"A Struggle Unparalleled in Human History": Survivors Remember the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising.
In the world of American Jewish Holocaust survivors in the postwar decades, the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising came to be the central symbol around which remembrance of the Holocaust revolved. There were many dates that survivors marked to honor their destroyed civilization. They mourned on the anniversaries that their families were killed, and the dates ghettoes were liquidated, or that concentration and death camps were liberated. Landsmanshaftn (hometown associations) marked the dates on which their communities were deported, or slaughtered. Yet no event bound survivors across geographic, political, and religious lines quite like the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, a symbol of strength amid weakness, and a moment of defiance in the middle of years of victimhood.
This article examines the ways that survivor organizations in New York City commemorated the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising in the decades after World War II, placing it at the center of their memorial practices, and helping to ensure that the unlikely story of defiance received recognition within the Jewish world and beyond. Survivors conceptualized the uprising as the central symbol of Jewish suffering, resistance, and rebirth. They were, of course, not alone in these efforts, yet their collective contribution to the formulation of Holocaust memorial ideas and practices has so far been under-examined. (1) These few decades, until the late 1970s, were years when a singular notion of the Holocaust had yet to crystallize, and these efforts by survivors helped to cement and popularize particular ways of thinking about European Jews' wartime suffering. Indeed, survivors collectively began to grapple with the meaning of the Holocaust even while the war was still continuing. New York City was, of course, not the only place where survivors gathered and negotiated their understandings of the Holocaust; nor was it the only place that they influenced the shape of Holocaust memory. Further study is certainly required to come to terms with how this question played out in other urban settings, large and small, where survivors found themselves after the war. Nevertheless, a focus on New York City from 1946 through the late 1960s helps to draw conclusions concerning the links between survivors' internal conceptions of the Holocaust and ideas that ultimately took shape beyond the survivor and even Jewish communities.
For many survivors, placing the resistance narrative at the center of their memorial life was not only cathartic, but ideological, even spiritual or religious. (2) For others, the Uprising was momentous, but remembering it served a broader purpose, a way to popularize stories of the Holocaust. For the latter, elevating the uprising was not ideological, but instrumental. A focus on the uprising served to emphasize symbolically that the fighters were "martyred in the cause of liberty," thus providing a pathway through which all survivors, whether or not they were veterans of a partisan movement or Warsaw inhabitants, could find some solace in the utter meaninglessness of their suffering. Emphasizing the uprising meant that they had not suffered in vain, their families had not died for nothing. Rather, they died as part of a broader struggle for Jewish survival, and for human freedom and dignity. Moreover, by linking the partisans' fight to the struggle for human liberty, survivors sought acceptance into American life, likening their cause to that of all Americans.
Katsetler Farband: the 1940s and 1950s
Among the earliest survivor organizations founded in the United States was the Farband fun gevezene yidishe katsetler un partizaner (Katsetler Farband), the United Jewish Survivors of Nazi Persecution.' It was established by survivors who arrived in New York in 1946, and who counted among their ranks participants in the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising. These survivors were mainly veterans of the Jewish labor movement in Poland, and the organization was Bundist in orientation, with many of the leaders also serving as functionaries of the newly-constituted Jewish Labor Bund in New York, as well as other Yiddish-oriented, social-democratic institutions. This would help shape the organization over the next two decades, its most active period, when the State of Israel was still consolidating, and American Jews had not yet fully committed themselves to supporting the project of Jewish statehood.
The Katsetler Farband was a small organization, with perhaps two thousand members, focused both on helping survivors resettle, and on memorializing the Holocaust. Its most important period of activity was in the 1950s, when it provided a network for newly-arrived survivors and refugees, and helped craft a narrative of the Holocaust from the survivors' own perspective. This was a period of global upheaval, a world still coming to terms with a devastating world war, but also settling into a new global conflict between two emerging superpowers. The 1950s were years when the second Red Scare dominated American life, and when socialist sympathies were seen as suspicious. It was also a period of increasing prosperity for American Jews, a generation after the borders had been closed to large-scale migration, when Jews were becoming better integrated into American institutions and culture. (4) All these factors combined to make it tough for the Katsetler Farband to make big inroads into a public conversation: a group of socialist, Yiddish-speaking, urban Jewish refugees was only able to reach a narrow audience at that time.
