Polish Witnesses to the Shoah
Contributions by: Antony Polonsky
The Warsaw weekly Polityka issued the following appeal to its readers on the fiftieth anniversary of the 1943 Warsaw Ghetto Uprising: "We are asking those of you who still remember the circumstances of the Time of Humiliation to summon up scenes and images from memory. We are appealing to Poles who helped rescue Jews, to Polish witnesses of the persecution of the Jews and of the Holocaust...The aim is to recount events, including those whose narrators would rather forget about them, or never return to them." The people who were born before or during the war and who found themselves on one side or the other of the ghetto wall are the last participants in, and witnesses to, the history of the Jews there. The appeal for recollections of scenes that 'cannot be forgotten' generated 225 submissions, 82 of which are included here. Half a century later, when the eye-witness reports were written - and 66 years later published here in English for the first time - the dilemmas, emotions and doubts about their attitudes and the behavior of their loved ones are finally revealed. Various themes are examined in this book: the guilt felt by those who were unable to help, the cruelty of some Germans and Polish people, the suffering of the children, the apparent lack of resistance put up by the Jewish victims, the courage shown by a few. Sometimes harrowing, sometimes uplifting, these stories give an insight into the people behind the faceless numbers.
Publication Date: 4/1/2010