A great Jew from Warsaw .

Remembering Marek Edelman

By Shana Penn (external - login to view) · October 7, 2009
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Marek Edelman emboldened three postwar generations to rebuild Jewish life in Poland. (Mariusz Kubik / Creative Commons)
SAN FRANCISCO (JTA) -- Marek Edelman could be said to embody both Poland’s Holocaust history and its modern Jewish revival. The last surviving leader of Warsaw’s ghetto uprising, a man credited with “awakening” Poland’s postwar generation to its proud Jewish legacy, Edelman was a hero to Polish Jews and gentiles.
His death Oct. 2 in Warsaw at the age of 90 brings to a close his generation’s contributions to Poland’s democratic culture even as his influence reverberates throughout the country’s revitalized and growing Jewish community.
Edelman’s role in the Warsaw ghetto uprising elevated him to a place of honor among Jewish and gentile resisters to Nazi predations. A fighter of unusual skill and courage, this 24-year-old commander survived the 1943 uprising to participate in the valiant but doomed 1944 general Warsaw uprising against Nazi occupation.
Only 280,000 of Poland’s 3.5 million Jews survived the Holocaust and returned at the end of the war. By 1970 that number was down to 20,000 or 30,000, as many fled the communist regime. Edelman’s wife and children left Poland during the Cold War anti-Semitism of the late 1960s, but he stayed.
“Warsaw is my city. … Someone has to stay here with all those who died,” said the man who emboldened three postwar generations to rebuild Jewish life in Poland.
By the 1970s, few Poles knew anything about the Warsaw ghetto or its uprising. The communist government had made a point of systematically erasing Poland’s past, leaving the postwar generation with what it called "biale plamy" -- history’s blank spots.
Then in 1976, the anti-communist underground published a book-length interview with Edelman. Forty thousand copies sold with remarkable speed and the biale plamy began to fill in. Edelman became Poland’s only famous living Jew, and the postwar generation began to learn about its Jewish history.
“Marek awakened my generation,” Holocaust researcher Anka Grupinska told me in 1990.
In the late ‘70s, together with gentiles interested in Jewish culture, Jewish activists organized secret, underground groups -- “flying universities” -- that sought to supplant the negative stigma around Jewishness with positive meaning. They studied Jewish history, held Holocaust commemorations and practiced religious observances.
This reclamation of Jewish identity and culture became a meaningful expression of anti-communist resistance, and it imbued the 1980s Solidarity movement with respect for Poland’s Jewish heritage. Indeed, Edelman became an inspiration to the Solidarity labor movement that presaged the fall of communism in Poland.
With communism’s collapse in 1989, the Jewish activists came out of hiding and began to revitalize Jewish communities in a free Poland. Throughout his long life Edelman continued to play an active role in Polish political and Jewish cultural life.
I was fortunate to meet Edelman a handful of times, and like nearly all who knew him, I can attest that he could affect a gruff exterior. He stated his strong opinions bluntly and did not mince words -- certainly not when confronting injustice and hypocrisy.
He could be a tough pragmatist, even to the point of seeming heartless. Edelman would tell a story in which he characterized himself as having been “merciless” during the war. As a young messenger for the ghetto hospital, he carried documents that allowed him to rescue a few Jews from trains transporting them to the gas chambers. He consciously saved those he thought most capable of aiding the coming ghetto revolt. Only those who experienced the horrors of the Warsaw ghetto, he said, could understand the decisions he and others were forced to make.
Making such tough life-and-death decisions did not preclude, and perhaps heightened, Edelman’s capacity for empathy. He often spoke of the courage exhibited by those Jews who chose to stay with their families, even when staying together meant the strong accompanied the weak to a certain end. What others condemned as shameful meekness Edelman saw as courage that was as great, he said, as that of those who fought the Nazis with homemade weapons.
“These people went quietly and with dignity,” he said. “It is an awesome thing, when one is going so quietly to one’s death. It is definitely more difficult than to go out shooting."
Bishop Tadeusz Pieronek of Warsaw has said of Edelman that it was his decision to stay in Poland that “made him fight so hard for his Jewish and Polish identity. He became a real witness, he gave a real testimony with his life."
For that decision and that testimony, Poland and its revitalized Jewish community -- and in fact Jews everywhere -- have much to be grateful.
"With communism’s collapse in 1989, the Jewish activists came out of hiding and began to revitalize Jewish communities in a free Poland."
Poland was also 'free' before the original Nazi invasion.
Correct me if I am wrong here but he is not thinking of Jewish ghetto's but the Jewish involvement in things that can influence the running of the country, and what paths are taken in the future.

