SOURCE: Huffington Post
by Alan Singer
Another Way to Teach about the European Holocaust
Boruch Spiegel, one of the last surviving fighters of the Warsaw ghetto uprising of 1943, in which a vastly outgunned band of 750 young Jews held off German soldiers for more than a month with crude arms and Molotov cocktails, died on May 9 in Montreal. He was 93.His death was confirmed by his son, Julius, a retired parks commissioner of Brooklyn. Mr. Spiegel lived in Montreal.The Warsaw ghetto uprising has been regarded as the signal episode of resistance to the Nazi plan to exterminate the Jews. The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum calls it the first armed urban rebellion in German-occupied Europe.As a young man, Mr. Spiegel was active in the leftist Jewish Labor Bund, and when it became clear that the Germans were not just deporting Jews but systematically killing them in death camps like Treblinka, Bundists joined with other left-wing groups to form the Jewish Combat Organization, known by its Polish acronym ZOB....
A small part of the chasm in Polish-Jewish relations closed on Friday, when, to commemorate the 1943 Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, alarm signals sounded across the city. Until now, sirens have sounded on August 1, in honor of the fighters of the city-wide Warsaw Uprising in 1944.These alarms mark the moment when an important part of Jewish history—when a small group in the Warsaw Ghetto opted to choose their own deaths, to resist rather than go to the gas chambers—becomes a part of the narrative of Polish history.Often the two narratives, of Jewish suffering and of Polish suffering at the hands of the Nazis, run along parallel lines never to meet.Simcha Rotem, who was honored by Polish President Bronislaw Komorowski with the Grand Cross of the Polonia Restituta order Friday, is now one of only three still living ghetto insurgents....
Marci Shore, an associate professor of history at Yale University, is the author of “The Taste of Ashes: The Afterlife of Totalitarianism in Eastern Europe.”SEVENTY years ago today, a group of young men and women fired the shots that began the largest single act of Jewish resistance during the Holocaust.The Warsaw Ghetto uprising is rightly commemorated — through books, memoirs and movies — as an extraordinary act of courage in the face of near-certain death. Those who fought in the ghetto provide the iconic image of heroism, and an antidote to images of Jews being led to the gas chambers.The uprising was indeed extraordinary. But the manner in which it has been remembered over the years — in Communist Poland, in the West and in Israel — says more about the use of history for contemporary purposes than the uprising itself. The true nature of the uprising cannot be understood through its postwar commemorations but only through its wartime origins....
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