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January 4: Resistance in the Częstochowa Ghetto

January 4, 2016

archive(1)Yitzhak Feiner and Mendel Fiszlewicz, two young members of the Jewish Fighting Organization, formed only weeks earlier in the Częstochowa Ghetto in Poland, used pistols to resist a Nazi round-up on this date in 1943. “Suddenly we heard one or two shots, the screams of Germans,” reports Dorka Sternberg-Bram, an eyewitness who later helped to found the Ghetto Fighters Kibbutz in Israel. Later, she continues, “we saw the Germans choose twenty-five young men and women from the Jews who remained behind after the transport to Treblinka... and shoot them one by one before our eyes.” After the war ended and the bodies of the victims were moved to a Jewish cemetery, a note was found inside a buried bottle on which was written, “Mendel Fiszlewicz died the death of a hero at the hands of the brutal soldiers on 4 January 1943. Honor to his memory.”

“A year and a half later, in late June 1943, the Germans discovered the bunker of the Częstochowa fighters and killed everyone in it, including Zilberberg, the commander. In September 1944... Gvirtzman had written to the Jewish Agency from his hiding place: ‘Dear friends! In these most difficult days, we wish to convey to you this last testament, that of a group of Jewish partisans, who spontaneously organized from among the remnants of the defenders of the ghetto, the members of the Jewish Fighting Organization…We write this letter when death may come at any moment. We are prepared to resist with our weapons.’ ” —The Ghetto Fighters’ House Museum