From the outset, the Katsetler Farband promoted its vision of how the Holocaust ought to be remembered, privileging narratives of resistance. Although small in number, the Katsetler Farband oversaw a busy calendar of activities and cultural undertakings--sponsoring regular Yiddish literary evenings featuring important Yiddish writers like Chaim Grade, organizing an orchestra, and arranging leisure activities like museum and theater visits. It also served a more practical function for its members, helping to provide aid and advice for survivors' resettlement, and to assist in finding employment and housing. The Katsetler Farband offered support for those navigating the complicated process of applying for German reparation money. It provided a space--physical and spiritual--for survivors to connect with one another and try to process their grief and trauma, to create a sense of community among survivors. (5)
From its very beginning in the 1940s, the Katsetler Farband privileged narratives of resistance, conceiving of itself as a "veterans' organization" among other military veterans' groups in the United States. The focus on resistance pivoted particularly on the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising. The Katsetler Farband's annual commemorations took place every April, and commemorative volumes were published to coincide with these gatherings. There is no doubt that the largely secular, socialist survivors leading this organization imbued the uprising with sacred meaning, with April 19 being the most important date on their calendar. In a 1952. speech, Vilna Ghetto survivor Simon Palevsky described the uprising as "a struggle unparalleled in human history, a fight that was the call to action in all ghettos and concentration camps." (6) Clearly, the significance of the uprising resonated far beyond those who survived the Warsaw Ghetto. The organization's annual memorial volume, Mir zaynen do [We Are Here] was filled with reflections on the uprising, its heroes, and personalities. Almost always, the writers in the volume invoked the holiness of those martyrs and the spiritual significance of the uprising to the post-war Jewish world. Specifically, it emphasized the importance of the uprising as a symbol of Jewish dignity and continuity. The first volume of Mir zaynen do declared, "The memory of the ghetto fighters, of the heroic partisans must become the holy property of the entire Jewish people in our epoch and in future generations." (7) This sense would only get stronger through the years. On the twentieth anniversary of the uprising, the Katsetler Farband leaders proclaimed that "the further we move away in time from those heroic days, the greater our appreciation for the heroism of the Jewish ghetto fighters grows; they didn't only fight for their own lives, but for Jewish national honor and for human freedom." (8)
The Katsetler Farband sought to emphasize both parochial concerns--emphasizing the Jewishness of the narrative--and ascribing a universal aim to the fighters, fighting "for our freedom and yours." (9) It was an organization founded by members of the Yiddish-speaking left--activists connected primarily with the Jewish Labor Bund, but also with the Labor Zionist Farband, the Jewish Labor Committee, and the Workmen's Circle. This balancing of the Jewish and the universal was central to their political outlook, and came to inform their approach to interpreting the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising. The sense that the fighters had fought for both Jewish and global commitments fit neatly with their longer view of Jewish history, which emphasized those moments and figures that struck that balance. (10) It was also the founders' grounding in the Jewish labor movement of Poland that helped shape the political direction of the movement, as it aligned itself with the Bund and the Workmen's Circle. It was an organization comprised predominantly of Polish-Jewish survivors; its language of operation was strictly Yiddish, and its programming emphasized Yiddish culture. Moreover, its Yiddish publications were principally concerned with events that had transpired in Poland and Lithuania, and in commemorating figures that loomed large in the Bundist collective memory, such as Warsaw Ghetto fighters Michal (Mikhl) Klepfisz and Abrasha Blum, and particularly the Bundist representative in the Polish Government-in-Exile, Shmuel Artur Zygielboym. (11)