Jewish presence should have been visible since the end of the war, why was it in hiding until 1989?

In that he is concerned with Jews in Poland is it Jews or Poland that these efforts are supporting. I take it to mean Jews should be equals in Poland, Jews are quite capable of thinking they deserve the majority even with an actual population that is considerably less than what would be considered a 'ratio' based on total population.

Prior to 1900 Jews were as involved in carnal heathen activities as much as any Gentile, even more so if % of total populations is considered as a factor.

"Polish political and Jewish cultural life"
Any chance on getting a 3 page (or more) document on just what that actually means in an international court of law?
Marek Edelman (1919 or 1922 – October 2, 2009) was a Polish-Jewish political and social activist and cardiologist.

During World War II, he was one of the founders of the Jewish Combat Organization. He took part in the 1943 Warsaw Ghetto Uprising and became its leader following the death of Mordechaj Anielewicz. He also took part in the Warsaw Uprising of 1944. Before his death on the 2nd of October 2009 Edelman was the last surviving leader of the Ghetto Uprising.

After the war he remained in Poland and became a noted cardiologist. From the 1970s he collaborated with the Workers' Defence Committee and other political groups opposing Poland's Communist regime. As a member of Solidarity, he took part in the Polish Round Table Talks of 1989. Following the peaceful transformations of 1989, he was a member of various centrist parties. He also authored books documenting the history of wartime resistance against the Nazi German occupation.

Edelman was never a Zionist; he was a member of the anti-Zionist socialist Bund and remained firmly Polish, refusing to migrate to Israel.

In old age, he continued to speak up for Palestinians as he felt that the Jewish self-defence for which he had fought was in danger of crossing the line into oppression. In August 2002 Edelman wrote a letter to Palestinians resistance leaders. Though the letter criticized the suicide bombers, its tone infuriated the Israeli government and press. According to The Guardian, "He wrote [the letter] in a spirit of solidarity from a fellow resistance fighter, as a former leader of a Jewish uprising not dissimilar in desperation to the Palestinian uprising in the occupied territories."

Here is his letter:

Letter to Palestinian military organizations from Marek Edelman, Bundist leader of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising and other resistance, and commentary

To all the leaders of Palestinian military, paramilitary and guerilla
To all the soldiers of Palestinian militant groups:

My name is Marek Edelman, I am a former Deputy Commander of the Jewish Military organization in Poland, one of the leaders of the Warsaw Ghetto Insurrection, In the memorable year of the insurrection - 1943 - we were fighting for the survival of the Jewish community in Warsaw. We were fighting for mere life, not for territory, nor for a national identity. We were fighting with a hopeless determination, but our weapons were never directed against the defenseless civilian populations, we never killed women and children, In a world devoid of principles and values, despite a constant danger of death, we did remain faithful to these values and moral principles.

We were isolated in our fight, and yet the powerful opposing army was not able to destroy these barely armed boys and girls.

Our fight in Warsaw lasted several weeks, later we fought in the Underground and in the Warsaw insurrection of 1944.

Yet nowhere in the world can a guerilla force bring conclusive victory, nowhere can it be defeated by weapon-full armies, Neither can your war attain any resolution. Blood will be spilled in vain and lives will be lost on both sides.

We have never been careless with life. We have never sent our soldiers to certain death. Life is one for eternity. Nobody has the right to mindlessly take it away. It is high time for everybody to understand just that.

Just look around you, Look at Ireland. After 50 years of bloody war, peace has arrived. Formerly deadly enemies have set down at a common table. Look at Poland at Wales and Kuron, Without a shot being fired, the criminal communist system has been defeated. Both You and the State of Israel have to radically change your attitude. You have to want peace in order to save the lives of hundreds and perhaps thousands of people, and to create a better future for your loved ones, for your children. I know from my own experience that the current unfolding of events depends on you, the Military Leaders. The Influence of political and civilian actors is much smaller. Some of you studied at the university in my town - some of you know me. You are wise and intelligent enough to understand that without peace there is no future for Palestine, and that peace can be attained only at the cost of both sides agreeing to some concessions.
Zurich, 10. August 2002


Thanks for the wonderful contribution you made to my thread , China.
I should thank you. Before you made this post, I never heard of this person. But your post made me curious and the more I read the more I decided I like this guy.
Quote: Originally Posted by MHzView Post

Jewish presence should have been visible since the end of the war, why was it in hiding until 1989?

