mordechai anielewicz

today is Yom Hashoah

on this day, I would like to commemorate the extensive Jewish resistance that existed in almost every Nazi-occupied nation. from the streets of Warsaw, where Jewish resistance perplexed and bewildered the Nazis so much that a top German general lost his job because of it (and where we inadvertently inspired the Warsaw Uprising) to Sobibor, where Jews killed SS guards and burned a death camp to the ground, enraging the Nazis so much that they ordered the camp’s remains bulldozed into the ground, to Treblinka, where Jews escaped through the barbed wire into freedom and managed to survive to meet the Red Army the next year.

Jews did not go passively into the gas chambers. Abba Kovner, Mordechai Anielewicz, the Bielski brothers, and many others ensured that. 

the image will always live in my mind: during the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, a Jewish man armed with a pistol approached General Jurgen Stroop’s command group and opened fire. Stroop’s bodyguard filled him with bullets, but he continued shooting until he collapsed. as Stroop walked over to gloat, he spat on Stroop’s shoes.

Jews have always fought for freedom.


Celebrations of the third anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising. Warsaw, Poland, April & May* 1946.

*The third photo, taken in May, shows the commemoration of the death of Mordechai Anielewicz, the leader of the Jewish Combat Organization who was instrumental in the first act of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising by leading the first battle with a “dozen fighters with pistols,” preventing the majority of a second wave of Jews from being deported to extermination camps. 

Frumka Płotnicka (Pińsk, 1914 – August 3, 1943, Będzin) was a Polish Jewish resistance fighter during World War II; activist of the Jewish Fighting Organization (ŻOB) and a member of the Labour Zionist organization Dror. She was one of the organizers of self-defence in the Warsaw Ghetto and participant in the military preparations for the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising. Following the liquidation of the Ghetto, Płotnicka relocated to the Dąbrowa Basin in southern Poland. On the advice of Mordechai Anielewicz, Płotnicka organized a local chapter of ŻOB in Będzin with the active participation of Józef and Bolesław Kożuch as well as Cwi (Tzvi) Brandes and soon thereafter witnessed the murderous liquidation of both Sosnowiec and Będzin Ghettos by the German authorities.

During the final deportation action of early August 1943, the Jewish Combat Organization in Będzin staged an uprising against the Germans (as in nearby Sosnowiec). The Będzin-Sosnowiec ghetto uprising lasted for several days even though the SS broke through the main line of defense within hours. Frumka Płotnicka died on 3 August 1943 in one of the Będzin bunkers, fighting against the Germans. Posthumously, she received the Order of the Cross of Grunwald from the Polish Committee of National Liberation in April 1945.

Mordechai Anielewicz, 23 Year-old Commander of the Żydowska Organizacja Bojowa or ŻOB (Jewish Fighting Organization), Killed During the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising in May, 1943     Undated Photograph

“It is impossible to put into words what we have been through. What happened exceeded our boldest dreams. The Germans fled twice from the ghetto… My life’s dream has come true. Defense in the ghetto has become a fact. Armed Jewish resistance and revenge are actually happening.” Mordecai Anielewicz, on the outbreak of the Ghetto Uprising, in a dispatch to ŻOB member Yitzhak Zukerman, who was working on the “Aryan” side of the ghetto wall, trying to procure arms from the Polish nationalist underground Armia Krajowa and the communist underground Gwardia Ludowa in order to increase the very small supply of weapons possessed by the ŻOB.

Today is the 74th anniversary of the beginning of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising.

The most difficult struggle of all is the one within ourselves.
Let us not get accustomed and adjusted to these conditions.
The one who adjusts ceases to discriminate between good and evil.
He becomes a slave in body and soul. Whatever may happen to you,
remember always: Don’t adjust! Revolt against the reality!
—  Mordechai Anielewicz