UPRISING IN THE WARSAW GHETTO by Ber Mark

UPRISING IN THE WARSAW GHETTO

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A noted Polish historian and founder of the Jewish Historical Institute in Warsaw, Mark develops an analysis of the Warsaw Ghetto uprising that supersedes run-of-the-mill notions of spontaneous rebellion or mystical Jewish spirit. As already indicated by such works as Holocaust by Nora Levin (1968), and very grudgingly in Lucy Dawidowicz's The War Against the Jews (see above), this was a working-class resistance. The call to fight came from the Anti-Fascist Bloc, a united front of Jewish groups formed by the Communist remnants who hadn't been killed off by the Stalin-supported fascist Pilsudski. The will to fight came from Jewish workers and revolutionaries: Mark names the martyred leaders with passion while he ignores the thousands who went to die obediently and also declines to discuss the Jewish deputies of the Gestapo, or the sadistic ghetto police, except when they were executed by the fighters. Mark points out that the uprising began when only a tenth of the ghetto population remained--a result of the Nazi decision to retain some skilled slave laborers to operate the brush factory, the arms plant, and other works. Only after the deportation of 300,000 in the summer of 1942 were the leftists able to break the arguments of other Jewish leaders that the Nazis must not be affronted by resistance. Mark knew the terrain well and shows how the defenders organized. Appeals to the London Poles in exile went unheeded, and other pleas to the world produced only a Soviet bombing raid on German positions. The documentary appendix shows the desperate effort to join with anti-Nazi forces outside the ghetto. The evidence is among the most extensive ever compiled. Mark's passion and research forbids any romanticism: these were real leaders--they knew they would not survive, they did what had to be done.

Pub Date: May 26th, 1975
Publisher: Schocken