Poland killed the highest percentage of its Jews than any other country, even Germany. And under Communism Jews couldn't surface.
JBG (external - login to view)

Poland killed the highest percentage of its Jews than any other country, even Germany. And under Communism Jews couldn't surface

Nope , a person with your way of thinking would not last a day in Poland.
We'd "sniff" you out , Nahh ,not a day , in less than an hour.
705 Polish Righteous were killed for helping Jews W2

705 Poles were killed for hiding Jews. Germans killed 705 Poles for save Jews during German occupation Poland- World War II 1939-1945 during German Plan "Final Solution"(German: Die Endlösung), German Plan "Generalplan Ost", German Plan "Operation Reinhard", German Plan "AB-Aktion", German Plan "Operation Tannenberg", RSHA, Sicherheitspolizei, Sicherheitsdienst Reinhard Heydrich, Einsatzgruppen, Pacification operations in German-occupied Poland 1939-1945 Over 705 Polish Righteous among the Nations were murdered by the Germans for aiding or sheltering their Jewish neighbors. These Poles were only a small percentage of the thousands reportedly executed by the German Nazis for aiding Jews. "Władysław Bartoszewski, who worked for Żegota during the war estimates that 'at least several hundred thousand Poles... participated in various ways and forms in the rescue action.' Recent research suggests that a million Poles were involved" in the rescue of Jews,"but some estimates go as high as three million." Similarly, "estimates of the number of Poles who perished at the hands of the Germans for aiding Jews vary from a few thousand [see above] to fifty thousand" according to different research. How many people in Poland rescued Jews? Of those that meet Yad Vashems criteria—perhaps 100,000. Of those that offered minor forms of help—perhaps two or three times as many. Of those who were passively protective—undoubtedly the majority of the population. — Gunnar S. Paulsson Would you risk your own life and your family's to save another human being? Germans selected occupied Poland as the only country where aiding a Jew, be it only to give him a slice of bread, was immediately punished by death. Failure to inform on a neighbor hiding Jews meant deportation to a GERMAN NAZI Concentration and Extermination Camp(1939-1945) AUSCHWITZ, BUCHENWALD, DACHAU, BERGEN BELSEN, Ravensbrück, SACHSENHAUSEN, MAUTHAUSEN, NEUENGAMME, GROSS-ROSEN, SZUCHA, PAWIAK, PALMIRY. On August 22, 1939, a week before his attack on Poland, Hitler exhorted his nation: "Kill without pity or mercy all men, women and children of Polish descent or language. Only in this way can we obtain the living space we need." As many as 200,000 Polish children, deemed to have "Germanic" (Aryan) features, were forcibly taken to Germany to be raised as Germans, and had their birth records falsified. Very few of these children were reunited with their families after the war. More than 500 towns and villages were burned, over 16 thousand persons, mostly Polish Christians, were killed in 714 mass executions of which 60% were carried out by the Wehrmacht (German army) and 40% by the SS and Gestapo. In Bydgoszcz the first victims were boy scouts from 12 to 16 years old, shot in the marketplace. All this happened in the first eight weeks of the war. See Richard C. Lucas, The Forgotten Holocaust; The Poles under German Occupation. Lexington: The University Press of Kentucky [c1986]. According to the AB German Plan, Poles were to become a people without education, slaves for the German overlords. Secondary schools were closed; studying, keeping radios, or arms of any kind, or practicing any kind of trade were prohibited under the threat of death. Out of its pre-war population of 36 million, Poland lost 22%, a higher percentage than any other country in Europe. The heaviest losses were sustained by educated classes, youth and democratic forces that could have challenged totalitarianism. See I. C. Pogonowski, Poland: A Historical Atlas. New York, Hippocrene Books, 1987. Righteous Among the Nations: POLAND- 6066 - more than from any other German Nazi-occupied country Total Persons- 22,211 Zegota-Council for Aid to Jews in Occupied Poland(1939-1945). ZEGOTA (in Polish: ŻEGOTA) was the only government-sponsored (London-based Polish Government-in-Exile) social welfare agency established to rescue Jews in German-occupied EUROPE.
Last edited by china; Oct 11th, 2009 at 02:58 AM..
Quote: Originally Posted by chinaView Post

JBG (external - login to view)
Nope , a person with your way of thinking would not last a day in Poland.
We'd "sniff" you out , Nahh ,not a day , in less than an hour.

