Saturday, October 10, 2009

Vale Marek Edelman - anti-fascist, anti-Zionist, freedom fighter of the Warsaw Ghetto

Dear friends,
many of you may have already read that Marek Edelman died last week. Edelman was one of the leaders of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising against the Nazis during World War II. He was a member of the Bund and an anti-Zionist, remaining one until his death last week. While Zionism tries to claim Edelman and his comrades to help further the Zionist cause and myth, Edelman and his comrades (as Tony Greenstein writes below)were "the living proof that Jews could fight anti-Semitism where they lived and didn’t have to escape to a state mirrored on the principles of their oppressors in someone else's land in Palestine. Above all he [Edelman] excoriated the Jewish collaborators and traitors who the Zionists had seen fit to call ‘heroes’. He didn’t fit in with or conform to Zionism’s narrative of the Holocaust".

In 2002, Edelman revealed he had not waived from his principle that one must stand against injustice and oppression, when he publicly sided with the Palestinian resistance, much to the outrage of the Zionist and Israeli leadership.

Edelman should be remembered for the man and hero he was - a freedom fighter, who never waived from his principles or beliefs and who stood against injustice, racism, occupation and oppression.

Below is Tony Greenstein's obituary on Marek Edelman - anti-fascist, anti-Zionist, freedom fighter of the Warsaw Ghetto.

In solidarity,


Marek Edelman - Death of an anti-fascist hero of the Warsaw Jewish Resistance
Last Commander of the Warsaw Ghetto Revolt Dies Aged 90

By Tony Greenstein

On October 2nd 2009, Marek Edelman, Deputy Leader of ZOB, the Jewish Fighting Organisation in the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, died aged 90. Marek Edelman who, after the death of Mordechai Anielwicz, became Commander of ZOB, was a living legend as well as a world famous heart surgeon. He led the Bund units in the area of the Brushworks and the Tobins factories.

In December 1990 I reviewed his book The Ghetto Fights in Return 5, a Jewish anti-Zionist magazine.

Marek Edelman was a member of the anti-Zionist Bund, the General Jewish Workers Union of Poland. The Bund has originally been formed as the General Jewish Workers Union of Lithuania, Poland and Russia, but the Stalinists had eliminated it and its leadership.

Edelman’s life was the stuff of fiction. From fighting in the Ghetto Uprising, escaping via the sewers to the ‘Aryan’ side of Warsaw, a founder of Solidarity in Poland who was briefly imprisoned by the Stalinists.

Edelman was the living proof that Jews could fight anti-Semitism where they lived and didn’t have to escape to a state mirrored on the principles of their oppressors in someone else's land in Palestine. Above all he excoriated the Jewish collaborators and traitors who the Zionists had seen fit to call ‘heroes’. He didn’t fit in with or conform to Zionism’s narrative of the Holocaust.

Today Zionism praises the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, but in the 1930’s and 1940’s it treated and made deals with the Nazis. In the Ghetto the Jewish leadership did nothing as two-thirds of the Jews were deported without resistance. The Chairman of the Judenrat, Adam Czerniakow, a General Zionist and compared to most leaders of the Judenrat, an honourable man, committed suicide. 'what could we do’ was the familiar refrain of the Jewish leadership. But the Bund, which delayed the setting up of the Ghetto through demonstrations and mass mobilisation, believed in relying on the masses, not the lying words of the Nazi enemy.

Edelman as a young man

Zionism had always preached the line of least resistance. As the anti-Nazi Boycott of German goods was launched in Britain and the USA in 1933 by the Jewish labour movement, the Zionist leaders negotiated an economic transfer agreement (Ha'avara) that led to 60% of capital investment in Palestine between 1933 and 1939 coming from Nazi Germany.

Edelman became a ‘non-person’ in Israel. He challenged the Zionist fable that the holocaust was part of a continuous road that led to the Israeli state and that the Ghetto Uprising was part of that same road. Having abandoned the Jews of Europe to their fate, Zionism created the myth that resistance to the Nazis was a Zionist endeavour.

As Yitzhak Laor noted in his review in Ha'aretz of 26.12.04. of Ruth Linn’s, Escaping Auschwitz: A Culture of Forgetting

‘How long did it take before we finally learned that there had been anti-Zionists among the fighters in the Warsaw Ghetto uprising? Who was Marek Edelman? Why could he show up from time to time at Kibbutz Lohamei Hageta’ot (“Ghetto Fighters”) to sit down and chat with his soul mate Antek Zuckerman, while we, as readers, were kept in the dark as to the man’s charm and greatness? Because the collective memory was unable to tolerate people who had consciously chosen not to identify with the Zionist enterprise, even in the context of Holocaust memory.’

Linn’s book dealt with another Jewish hero of the holocaust hero, Rudolf Vrba, who with Alfred Wetzler, escaped from Auschwitz, to warn the 800,000 Hungarian Jews that they were next on the Nazi butchers’ list. Their detailed description of the gas chambers and the location of their murder, the Auschwitz Protocols, was suppressed by the Zionist press and movement until the Swiss newspapers , the War Refugee Board and the Vatican, among others, blew the whistle.

The reason for the silencing of Edelman and Vrba was because the Holocaust has been harnessed to the cause the dispossession of the Palestinians. The Palestinians were the new Nazis and anyone who disagreed was also an anti-Semite. As Richard Goldstone found out this week when Israel's finance minister, Yuval Steinitz, accused him of being an anti-Semite. (BREAKING NEWS - Israel Finance Minister: Goldstone Is 'Anti-Semite').

As Idith Zertal wrote:

"Nationalizing the ghetto uprisings was a way of nationalizing the narrative and removing all the contradictory, non-Zionist elements…. The fact that the umbrella organizations involved in the rebellion included all the political parties was minimized or obscured. Of all the efforts to hush up and disguise the truth, the case of Marek Edelman is perhaps the most glaring."

As Zertal pointed out, the "Encyclopedia of the Holocaust," edited by Israel Gutman, one of Israel's Establishment Holocaust Historians at Yad Vashem, is very vague about Edelman's role, and devotes only one column to him. (The Living Dead, Yitzhak Laor)

Marek Edelman’s book, The Ghetto is Fighting, was first published in Poland in 1945 and republished in Britain in 1990. Given that this was the only first-hand account by a leader of the Uprising, it is hardly accidental that it took 56 years, until 2001, before it was published in Israel.

“Like Vrba, Edelman ‘ascended’ to Israel, refusing to become the ‘dead and obedient hero who could be moulded along with the political order of that time. On the contrary he remained alive and kicking and refusing and, therefore, extremely inconvenient for the creation of a heroic Zionist condensing and compensating myth.’ Zertal, I. Death and the Nation, 56-7 (Translation from Hebrew).

Fighters of the Warsaw Ghetto

As another survivor of the Warsaw Ghetto, Professor Israel Shahak, wrote in a letter published on 19 May 1989 in Kol Ha'ir, Jerusalem:

Nearly all the work of administration, and later the work of transporting hundreds of thousands of Jews to their deaths, was carried out by Jewish collaborators. Before the outbreak of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising… the Jewish underground killed, with perfect justification, every Jewish collaborator they could find. If they had not done so the Uprising could never have started. The majority of the population of the Ghetto hated the collaborators far more than the German Nazis….

the entire Nazi success in easy and continued rule over millions of people stemmed from the subtle and diabolical use of collaborators… This, and not what is 'instilled' was the reality. Of the Yad Vashem (official state Holocaust museum in Jerusalem - Ed.) theatre, I do not wish to speak, at all. It, and its vile exploits, such as honouring South Africa collaborators with the Nazis [the visit of South African Premier John Vorster to Israel - TG) are truly beneath contempt.

And this is the reason for the silencing and invisibility of Marek Edelman and Rudolf Vrba. They were living proof that Zionism was not and never was a movement of resistance in Europe, but a movement of collaboration. Ironically, given that Zionism accuses its Jewish opponents of ‘self-hatred’, it is as Antony Lerman points out in the Guardian, ‘arguable that Zionism was actually a display of it.’

Warsaw Ghetto fighters

Of course there were many Zionists who, despite their Zionism, fought against the Nazis. They included the Commander of ZOB, Mordechai Anielwicz of Hashomer Hatzair. But he too began the fightback with a declaration that his Zionist work in Poland had been wasted years. Even as preparations for the Uprising were underway, Zionist collaborators such as Abraham Gancawajch of Hashomer Hatzair were targeted (unsuccessfully in his case) for assassination.

As John Rose notes in his obituary in the summer of 2002,

Edelman, intervened in Israel's show trial of jailed Palestinian resistance leader, Marwan Barghouti. He wrote a letter of solidarity to the Palestinian movement, and though he criticised the suicide bombers, its tone infuriated the Israeli government and its press. Edelman had always resented Israel's claim on the Warsaw Ghetto uprising as a symbol of Jewish liberation. Now he said this belonged to the Palestinians.

He addressed his letter to the Palestinian ZOB, "commanders of the Palestinian military, paramilitary and partisan operations – to all the soldiers of the Palestinian fighting organisations". The old Jewish anti-Nazi Ghetto fighter had placed his immense moral authority at the disposable of the only side he deemed worthy of it.

And this is the response to those who query the connection between the Palestinian fighters and the Jewish fighters of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising.

Former Israeli Foreign Minister, Moshe Arens, in Ha'aretz: reveals that when trying to get Edelman an award of an honorary doctorate from an Israeli university, Vrba received one in 1999 from Haifa University as a result of Ruth Linn’s efforts, ‘I ran into stubborn opposition led by Holocaust historians in Israel.’ These were the Zionists' establishment historians, people such as Yehuda Bauer, Yisrael Guttman, Gili Fatran and Otto dov Kulka, who have been in the forefront of Zionising and nationalising the Holocaust. Their task is to rewrite the history of the Holocaust so that it becomes the property of those who, in their time, were the real Jewish self-haters and collaborators.

Arens wrote of Edelman that

‘He had received Poland's highest honor, and at the 65th commemoration of the Warsaw ghetto uprising he was awarded the French Legion of Honor medal. He died not having received the recognition from Israel that he so richly deserved.’

Some would say that he was doubly fortunate in this respect!

Tony Greenstein


ארז said...

your post if full of manipulation of the truth, of Zionism, Of Marek Edelman, of the memory of the holocaust, and almost everything else as well.

Your view is so biased ideaologically you don't let the facts get in the way.

The Z.O.B (and even the smaller but more general Z.Z.W, which you forgot to mention) were made basically of radical youth, majority of them Zionist Chalutzim with Zionist-socialist agenda.
both marek Edelman and his Zionist comrades chose to fight against the will of their elder leaders of their movements. only the radicals fo both movements - bund and zionism - who folowed their basic believes thorouhly, were able to understand the tragedy to the full extent.

Contrary to what you wrote, marek edelman was never an enemy of zionism or zionists. He was a loyal jew with the an agenda that could be fullfilled if jews would make Aliya to Eretz-Israel(at first the Bund even objected any kind of jewish immegration from eastern europe because it might thwart the chance for jewish socialist revival there)

He remained loyal to his critisizm of Zionism - that Jewish nationality "would never work" in the middle-east and that even if it will, it would deterierate to capitalist tyranny from one kind or another - dangerous possibilities, partly fullfilled, but not because of Zionism, but its take over by capitalism (Jewish and Global), and Arab Islamic imperalism.

In his visits in Israel marek stated that We are not the same Jewish people. In his opinion, the jewish people was murdered at the camps. biologically, culturely, and politically.

I agree that we are today not the Jewish people that Marek dreamed of, but I think we are Jews who continue the Jewish existance and the Memory of Marek.

In fact, Marek stayed in poland, as a last reminder, in respect of the murdered souls, his people, jews, and bundists among them. He did not gave in to despair, and achieved important achievements as a heart-surgeon and a political activist his Bundist dream in unreviveable and never was. Antisemitism was too strong for that to happen.

Marek stand in poland is admireable, but he was not able to protect even one jew from the waves of antisemitism in post war Poland.

In the Zionist Youth movements in israel today, He is admired as a true Jewish Hero, with the mentioning of his anti-zionist opinions, as well as his co-zionist actions.

He was a dear friend and comrade all their life to Yizchak zuckerman and Zivia lubetkin of KIbbutz Lochamei-Hegataot in Israel, radical socialist-zionist heros an educators and social activists for themselves.

the stuff about bund activity that delayed the ghetto is complete nonsense, as well as claim that Zionists were collaborators by essence. Zionists were the leaders among the jewish resistance in WW2, and even the nazis recognize the Zionist Chalutsim as the toughest fighters in ghetto warsaw.
I don't cliam that Zionism is the key for bravery or moral fiber, but a movement for jewish self-soverinity, that makes the idea of resistance more vivid than traditional judaism. the Bund was very different in content but quite similar in its formation.

The people who were radical collaborators were usually of criminal, deeply assimilated, or converted origin, with weaker moral fiber, and all of those, including Abraham Gancawajch, were given the opportunity to ally with the jewish resistance, pay taxes to it, and some (mainly jewish police commanders) were executed for collaboration. this way - of an alliance - made it possible that the best bunker in the ghetto - Mila 18 - that was owned by head of the jewish criminals, hosted the command post of the Z.O.B.

In your post you twist the memory of the Holocaust in order to fit in your present agenda.

I reccommend everyone to read the actual writings of Marek Edelman, Zivia lubetkin and Izchak Zuckerman
to find out the truth about the Bund, zionism and the Jewish underground during WW2 in poland.

Erez Raviv

Boger of Hanoar Haoved Vehalomed.
member of The Ghetto fighters Museum in Lochamei Hagetaot, Israel.

Kim said...

Dear Erez, thank you for your comment.

It should be pointed out that you have incorrectly attribute the article on Marek Edelman to myself, however, it was actually written by Tony Greenstein (and originally appears on his blog).

As for my comments, I never said that that Marek Edelman was an "enemy of the Zionism or Zionists" as you claim and neither did Greenstein. However, Greenstein does point out that Zionists have attempt to distort the history of the Ghetto fighters and the uprising to suit their ideological agenda - ie. that of Zionism. With this I would agree.

In relation to the issue of whether or not Zionists collaborated with the Nazis, the fact is SOME did. This does not mean that all Zionists collaborated but quite a few leading Zionist leaders did and this has been well documented by Israeli historians such as Tom Segev (see Segev's book on Israel and the Holocaust - The Seventh Million) as well as other Israeli and non-Israeli historians.

Lenni Brenner, a well known anti-Zionist Jewish Marxist activist has written extensively on the issue of Nazi-Zionist collaboration. Attempts have been made to discredit Brenner and his documentation, but this has been unsuccessful.

In addition, it should be noted that Zionist leader Rudolf Kastner was found guilty by an Israeli court of collaborating with the Nazis. It has also been well documented that the Zionist terror gang, the Stern Gang (Lehi) and Jabotinsky's Revisionist movement flirted with Italian fascism.


Tony Greenstein said...

Kim has said most of what I want to say. My point is to differentiate between individuals and political movements. There were many young, socialist Zionists in the Warsaw Ghetto who did want to fight. The problem was their own organisations. Marek Edelman was quite blunt about the wasted time they had spent engaging in kibbutz training in Poland under the Nazis.

No organisation is responsible for individuals who collaborate and no doubt if one looks hard enough one will find such people in the Bund and communist party too. But it was the Zionist movement that was a collaborator movement, beginning with its Ha'avara transfer deal with the Nazis in 1933 which broke the worldwide boycott of Nazi Germany.

Edelman committed a cardinal sin. He continued to live in the diaspora and refused to immigrate to Israel. In addition he identified, critically, with the Palestinian resistance.

I didn't forget to mention the ZZW. Because as you know this was anything but a radical group. It was a revisionist Zionist group which idolised Vladimir Jabotinsky. It worked with right-wing Polish nationalists and was in essence fascist. Even fascists can fight fascists on occasions, though the revisionists were the worst collaborators in general.

Marek Edelman was right. Jews in the Polish ghettos were not anything like the Jews of Israel. The former were oppressed, hounded, the butt of racism and eventually over 3 million were murdered. Israeli Jews are arrogant racists and chauvnist red-necks whose favourite chant for a demonstration is 'Death to the Arabs'.

Of course there are a handful of principled anti-racist Israeli Jews who put their necks on the line. The Anat Kamm and Blaus. Amira Hass and the Who Profits from Occupation and Anarchists Against the wall Group.

They are indeed brave individuals who, like Ilan Pappe, bravely stood up to the vitriol and death threats that that secular Arab woman MK Haneen Zoabi has had to experience as a result of going on the Gaza Freedom Flotilla.

What is sad is that Erez Raviv doesn't appreciate that the key lesson to be learnt from the holocaust is that racism, wherever it may be found, is wrong and to be fought.

How can he justify selling land only to Jews, to operating a system of social segregation in every area of israeli society, refusing to allow Palesinians to return to israel after 2 years abroad if they are residents of Jerusalem but allowing me to 'return'? Or the deliberate destruction of olive trees by settlers and their vicious thuggery which goes unpunished by the Israeli army which arrests the victims instead.

When the Mavi Marmara was attacked and at least 9 killed, the Israeli military shot the eye out of a 21 year old American Jewish student Emily Henochowicz in Qualandiyaa wh was protesting about a check-point.

This is your 'Jewish' state, a state which is increasingly modelling itself on fascist ideas whilst 'leftist' socialist zionist idiots try to find excuses for its behaviour.