The centrality of the uprising in the survivors' collective memory is made clear in a pamphlet published by the Katsetler Farband in 1952 that argued that Jews the world over should unite in establishing April 19 as the annual Holocaust memorial date. The pamphlet's author, Pinchas Shvartz, a Bundist and refugee who arrived at the beginning of World War II, opposed the decision of the Israeli government to set Israel's official memorial date as the 27th of the Hebrew month of Nisan, which would ensure it would never clash with Passover or Yom Ha'atzmaut. The only logical date for an annual day of mourning for Jews worldwide, according to Shvartz, was the day in which the Jews of the Warsaw Ghetto took up arms against the Nazis, April 19. The Jewish world, he wrote, must approach this question in a united way, "just as the ghetto fighters were united in their exalted lives, in their tragic struggle and in their heroic deaths." (12)
For leaders of the Katsetler Farband, this identification with the Warsaw Ghetto fighters also gave survivors moral authority on questions around Holocaust remembrance. They protested that the survivors' voices were being ignored in the broader Jewish community, despite the fact that they were the inheritors of the partisans' legacy. Moshe Grynbaum and Jacob Celemenski, the organization's president and secretary respectively, claimed that the Jewish world was already forgetting the Jewish victims of Nazism. They complained that in New York, Jewish organizations were holding dance evenings and comedy nights on April 19. "Can there be," they protested, "a bigger desecration of the martyrs than dance evenings and entertainment evenings on the anniversary of their death?" (13)
By constructing itself as a veterans' movement, the writers and leaders of the Katsetler Farband created the impression that a substantial number of survivors had participated in the armed struggle against Nazism. A 1953 article depicted the surviving Warsaw Ghetto fighters as the "veterans of our destruction." "They are," wrote the pseudonymous writer, "the inspiring and living symbols of the endurance of the suffering Jewish people." (14) This focus on resistance fed into an emerging hierarchy among survivors. This hierarchy privileged partisanship and physical resistance above all else, and was quite specific about who was to be considered a survivor at all. (15)
This heroic narrative occupied much more space in the pages of the Katsetler Farband publications than did stories of daily life and death in the ghettos and camps. In these journals, Warsaw was the epicenter of the Jews' continent-wide struggle for Jewish and human dignity. Even though partisans comprised a small minority of the Katsetler Farband's membership, the organization nonetheless gave disproportionate attention in its memorial activities to stories of resistance, imbuing the uprising with a kind of holiness that placed it in the pantheon of Jewish resistance dating back to the Maccabees. (16) The uprising gave meaning to the members' work in the postwar world. It served as inspiration, and provided a sense of humanity in the face of despair, a rallying cry that made telling the stories of the war more palatable, and which fit in with the survivors' broader view of Jewish history in which Jews in the diaspora struggled for the rights and dignity of Jews wherever they lived.
The meaning of the Holocaust was still far from settled in the first decade after the war, when the Katsetler Farband was at its most active. There was little consensus within the Jewish community about what ought to be the lesson drawn from the European Jews' persecution. Moreover, survivors expressed grave concern that the Holocaust was being ignored or forgotten. Survivors feared that with such pressing geo-political concerns as the onset of the Cold War, lengthy wars of decolonization, the Korean War, and America's changing relationship with the newly-reconstituted Federal Republic of Germany (West Germany), the world had moved on and wanted to leave behind the terrible experience of World War II. Even though, as historian Hasia Diner and others have demonstrated, there was steadily growing public awareness of what had befallen European Jewry, survivors themselves often felt excluded from that conversation, denied a voice when it was theirs that should have mattered most.