I'm Jewish and I'm saying that Jews didn't make it too well under either the Nazis or the Communists.


JBG (external - login to view)
Quote: Poland killed the highest percentage of its Jews than any other country, even Germany.


I'm Jewish and I'm saying that Jews didn't make it too well under either the Nazis or the Communists.

WE'd sniff you out in no time.
Quote: Originally Posted by chinaView Post

WE'd sniff you out in no time.

Your post makes no sense at all.
Quoting china (external - login to view) (external - login to view) (external - login to view) (external - login to view) (external - login to view) JBG

WE'd sniff you out in no time.


Your post makes no sense at all.

That's because you are not much of a Jew ..............at all.
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He wouldn't let the light fade

The casket and portrait of Marek Edelman, who was the last surviving leader of the 1943 Warsaw Ghetto uprising, stands in front of a monument to ghetto fighters in Warsaw. Poland, on Friday, Oct. 9,2 009 during Edelman's burial ceremonies. Edelman, who also fought in the 1944 Warsaw uprising and was member of Poland's democratic opposition, died Oct. 2, 2009 in Warsaw. (Czarek Sokolowski, Associated Press / October 9, 2009)

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By Howard Tyner October 18, 2009

On a sunny afternoon in February 1973, I found myself wandering Warsaw's (external - login to view) north side, six months after becoming Poland correspondent for United Press International.

Rounding a corner I spotted a small sign that said Warsaw's Jewish Museum could be found on the second floor of a nondescript brick building there. Upstairs, an elderly white-haired man sat alone in a large room, surrounded by artifacts and memories from an ancient culture all but destroyed three decades earlier.

The museum's centerpiece was a table bearing a 15-by-15-foot relief model of the Warsaw ghetto, which, I soon learned, had been nearby during the early years of the Nazi occupation. The model had been built for ceremonies marking the 30th anniversary of the desperate revolt a tiny band of gutsy young Jewish fighters launched in the ghetto in April 1943. The Germans crushed it in three weeks.

My guide gestured at the wall behind me, toward a handful of yellowed portrait photographs hanging there. Those, he told me, were the heroes of the ghetto uprising. All dead, I presumed -- incorrectly.

Some, of course, had died fighting. Others committed suicide before being captured. But several had escaped. Two emigrated to Israel after the war. And one, he said rather casually, lives in Poland.

"In Poland?" I asked, amazed. "Yes, his name is Marek Edelman. He's a physician, a heart specialist. He lives in Lodz."

That surprising moment came rushing back to me a few days ago when I read that Dr. Edelman had died at age 90, the last surviving leader of the ghetto uprising.

"How could I find him?" I asked. "Get his number and call him," was the reply.

The next day at the central train station in downtown Warsaw I found a bank of telephone books from cities all over Poland. In the one for Lodz were listings for several Edelmans, two with the initial "M."

I stuffed a handful of zlotys into a pay phone nearby and rang the first number. No Marek Edelman there. At the second, however, the man who answered spoke English. Bingo.

Dr. Edelman listened patiently as I explained who I was and that I wanted to write about him. It turned out that the following week he was coming to Warsaw for a medical conference. We could meet then.

"Could we go to the ghetto?" I asked, uncertain how he would reply. "Of course," he answered.

On the day of his visit we drove to the old ghetto, which had been rebuilt after the war with large, unattractive apartment blocks.

Mila Street (pronounced mee-wa) was our first stop. "Mila" in Polish means nice, but there are few nice memories attached to the location. The main command bunker for the ghetto uprising lay under No. 18 Mila Street and the Germans blew it and every building nearby to bits after regaining control of the ghetto in early May 1943.

Dr. Edelman and I started walking. After a few blocks he gestured to where another underground bunker had been, the one he commanded during the uprising as a 23-year-old. The hellish scenes he described for more than an hour were almost impossible to imagine as we strolled on quiet streets surrounded by apartments and parked cars.

