels. Photo: From the Depths.

From the Depths founder Jonny Daniels. Photo: From the Depths.

The oft-repeated notion that Jews went willingly to the slaughter during the Holocaust is completely unfounded, a Holocaust commemoration activist told The Algemeiner on Thursday, citing a number of documents which were recently uncovered by his organization detailing eye-witness accounts of Jews fighting back.

Jonny Daniels, founder and executive director of From the Depths, which works with Holocaust survivors, Jewish communities in Eastern Europe and the Polish government to preserve the memory of the Holocaust, said that one of several projects he is engaged in includes translating first hand accounts that have sat untouched for years in Poland’s governmental archives.

Daniels said his organization has “uncovered remarkable documentation that shows thousands of accounts of ‘fighting back’ from eyewitnesses” throughout the Holocaust, which he is working on cataloging, translating and publishing.

Two months ago, Daniels and his team came across an old communist-era document written in the late 1940s. The document turned out to be an eyewitness account from a Jewish male in his 20s of an emotional tale of survival from the Warsaw Ghetto “which happened almost 73 years ago to this very day,” Daniels said.

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Daniels shared the story publicly for the first time with The Algemeiner:

A group of Jewish boys blockaded themselves in a building inside the ghetto and were shooting at Nazis walking past. One of the little known ways the Nazis would enter the buildings of the ghetto was by using a human shield, a Jew. One of the survivors told of the time that while blockaded inside the room, they suddenly heard a knock on the door. Sitting quietly, the boys heard the sweet old voice of an elderly Jewish man calmly call out to them in beautiful, poetic Yiddish: ‘My children, the time has come. I am knocking on this door asking for safe passage. Alas, behind me stands a group of Amalek (evil people). Shoot me and then kill them. Better I die by the bullet of Jewish heroes then by the bullet of evil.’ The young men did just that. By giving his life, the old pious Jew saved those young Jews fighting, allowing them to live another day.

According to Daniels, “this story is perhaps the most harrowing of accounts we have ever uncovered.”

Other remarkable testimony uncovered by From the Depths shows how many Jews worked to ensure that their last moments on earth would not be spent in vain. In one case, eyewitness accounts tell of malnourished and downtrodden Jews getting off the trains at the Treblinka concentration camp after being told it would “be a better place,” Daniels related. “They realized that this would be their final stop and they fought back, taking sadly a futile stand before they were murdered.” In other cases, “Jewish women refused to be stripped naked, paraded and often raped by their Nazi tormentors. Instead, they would attack the Nazis and, in some accounts, even kill the Nazi bastards before they were murdered themselves.”

“One of the questions I always heard growing up and which was actually asked in one of my first interviews in Poland over two years ago is, ‘Why didn’t the Jews put up more of a fight? Why did they go like sheep to the slaughter?’ After a few years of living the subject, speaking with survivors, saviors and eyewitnesses, I can unequivocally say that the Jews fought back,” Daniels said.

The uncovering of these stories of heroism and survival by From the Depths highlights an important issue facing the future of Holocaust memorialization, Daniels said. “The same way we are losing survivors of the Holocaust, so too are eyewitnesses passing away at a rapid rate,” he said. “We have a handful of years left to interview and speak to these people before it is too late.”  

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