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Jewish Resistance During the Holocaust

Something has fallen that is above our wildest dreams. The Germans escaped twice from the ghetto… I feel that great things are happening, and what we dared to do is of great value…

This was written in the Warsaw ghetto, during the very days of the uprising, on April 21, 1943, by Mordechai Anilevich, the commander of the Jewish fighting organization.

On Holocaust Remembrance Day, marking the Jewish resistance during the Holocaust and marking the 80th anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, we must stand together, citizens of the State of Israel – sons and daughters of all nationalities and religions – side by side, Shoulder to shoulder and back to back, holding one another’s hand, one hand clasping her sister and our fingers intertwined.

On this important day, we must stand together as humans, regardless of religion, race, or gender.

Together, we must all bow our heads in silence in memory of the victims of the Holocaust; Those who are no longer with us, but their spirit, their soul, their sigh, their voice, their love, their anger, and their cry still kiss our spirit today.

On this particular day, we must stand together and embrace those whom the hand of fate saved from the grip of the Nazi hand; Those who live in whispers among us, their eyes hurt, and their hearts drip with tears.

On this very day, we must stand together to strengthen those whose hearts are broken by the memory of their loved ones, day after day; It captures their spirit, moment by moment, and humbles their eyes forever.

I don’t know if the Holocaust would have happened one way or another, even if the good people had raised their voices, but it is possible that its dimensions would have been smaller if they had cried out against the Nazi tyranny.

In any case, I do know that while these voices remained silent when they were needed, there were Jews in the camps and ghettos, led by the Jews of the Warsaw Ghetto, who fought, with courage and heroism, to save thousands of Jews who fled from the cursed arm of the Nazi regime.

Admittedly, the actions of the resistance did not have the power to save multitudes of Jews, but it certainly instilled hope and faith in the hearts of the Jews of the camps and ghettos and, to a great extent, lifted their spirits at that time. The French-American Jewish writer Elie Wiesel expressed this well:

The Jewish soul was the target of the enemy. He sought to corrupt the soul, along with our physical destruction. But despite his destructive and corrupting power, the Jewish soul remained out of his reach.

Years have passed since the Nazi dictator placed his hand on the throne of tyranny; Years have passed since this cruel hand was broken; Years have passed, and the wound is still alive; Years have passed, and the memory is still bitter; Years have passed, and the pain still hovers over us; Years have passed, and the suffering of the survivors, their relatives, their loved ones and their enemies continues to seep into the cells of personal mourning, into the depths of human sadness, and the depths of global grief.

Precisely because of this, and specifically because many Holocaust deniers still live among us, it is necessary to cry out the cry of the mute, the cry of those who were with us and are no longer, The cry of those who were flesh and blood but perished due to the primal fear of the other that spread like a virus throughout Germany; The cry of those whose ashes were piled up between the hills of Auschwitz and the fields of Treblinka; the cry of those whose ashes were washed in the blood-red rivers of Poland; The cry of those whose voices have fallen silent but whose spirit still floats above our heads, and their heartbeats sound like an echo in our ears, crying out in their blood a message of humanism and faith in the steadfast spirit of man to create life even out of the deepest darkness of the sea.

As the poet Shaul Tschernihovsky said:

for a man of faith,

Because I still believe in you.

Because still, my sparrow soul aspires

I didn’t sell her for a golden calf,

Because I still believe in man too,

Also, in his spirit, a fierce spirit.

 

God willing, this atrocity will never happen again.

About the Author
Professor and Dean of the Law School, Academic College; Senior Researcher, Institute for National Security Studies, Tel-Aviv University; Research Fellow, International Institute for Counter-Terrorism, Reichman University; Research Fellow, Minerva Center for the Rule of Law under Extreme Conditions, Haifa University; and a Visiting Professor, University of California at Irvine (2014-2016). Graduate of leading law schools, i.e., Columbia University in the USA, Toronto University in Canada, and the Max Planck Institute in Germany. A former legal clerk at the Supreme Court of Israel (2003-2004).
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