Finally he announced that he would show me how he and a few other fighters escaped through the sewers as the revolt collapsed.

He knew the route exactly, stopping occasionally to point out manholes. The fighters had stumbled and crawled in the darkness, often in slime up to their chests, following a guide to the so-called "Aryan side" beyond the ghetto walls.

After many hours, they reached a manhole outside the ghetto, exhausted, frightened and famished. Friends were waiting, but, Edelman said, they couldn't climb out. It was daytime -- the street was busy and there were too many people around, both Polish and German.

The friends had dressed as street workers. They removed the manhole cover and slipped in food and water, but the group had to stay underground through another night of torment.

Next morning the "workers" returned and erected a low wooden barricade around the manhole so they could make "repairs." Soon afterward a truck pulled up and the weary fighters managed to get out -- and away. Once out of Warsaw, Dr. Edelman and his comrades joined various resistance groups to continue the fight.

On that February day in 1973 the street was quiet. Only the steel manhole cover in front of us hinted at the horrors that had occurred around there 30 years earlier. Dr. Edelman became silent. I remember wondering what was going through his mind. Soon we returned to my car and I drove him to Warsaw University.

Howard Tyner, editor of the

Chicago Tribune (external - login to view) from 1993 to 2001, was United Press International's Poland correspondent from 1972 to 1974.

Copyright © 2009, Chicago Tribune (external - login to view)

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Marek Edelman, 1919-2009: Leader of Warsaw ghetto uprising

Helped organize uprisings against Nazi occupation

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By Monika Scislowska Associated Press October 4, 2009

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WARSAW (external - login to view), Poland -- Marek Edelman, the last surviving leader of the ill-fated 1943 Warsaw ghetto revolt against the Nazis (external - login to view), died Friday at age 90.

Mr. Edelman died of old age at the home of a family friend.

Most of Mr. Edelman's adult life was dedicated to the defense of human life, dignity and freedom. He fought the Nazis in the doomed Warsaw ghetto revolt and later in the Warsaw city uprising. And then for decades he fought communism in Poland.

His heroism earned him the French Legion of Honor and Poland's highest civilian distinction, the Order of the White Eagle.

Former Israeli ambassador to Poland Shevach Weiss paid tribute to Mr. Edelman.

"He will remain in my memory as a fighting hero, a man of great courage," Weiss said. "He never ceased in his struggle for human freedom and for Poland's freedom."

The uprising at the Warsaw ghetto was the first act of large-scale armed civilian resistance against the Germans in occupied Poland during World War II (external - login to view).

Each year, on the revolt's anniversary, Mr. Edelman laid flowers at Warsaw's monument to the ghetto heroes and called for tolerance.

"Remember them all -- boys and girls -- 220 altogether, not too many to remember their faces, their names," he said of the young fighters in a 2008 interview with The Associated Press.

He also felt obliged to appeal repeatedly to the world for freedom and peace -- even when it had to be won in a fight.

"When you cannot defend freedom through peaceful means, you have to use arms to fight Nazism, dictatorship, chauvinism," Mr. Edelman said in the 2008 interview.

He worked at a city hospital in Lodz, almost to his last day.

Mr. Edelman was born Jan. 1, 1919, in Homel, which was then in eastern Poland and is now in Belarus. His family soon moved to Warsaw.

When the Nazis invaded Poland on Sept. 1, 1939, Mr. Edelman was member of Bund, a Jewish socialist organization that later masterminded plans for resistance against the occupying Germans.

The Germans set up the Warsaw ghetto in November 1940, cramming some 460,000 Jews from the city and from across Poland in inhuman conditions. After a year, almost half the people there had died of disease and starvation.

The resistance plans were implemented April 19, 1943, when the Nazis moved to liquidate the ghetto by killing or sending some remaining 60,000 residents to the death camps.

But that April, the well-trained German troops encountered unexpectedly fierce resistance from a few hundred young, poorly armed Jewish civilians, determined to die fighting rather than in gas chambers.

At age 23, Mr. Edelman took command of a brushmakers unit, based at a brush factory.

"No one believed they would be saved," Mr. Edelman said. "We knew the struggle was doomed, but it showed the world ... that you could fight the Nazis.

"Every moment was difficult. It was two or three or 10 boys fighting with an army," Mr. Edelman said in 2008. "There were no easy moments."
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