Letter: The Gaza Ghetto - Cosmonaut

Date: 2024-03-27T17:33:49+00:00

Location: cosmonautmag.com

The crime now taking place in Gaza is fast approaching its sixth month and there is no indication that it will end any time soon. The drama of the Palestinian people is nearing perhaps its final act, and the world does worse than nothing–it actively abets and aids their annihilation at the hands of the Jewish Reich. The Gaza Genocide has been compared to many crimes prior to it, but the parallel to the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising is stronger than any other. The eerie resemblance between these events is shown best in the final letters of Szmul Zygielbojm, a Polish Jewish Bundist who committed suicide in protest of the genocidal repression of the Ghetto, during which his own wife and son were murdered. These letters have not left my mind since I first read them some weeks ago. I present them to you here, with the request that you substitute the terms ‘Jews’ and ‘Poland’ with ‘Palestinians’ and ‘Gaza,’ respectively. I also present to you Waffen SS Commander Jurgen Stroop’s final report on the repression. These documents could have been written today with no change to their content, for which the entire world, especially the West, must be permanently ashamed. 

– R. Ashlar

––––––––––––––

The Last Letter From Szmul Zygielbojm, The Bund Representative With The Polish National Council In Exile

May 11, 1943

Mr. President, 

Mr. Prime Minister,

I am taking the liberty of addressing to you, Sirs, these my last words, and through you to the Polish Government and the people of Poland, and to the governments and people of the Allies, and to the conscience of the whole world: 

The latest news that has reached us from Poland makes it clear beyond any doubt that the Germans are now murdering the last remnants of the Jews in Poland with unbridled cruelty. Behind the walls of the ghetto the last act of this tragedy is now being played out. 

The responsibility for the crime of the murder of the whole Jewish nationality in Poland rests first of all on those who are carrying it out, but indirectly it falls also upon the whole of humanity, on the peoples of the Allied nations and on their governments, who up to this day have not taken any real steps to halt this crime. By looking on passively upon this murder of defenseless millions tortured children, women and men they have become partners to the responsibility. 

I am obliged to state that although the Polish Government contributed largely to the arousing of public opinion in the world, it still did not do enough. It did not do anything that was not routine, that might have been appropriate to the dimensions of the tragedy taking place in Poland. 

Of close to 3.5 million Polish Jews and about 700,000 Jews who have been deported to Poland from other countries, there were, according to the official figures of the Bund transmitted by the Representative of the Government, only 300,000 still alive in April of this year. And the murder continues without end. 

I cannot continue to live and to be silent while the remnants of Polish Jewry, whose representative I am, are being murdered. My comrades in the Warsaw ghetto fell with arms in their hands in the last heroic battle. I was not permitted to fall like them, together with them, but I belong with them, to their mass grave. 

By my death, I wish to give expression to my most profound protest against the inaction in which the world watches and permits the destruction of the Jewish people. 

I know that there is no great value to the life of a man, especially today. But since I did not succeed in achieving it in my lifetime, perhaps I shall be able by my death to contribute to the arousing from lethargy of those who could and must act in order that even now, perhaps at the last moment, the handful of Polish Jews who are still alive can be saved from certain destruction. 

My life belongs to the Jewish people of Poland, and therefore I hand it over to them now. I yearn that the remnant that has remained of the millions of Polish Jews may live to see liberation together with the Polish masses, and that it shall be permitted to breathe freely in Poland and in a world of freedom and socialistic justice, in compensation for the inhuman suffering and torture inflicted on them. And I believe that such a Poland will arise and such a world will come about. I am certain that the President and the Prime Minister will send out these words of mine to all those to whom they are addressed, and that the Polish Government will embark immediately on diplomatic action and explanation of the situation, in order to save the living remnant of the Polish Jews from destruction. 

I take leave of you with greetings, from everybody, and from everything that was dear to me and that I loved. 

–S. Zygielbojm

Farewell letter from Szmul Zygielbojm to brother Fajwel

11 May 1943 

It is a quiet April night in 1943. I am walking among people in the streets of London. In the passersby brushing against my clothing I see shadows from the Warsaw Ghetto. They are all around me… Why did I leave them? I was there with them. Why am I not there now, in their last struggle? Why am I not fighting by their side on the ruins of the wall in Warsaw? Why am I not lying crushed with them? What have I achieved? Have I saved even a single Jewish child from a terrifying death? I am standing, dejected, with a shattering sense of powerlessness… I cry into the dead of night: O, deaf world! Save them! Save them! In Poland they are murdering Jews – men, women, old people, children… 

All the joy in me is stamped out. A sadness, round like the full moon, wraps around me. I look at the tattered clouds, and in them, too, I see the shadows of barbed wire… I recognize the faces of my dear friends. 

