A Surplus of Memory: Chronicle of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising Hardcover – May 7 1993
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From Publishers Weekly
This absorbing, important memoir by a leader of the Jewish resistance in the Warsaw ghetto uprising is a great human drama that reaffirms the moral dignity and courage of ordinary people in the most extreme circumstances. Zuckerman (1915-1981), known by his underground pseudonym Antek, was a founder and commander of the Jewish Fighting Organization, which waged guerrilla warfare against the Nazis in April and May 1943. After the doomed uprising, he helped countless Jews who hid in "Aryanized" Warsaw. He and his wife, Zivia Lubetkin, a fellow resistance fighter, assisted the exodus of Jews to Palestine, where they themselves later emigrated. First published in Israel in 1991 and issued in this fluent translation to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the uprising, Zuckerman's autobiographical narrative extends from the German invasion of Poland in 1939 to Polish pogroms against Jews in 1946. The book sheds invaluable light on Jewish resistance to the Nazis and on Jewish-Polish relations. Photos.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From Library Journal
Zuckerman, known by his underground name, Antek, was one of the leaders of the Jewish Fighting Organization who directed the uprising, from the outside, in the Warsaw ghetto in 1944. He remained in Poland until early 1947, organizing emigration to Palestine, where he then settled until his death in 1981. When his memoirs first appeared in Hebrew two years ago, they were harshly criticized for their rambling character and criticism of the tactics and strategy of the Jewish underground--criticisms that seem misplaced. Zuckerman is certainly bitter and argues convincingly that if the Jewish Fighting Organization had focused on deterring Jewish collaboration, the deportation of the Jews would have been more difficult to carry out. Interestingly, Zuckerman, who had access, is much less critical than most Jewish historians of Polish behavior in Nazi-occupied Warsaw. His memoirs will be essential reading for those interested in the Jewish tragedy during World War II.
- Antony Polonsky, Brandeis Univ., Watham, Mass.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Relative to the "resettlements" to Treblinka, Zuckerman faulted the tardiness of militant Jewish counteraction: "Our blame is that we could have delayed the sentence, we could have forced them to bring 10,000 Germans to do the work done by 2,000 to 3,000 Jewish police." (p. 209). The Germans would've used firearms, causing massive bloodshed, and thereby inducing more Jews to resist or escape instead of obediently boarding the death trains.
The retrieval of usable 1939-war weaponry for the Polish and Jewish Undergrounds wasn't straightforward: "With the defeat of the Polish Army, groups of Poles or individual Polish soldiers tried to hide weapons in woods and hiding places, and only they knew where they were hidden. Sometimes weapons were hidden near some village where the peasants were afraid to give them to Poles or partisans, because giving weapons to the enemies of the Germans was a death sentence on the whole village since the Germans applied collective responsibility. And there was always somebody, who, out of cowardice or obsequiousness, would tell the Germans where the weapons were. The ordinary person didn't keep weapons because that jeopardized himself, his family, and his courtyard. And everyone was afraid his friend or neighbor would denounce him." (pp. 252-253). Zuckerman's statements debunk the double-standard arguments, advanced against Poles (e. g., by Jan T. Gross), regarding risk-taking, denunciation, and neighbors'-silence, relative to hiding Jews vis-à-vis Underground involvement.
Zuckerman doesn't trivialize Polish aid to the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising (p. 292) despite his obvious anti-ZZW bias (e. g., pp. 410-412. However, he admits the existence of Iwenski/Iwanski). He presents a middle view of the extent of ZOB-Communist entanglement (p. 184, 360), though he also exhibits a rosy and undiscerning view of the Communist GL/AL (p. 362, 373, esp. p. 459, 502, and 525). He admits trying to hide his contacts with the GL/AL from the AK (Home Army)(p. 339).
As for the "balance sheet", Zuckerman comments: "I said honestly [in 1945] and I repeat it today: to cause the death of one hundred Jews, all you needed was one Polish denouncer; to save one Jew, it sometimes took the help of ten decent Poles, the help of an entire Polish family; even if they did it for money." (p. 461). And, while in gentile Warsaw, Zuckerman encountered as many Jewish denouncers as Polish ones. (p. 493).
Recounting the hardships under the German occupation, Zuckerman, unlike the Yad Vashem policy, appreciates even the paid Polish aid to Jews. (p. 461). And, realizing that devout Jews would've done the same, he doesn't despise those Polish rescuers who attempted to convert Jews. (p. 493).
Contrary to SOPHIE'S CHOICE, the Endeks never contemplated, let alone advocated, the extermination of Jews. (p. 437). Poles, except the fringe element, didn't rejoice when the Warsaw Ghetto burned--to the contrary. (p. 374, 393).
Zuckerman closely observed the Polish Warsaw Uprising (1944). He commented: "To the credit of the Poles, they were brave people who stuck to their guns. I didn't see any panic or running away." (p. 538). "When I was in the Old City, I didn't sense anti-Semitism even once, neither from the civilian population nor from the AK; the opposite was true." (p. 561). "Soviet officers who had been at Stalingrad said that Warsaw was the most destroyed city in Europe." (p. 560).
The 1946 Kielce Pogrom wasn't spontaneous: "The pogrom struck Jews in a radius of dozens of kilometers around Kielce--on the same day and at the same time, Jews were taken off trains and murdered...the day before the pogrom members of the UB and militia had come and collected weapons from the Jews...[who] now had nothing to defend themselves with!" (p. 661). [The shooting from inside the Jewish compound came from the UB, obviously to further inflame the crowd against the Jews.]
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