Krakow Ghetto--Terrorists

Today's Tribune had a story about the 65th anniversary of the liquidation of the Krakow ghetto. Of course Schindler was brought into it, and why not? He did save Jews; just because something was in a movie doesn't mean it isn't true. After the ghetto was emptied out, some of the Jewish partisans were able to escape into the Wisnicz Forest, and they continued fighting until the autumn of 1943.

The Tribune (via wire service) does not tell us about the partisans because Spielberg did not make a movie about them. And they did not have the power of a German industrialist to save lives by providing work that helped the Nazi war effort. The Jewish fighters were, in effect, terrorists. In Poland's Ghettos At War, a book that's sympathetic to the Jewish Underground fighters, author Alfred Katz writes of the "campaign of terror" in 1942 and 1943 in Krakow, in which fighters killed Gestapo agents, and "liquidat[ed several German employees." Later they attacked a railroad station, killing dozens of Germans. In reprisal, the Germans killed 22 Jews.

I say it this way even though if I hope I would have had the courage to fight with the Jewish Underground. In the early 1980s I was a pacifist but I changed my mind (starting from the moment I read about Jewish self-defense against pogroms). Everyone who fights has a rationale. And everyone who kills can be judged. Are all murders equal? No. I'm sure the Nazis would have claimed self-defense, against the Jewish-Bolshevik scourge about to take over the world.

One of the people killed in Krakow was Mordechai Gebirtig, a famous poet and songwriter, was murdered in Krakow in 1942. His most famous song is Es Brent, It's burning, written in 1938 about a pogrom in Przytk, Poland. The song became like an anthem for the Jewish Underground.