We will not die on our knees

Said by an inhabitant of the Warsaw ghetto, as recorded by Marek Edelman, who was there and one of those who lead the uprising.

The jews in the ghetto of Warsaw knew that they would die soon. They knew that resistance would not help. They had few weapons, some of them self-made, some of them smuggled inside. It would never be enough to save them, to change the situation, to actually help. But though they were the weaker party, they did do harm to the Germans. They were not as weak as the German believed and killed quite a few. In the end many died there during the rising, others were deported. The ghetto vanished. But like Anna Heilman said: ” I don’t think it was a question at that point of Jews fighting Germans. It was us not going without resistance.”

I find that so touching. Can you imagine being strong enough to do this? Would you still fight if you knew you would die anyway? Maybe that’s even the best trigger to actually fight. Still my admiration for these people is immense. Dignity is the last thing they can take from you. Whatever happens, if you are strong enough you can still maintain your dignity and decide that you will not let yourself be killed without fighting. Never just give in.

I’m currently writing a paper on the Polish resistance in the Warsaw ghetto, which is incredibly interesting and inspiring as well. But while reading about this, I also realized that we’re always close to doing this again. I don’t know if you heard about the Wilders thing in the Netherlands? He’s the radical kind of politicians and he actually screamed in front of many people: “Do we want more or less Moroccans?” To which the people screamed back: “Less! Less!” This is so dangerous. It’s easy to say one group of people is bad, but this is pure racism. Even if there are many Moroccans in the Netherlands who end up in prison, or should belong there – I don’t know if this is the case! – then it is still racism. You cannot state that they are all bad. Generalizing is the worst thing you can do. People will end up not giving any Moroccan a chance because ‘they’re all bad’. When not given a chance, what should these people do? Eventually they will have no more choice to prove that they are okay people. And surely there will be bad people amongst them, just like there are bad people amongst the Dutch people.

We should be all aware of the danger of this kind of things. We should never let something like World War 2 happen again. There will only be things to regret afterwards. So hopefully all these people who screamed ‘Less! Less!’ will realize that they are ignoring an important part of the Moroccans living there who are actually good, hard-working people. Hopefully we will not end up generalizing and blaming one scapegoat for all the problems. If there are problems, do something about it in a constructive way instead of blaming and screaming.

And hopefully we will all find the courage to stand up when it’s needed, even when it’s a minor thing happening. We should all have more courage to do the right thing sometimes. And remember: we should not die on our knees!


More Polish history here.

Leave a comment


  1. The more you read about the Holocaust, the more depressing it gets.

    People are cunts.

    • That’s true… But on the other hand it’s really heartwarming to read the stories of the people who helped others or who were able to fight back.
      But unfortunately the abd side mostly takes over eventually…

  2. runningonsober

     /  April 4, 2014

    I love your introduction. Courage and conviction in the face of certain defeat — living and standing for something — so admirable.

    I didn’t know about Wilders. I have unplugged from most of the news recently, so I have either missed it or the US media hasn’t latched on yet. Most likely the latter.

    • It is!

      Of course it was a big thing here, but maybe it didn’t even reach the rest of Europe. It’s a shame for the Netherlands as well, so I think they’re quite happy if only little people know about it…

  3. Sadly, it happens again and again in varying degrees.
    South Africa institutionalized Apartheid in 1948, i think, just a few years after the Holocaust.
    There have been tribal genocides throughout Africa, recently too, like Rwanda and Darfur.

    Individually, people aren’t that bad. Get them together in a mob, and you’d better bring some high caliber protection.

    Until people actually absorb the lesson you give here, at least.

    • We never learn. It seems like we don’t dare to face the facts, the truth, and that we don’t want to put our own lives in danger in order to do the right thing. Which of course is a logical choice, but sometimes, I believe we need the kind of people who make us face this all.

      People are good as long as they get enough to eat and drink. Take away such a thing or give them a taste of power and they become terrible…

      I hope I can somehow help to keep this memory alive so that we won’t make the same mistakes again!

  4. Addie

     /  April 4, 2014

    Read MILA 18.

    It’s brilliant.

  5. maurnas

     /  April 6, 2014

    I have one distant cousin still in Europe. My entire family tree is gone. Holocaust deniers…I don’t even know what to say to them.

    • That’s so sad… Sorry to hear.
      Those people know very well that it is real. They just try to get what they want by using this kind of method. Which is something we should all look down on.

  6. I’m actually experiencing some shame for this man that is from my country. I’ve heard stories about a little, Morrocan girl, who asked her mommy: “Mom, am I still allowed to go to ballet class? Or do they want less Morrocans there too..?”
    This struck me in the gut. Brrrr… why does history keep repeating itsself? It’s sad.

    • Ah yes, I’ve heard a similar story as well. History keeps repeating itself because there are these short sighted people who cannot see how stupid they are. They just don’t want to see what they are really doing.
      Let’s hope that they’ll become smart before it’s too late.

      • Jup, very true…. But on the other hand I feel like this Mr Wilders is getting the reaction he wants. He is always full of talk and lacks action, so this is again something he’s doing to stir up the nation and it seems to be working this time..

      • Well, probably, I just don’t really see the point of upsetting the nation… Which is what he has done I believe.

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