On this day in 1943: Treblinka uprising

Treblinka holocaust memorial, Nachlat Yitschak...

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From On this deity:

“Resistance to tyranny is a man’s highest ideal,” wrote Emma Goldman. But when humanity has been stripped of everything until the very concept of ‘ideals’ is but a bourgeois luxury – as in the case of the Jewish prisoners who planned and executed the Treblinka Revolt sixty-seven years ago on 2nd August 1943 – it is impossible to measure the superhuman fortitude required to resist the most inhuman of tyrants.

Those who were spared instantaneous extermination at Treblinka II were transferred to the forced labour camp at Treblinka I where between 700 and 1000 prisoner at any time, nearly all Jews, were given the unfeasible task of aiding the smooth running of the extermination process. Within this Hieronymus Bosch-like realisation of Hell, which in itself offered no guarantee of survival as labourers were selected every day for the gas chambers in exchange for stronger newly arrived prisoners, a dream of resistance and revenge was hatched. [READ THE REST]

Published in: on August 2, 2011 at 10:18 am  Leave a Comment  
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Amidah: Defiance

From a review of Yehuda Bauer’s The Death of the Shtetl, on the Jews of the Eastern European shtetlach (shtetls) in the Nazi age.

Partisans with PPsh SMGsSome were saved by erstwhile German Communists who had hidden their party membership and were in the Wehrmacht. Many young Jews saved themselves by fleeing into the forests and joining Soviet partisans, not all of whom welcomed them but needed them, if only temporarily, to kill Germans and their allies. (Soviet anti-Semitism would flourish after the war) Some few managed to live to tell the tale but recognized that it was merely chance that allowed them to live. All came close to death. “Some of them thought it had been the work of God, but most knew better: the same God, if he existed, had failed to protect their loved ones.”

From an interview with Bauer:

MO: In the book, you use the term “amida” to signify defiance, was there defiance in the shtetl?

YB: There certainly was defiance in many shtetlach — there was also a total collapse of society and the lack of any kind of defiance in other shtetlach. I tried to find out why there should have been just widely different types of reaction in communities that were geographically and socially so near to each other.

MO: How did the partisans fare?

YB: There were many, probably thousands, of Jews that were murdered by Soviet partisans, and there were thousands who survived because they joined the partisans. It is far from being a black-and-white story, and I tried to explain why that should have been so. Most people who survived owed their lives to either the few people who hid them and fed them, or to Soviet partisans. At least one major partisan commander (Vassily Chernishev [“Platon”]) was recognized as a “Righteous.” Some of the murderers among the partisans are also known by their names.

From another review:

Here is how Bauer describes the phenomenon of Amidah in his earlier book, Rethinking the Holocaust:

“The Hebrew term amidah…means literally “standing up against,” but that does not capture the deeper sense of the word. When I speak of resistance, I mean amidah, and that includes both armed and unarmed actions and excludes passive resistance, although that term is almost a non sequitur, because one cannot really resist passively. When one refuses to budge in the face of brutal force, one does not resist passively; one resists without using force, and that is not the same thing.

What does amidah include? It includes smuggling food into ghettos; mutual self-sacrifice within the family to avoid starvation or worse; cultural, educational, religious and political activities taken to strengthen morale; the work of doctors, nurses and educators to consciously maintain health and moral fiber to enable individual and group survival; and, of course, armed rebellion or the use of force (with bare hands or with “cold” weapons) against the Germans and their collaborators.(Rethinking the Holocaust, p. 120.)

The discussion in this book notes that, “Unarmed Amidah in the Kresy was limited by the impossible external circumstances, although it did exist in some places and was expressed in ways that were specific to the areas discussed here.” (And note how in this later book he capitalizes Amidah.)

More on this topic.

Published in: on April 15, 2010 at 3:05 pm  Comments (3)  
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A hero

Honouring a hero: Karl Pfeifer

Ashes, teabags, etcb

Leon Trotsky’s ashes stolen and baked into cookies.* Will as George Orwell, part 2. The battle of ideas in Cuba. Nestor Makhno and the Anarchist Black Cross. Maps on EP Thompson on William Morris. And on the last days of Max Jacobs (a propos of fascist desecrations at Drancy).Tony Allen at Speaker’s Corner. Theodore Dalrymple on the word “so”.

*UPDATE from Roland.