Jewish Resistance to Fascism


Jewish Partisans in Eastern Europe:
A Voice from the Forest by Nahum Kohn (1980): 244 pages,

Fire without Smoke by Florian Mayevski (2001): 177 pages,

The Witch Doctor by Michael Temchin (1983)
: 163 pages,

The Warsaw Ghetto Uprising:

The Ghetto Fights by Marek Edelman (1945): 79 pages, an account of the heroic armed struggle of Jewish groups and individuals inside the Warsaw Ghetto against the fascist, occupying Nazi murderers. Marek Edelman was the highest leader of the ŻOB (The Jewish Combat Organization, the organization which united and directed Jewish armed resistance to the Nazis inside the Warsaw Ghetto) to survive the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising. He was a member of the Jewish Labor Bund in Poland before and during the war, and later was a prominent supporter of the Solidarnosc movement against the stalinist government of Poland. The Jewish Labor Bund was a socialist, anti-zionist group and they advocated staying in Poland and fighting for socialism and equality. Edelman himself was radically anti-zionist, and viewed himself as a Polish Jew who would thus obviously stay in his home country Poland, which he did after WWII. Edelman was also a supporter of Palestinian armed resistance to Zionist occupation, which he said was the same type of struggle he and the ŻOB had fought in the Warsaw Ghetto. The book, though short, provides a detailed account of the different stages of resistance within the Warsaw Ghetto. First Edelman describes both the normal political activity which took place during the early life of the Ghetto, and the simultaneous mass apathy and denial of the Jews living there. The Jewish Labor Bund, for it's part, was the first to advocate armed resistance to the fascist scum and tried to convince others through it's underground press (the activities of which is detailed very well in the book) and by trying to convince other Jewish groups in the Ghetto of the necessity of armed resistance. Edelman also shows the true solidarity displayed by the non-Jewish Polish resistance groups which were active outside the Warsaw Ghetto: they were the major providers of weapons to the ŻOB, and they also helped some people to escape from the Ghetto. It should be pointed out that the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising was one of the first instances of organized armed resistance to the Nazis in Poland, and by far the largest and strongest to that point. The second stage which Edelman describes is the mass armed resistance to the Nazis which was started in the beginning of 1943. Edelman describes how the Nazis would run away anytime they came up against organized resistance, when the jewish fighters normally only had a variety of improvised weapons like molotov cocktails and old guns with limited ammunition. Describing the major engagements of the resistance, Edelman shows the heroism and strength of people refusing to accept death passively, but who instead choose to die fighting against their oppressors. This book is a passionate and realistic argument for armed resistance in the face of mass murder and occupation, which should still be a lesson to us that peaceful means are useless and criminal when utilized against well-armed murderers.

Shielding the Flame by Hannah Krall with Marek Edelman (1977): 117 pages, a contiuation in some ways of Edelman's book The Ghetto Fights written in 1945, this book was written by Hannah Krall a Polish journalist with an interesting and unique way of writing. Whereas The Ghetto Fights is more of a straight forward report on the events that unfolded before and during the Warsaw Ghetto uprising, this book focuses on more personal subjects such as how Edelman was affected by his time in the Ghetto. Edelman was very open and honest in this book and talks of many things which others normally pass over because they are more daily and emotional aspects of life in the Ghetto, or else because they think people will misunderstand. The book also details briefly Edelman's life after WWII. A true tribute to the resistance of the Jews in the Warsaw Ghetto as well as to the brave and heroic Jews in the Ghetto who, before the uprising, bravely resisted the fascist slaughter in any way they could.

Five Years in the Warsaw Ghetto by Bernard Goldstein: 239 pages,

On Both Sides of the Wall by Vladka Meed (1948): 295 pages,