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January 22: The Warsaw Ghetto Underground

January 22, 2012lawrencebush

Josef Szerynski, Chief of the Jewish ghetto police, and Jakub Lejkin, Warsaw ghettoThe Jewish Fighting Organization of Warsaw (ZOB) issued the following proclamation about this date in 1943, following its first act of armed resistance (January 18th):

“On January 22 1943, six months will have elapsed since the start of the deportation from Warsaw. We all remember those harrowing days in which 300,000 of our brothers and sisters were transported to and brutally murdered in the Treblinka death camp.

“Six months of constant fear of death have passed without our knowing what the next day will bring. We received reports left and right about Jews being killed in the General government [Polish territories under Nazi rule], Germany and other occupied countries. As we listened to these terrible tidings, we waited for our own turn to come — any day, any moment. Today we must realize that the Hitlerian murderers have let us live only to exploit our manpower, until the last drop of blood and sweat, until our last breath.

“We are slaves and when slaves no longer bring in profits they are killed. Each of us must realize this, and always keep it in mind. Jewish masses, the hour is drawing near. You must be prepared to resist, not give yourself up to slaughter like sheep. Not a single Jew should go to the railroad cars. Those who are unable to put up active resistance should resist passively, meaning go into hiding.

“We have just received information from Lvov that the Jewish police there forcefully executed the deportation of 3,000 Jews. This will not be allowed to happen again in Warsaw. The assassination of Lejkin demonstrates that.

“Our slogan must be: All are ready to die as human beings.”

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“Encouraged by the results of resistance actions, the Jews in the ghetto plan and prepare a full-scale revolt. The fighting organization is unified, strategies are planned, underground bunkers and tunnels are built, and roof-top passages are constructed. The Jews of the Warsaw ghetto prepare to fight to the end.” —U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum