Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Vale Edelman

Recently, Marek Edelman, a great hero who stands as a beacon of integrity in dark times, died. It's (sadly, and you have to ask yourself why) a little-bruited piece of World War II history that the Jews of Warsaw fought back against the Nazis in a hopeless, desperate partisan action. They did not succeed but as Edelman himself said:

Those who were killed in action had done their duty to the end, to the last drop of blood that soaked into the pavements of the Warsaw ghetto.

It's easy to paint the Jewish people as villains in the Middle East, and for sure, there are among them greedy men and women who use others' fear and love of nation as tools to plunder for their own purses, just as there are in all nations, but the desire for security, and the understanding that Jews could not rely on us for their safety but must provide it for themselves were born in the destroyed ghetto.

It is a matter of great shame for us--not just for the Germans but for all of us, we were no better and if we have illusions that the UK's Jews would have survived had we lost the war, we should dispel them; and we too would have helped herd them onto trucks, staffed the camps and in many cases enthusiastically joined the killing--that a people could find that the neighbours they had had for centuries could consider them vermin to be exterminated. But the lesson we should draw from it--as I think Edelman would emphasise--is that we must not forget that we are capable of this. We should be alarmed at how the Roma are treated, particularly in Italy, and at how Muslims across Europe are talked about by some in the same way Jews were in the old Europe.

I urge you to read Edelman's compelling account of the Warsaw Uprising. It is not high literature but it is ferociously moving. But it is not just another story of man's inhumanity to man--although of course it is that--but a tribute to the enormous courage and love for each other the resisters had, shining examples to us all.


Blogger Paula Light said...

And let's not forget that the U.S. knew about the camps, but shrugged until PH, and also turned away the ship of refugees (I forget its name), sending those people back to their deaths.

I'm liking this new blog.

October 6, 2009 at 12:11 PM  

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