No shadow passes me twice, it is a different one each time… My God… So many… the whole Jewish world… I have seen them fight, proud Jewish laborers and working people. I have seen them in the labor unions, at meetings, at popular parties and demonstrations on May 1. Today their shadows rush past me and through me as ragged clouds, each demanding a squaring of accounts… 

The sky is cold and silent like the people down below… Indifferent to our tragedy, each night they go to sleep in their warm beds. It slashes my heart and mind like a sword. Their life in agony, their death, is a disgrace for everyone in this world, and no one is ashamed? 

O if I had the strength, I would cleave the sky, shake the earth, and scream… It is already past midnight and I am still at my reckoning… A wind breaks out and the shadows keep speeding past… 

In Leicester Square a drunk man is singing a sad song. 

And I, a Jew, representative of the Jewish proletarian masses in Poland, am also singing my song: 

“Brother, we’ve made a pact for life and death…” 

My life belongs to the Jewish people in Poland and that is why I am giving it.

–S. Zygielbojm

––––––––––––––

Final Entries of the Stroop Report

To: The Higher SS and Police Fuehrer East, SS-Obergruppenfuehrer and General of Police Krueger-or deputy. Cracow 

Warsaw, May 16th, 1943.

Progress of large-scale operation on 16 May 1943, start 1000 hours. 

180 Jews, bandits, and subhumans were destroyed. The former Jewish quarter of Warsaw is no longer in existence. The large-scale action was terminated at 2015 hours by blowing up the Warsaw Synagogue. 

The measures to be taken with regard to the established banned areas were handed over to the commander of police battalion III/23, whom I instructed carefully. 

Total number of Jews dealt with 56,065, including both Jews caught and Jews whose extermination can be proved. 

No losses today. 

I will submit a final report to the Conference of SS Police Fuehrer on 18 May 1943. 

–Stroop, SS-Brigadefuehrer and Major general of Police.

To: The Higher SS and Police Fuehrer East, SS-Obergruppenfuehrer and General of Police Krueger-or deputy. Cracow 

Warsaw, May 24th, 1943.

I beg to reply to the above teletype message––

No. 1: 

Of the total of 56,065 caught, about 7,000 were destroyed in the former Ghetto during large-scale operation. 6,929 Jews were destroyed by transporting them to T.II; the sum total of Jews destroyed is therefore 13,929. Beyond the number of 56,065 an estimated number of 5 to 6,000 Jews were destroyed by being blown up or by perishing in the flames. 

No. 2: 

A total of 631 dug-outs were destroyed. 

No. 3 (booty): 

7 Polish rifles, 1 Russian rifle, 1 German rifle. 

59 pistols of various calibers. 

Several 100 hand grenades, including Polish and homemade ones. 

A few 100 incendiary bottles. 

Home-made explosive charges. 

Infernal machines with fuses. 

Large amounts of explosives, ammunition for all calibers, including machine-gun ammunition. 

With regard to the bag of arms one must take into consideration that in most cases we were not able to capture the arms themselves, since the Jews and bandits before they were captured threw them away into hideouts and holes which we could not discover or find. The smoke which we had developed in the dug-outs also prevented our men from discovering and capturing the arms. Since we had to blow up the dug-outs at once we were not in a position to search for the arms later on. 

The hand grenades, explosive charges, and incendiary bottles captured were used at once against the bandits. 

Furthermore, we captured: 

1,240 used uniform tunics (partly equipped with medal ribbons, Iron Cross, and East Medal). 

600 pairs of used trousers. 

Pieces of equipment, and German steel helmets. 

103 horses, 4 of them in the former Ghetto (hearse). 

We counted up to 23 May 1943: 

4.4 million Zloty. We captured moreover about 5 to 6 million Zloty, not yet counted, a considerable amount of foreign currency, including–

$14,300 in paper. $ 9,200 in gold. 

Large amounts of valuables (rings, chains, watches etc.) 

No. 4: 

With the exception of 8 buildings (police barracks, hospital and accommodations for working parties) the former Ghetto has been completely destroyed. Where blowing-up was not carried out, only partition walls are still standing. But the ruins still contain enormous amounts of bricks and scrap material which could be used.

–Stroop, SS-Brigadefuehrer and Major general of Police.

Liked it? Take a second to support Cosmonaut on Patreon! At Cosmonaut Magazine we strive to create a culture of open debate and discussion. Please write to us at CosmonautMagazine@gmail.com if you have any criticism or commentary you would like to have published in our letters section.