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.

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The Blind Spots in History # 2: Hidden Holocaust Numbers

“The Holocaust(…) was the mass murder or genocide of approximately six million Jews during World War II, a programme of systematic state-sponsored murder by Nazi Germany, led by Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party, throughout German-occupied territory.”
That’s the definition Wikipedia gives. A few sentences later on, this is said: “Some scholars argue that the mass murder of the Romani and people with disabilities should be included in the definition, and some use the common noun “holocaust” to describe other Nazi mass murders, including those of Soviet prisoners of war, Polish and Soviet civilians, and homosexuals.”

During this post, I’ll use the term ‘Holocaust’ seeing it as the whole extermination of Jews, people with disabilities, gays, etc. Mostly (at least over here) the term is used in that way. People seem to define this often as the extermination of Jews ‘and gypsies, gays and so on’. But right here, we’re touching on the raw. It is most certainly true that many Jews were killed (the numbers are terrifying). But only a small amount of people seem to know all the numbers and all the facts.

You may have heard of the Polish citizens who put crosses in Auschwitz (I think it was over there). The world was somewhat shocked – they were putting crosses on a place where millions of Jews had died! Did no one wonder why they did so? There are reasons behind everything. These crosses were put there because the Polish people want the world to acknowledge the truth, the whole truth, and not just the truth we get to hear in history class.

This is the truth.
Six million Jews died.
Six million Polish citizens died.
Three million Polish Jews died. That’s nearly all of the Jews living in Poland at that point.
But there were also three million not-jewish Polish citizens who died. Which means that this isn’t just a jewish tragedy. But who knows about this numbers? I never heard of this before I went to university and had a class on Polish history. It’s like the world has buried this part. At some point people must have closed their eyes to this, so they only saw the jewish side of this story.

It was a tragedy as well for the Jews, of course. That’s pretty obvious. But after all, we shouldn’t keep our eyes closed because we pity them. Finkelstein, a Jew, wrote a book criticizing the exploitation of the Holocaust. He says it’s pretty impossible to say anything bad about the jewish faith or the Jews, because of what happened to them. But let us not forget that the entire Holocaust situation is too often used for jewish concerns. Who dares to say the Jews have no right to be in Israel? No one. I’m not saying they don’t have the right to live there, but they’re building a wall over there.

They’re building a wall and claiming the land.

We know what walls are. They don’t mean peace or fairness. Call me old-fashioned, but I think this is a bad thing. And the Holocaust should not be used as an excuse to do whatever you want. Do not exploit tragedies this way.

But above all I want to tell you that many not-jewish Polish citizens died as well during the Holocaust, and they are too often forgotten. The Polish people aren’t anti-Semitic because they’ve been putting crosses at the extermination camps. They just want to show the truth. They want the world to know the right numbers.

So spread the word.

I’ve got these numbers from my history class. If I’m mistaken somewhere, I sincerely apologise. Our professor knows a lot of Polish history and has done a lot of research over there. He knows what he is talking about, so any mistake is mine. The information on Finkelstein’s book comes from his as well, and from Wikipedia. I haven’t read it myself. I’m no expert at the Jewish concerns and Israel. But they are for sure building a wall.

You like Polish history? Michael Cargill is writing a story on the Warsaw Ghetto – an equally interesting and tragic part in Poland’s history. Plus: he has published paperback books! Just sayin’.