Cowardice or Heroism: Intellectuals and Survivors in the Early-1960s
The 1960s signaled a shift in how Holocaust narratives came to be crafted, with survivors responding to changing ideas about how Jewish victims experienced the war, and how they behaved during their years of subjugation. Prominent Jewish scholars in America began to tackle the question of Jewish reactions to Nazism in earnest. Across disciplines, these scholars argued that Jews had, at best, insufficiently resisted the Nazi onslaught, and at worst, complied with the Nazis in hastening their own destruction. In their estimation, the battle in the Warsaw ghetto was too little, too late, a symbol not of Jewish heroism, but of the much bigger story of Jewish passivity. Any emphasis on that single event only obscured the true tragedy of the Holocaust: that Jews failed to meaningfully resist the Nazis. (17) The early 1960s marked a significant moment in the development of Holocaust consciousness in the United States, as the stories of survivors were beamed onto television screens courtesy of the Eichmann Trial in Jerusalem. What the Holocaust would be in the mind of the broader public was not yet a settled question, and so the stakes were high in terms of how scholars and intellectuals would characterize victims and survivors.
Chief among those critical of the victims' responses was political philosopher Hannah Arendt, whose reporting on the Eichmann Trial caused great consternation in the survivor world. Her reports, published in book form in 1963 as Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil, are best known for their characterization of Adolf Eichmann as a blundering, ordinary office worker, a bureaucrat who simply carried out the will of more fanatical antisemites at the top of the Nazi hierarchy. He was not, she argued, a committed antisemite himself. This, for Arendt, was the most significant finding: that evil did not always take a monstrous form, but could be perpetrated by perfectly ordinary people. (18) What really raised the ire of survivors, though, was her discussion of the way the Nazis used the victims in the process of their own destruction. It was, she claimed, the darkest chapter in the whole story, the ultimate manifestation of the Nazis' evil. She was particularly damning in her assessment of the Judenrate (Jewish councils), whom she blamed for facilitating the large-scale deportations. (19)
Psychoanalyst Bruno Bettelheim was even more critical than Arendt. He suggested that Jews submitted passively to the Nazis' will, expanding on the claim that they went "like sheep to the slaughter." (20) Bettelheim argued that it was the Jews' failure to grasp the reality of the Nazi state that led to their destruction, their unwillingness to believe that Auschwitz was real. "The walk to the gas chamber," he wrote, "was only the last consequence of a philosophy of life-as-usual ... The first step was taken long before arrival at the death camp." (21) It was the fact that they did not take action early to evade the Nazi grasp that led them to the logical conclusion of their deaths in the extermination camps. Their failure to actively resist the Nazi genocide reflected a diasporic mentality grounded in two thousand years of accommodation to their host countries. This argument was taken up also by historian Raul Hilberg, whose monumental The Destruction of the European jews was the pioneering work in English-language historical writing on the Holocaust. He argued that the most common Jewish reaction was accommodation, and that Jewish passivity was rooted in millennia of accommodation and appeasement. The Jews, he claimed, had survived for so long because they did not take up arms on a large scale and found ways to adapt to their situation. Even in those instances in which Jews did take up arms, as in the Warsaw ghetto, it was invariably a local matter, insignificant in the efforts to slow down the Nazi annihilation of the Jews. (22)
For survivors, these arguments were, at best, a misrepresentation of Jewish responses to Nazism, and, at worst, a malicious slandering of the victims. The replies from survivor organizations were pointed. The Katsetler Farband worried that the world, including the Jewish world, had failed to recognize the true significance of the uprising, despite the growing consciousness about the Holocaust. "Among Jews," they wrote:
especially among the younger generation of Jews, the false, blasphemous opinion has spread that the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising was a desperate, episodic exception and that overall, East European Jewry allowed itself to be led "like sheep to the slaughter," because submissiveness and accommodation were truly the way of the "exilic Jew." (23)
The fact that eminent scholars were coming to such conclusions was great cause for alarm, making the need to respond pressing, particularly within Jewish communities. The only thing that provided solace in the survivors' "nightmare-filled nights," in their "endless sorrow," according to one article in Mir zaynen do was the "peerless epic of the heroic uprising in the Warsaw Ghetto, the most heroic of all battles against the bloody Nazi enemy, the battle that eternally rescued the honor of Jews and humanity." (24) Written in Yiddish, this was an internal call for survivors to take the lead in promoting the uprising as the symbol of the whole range of heroic Jewish responses to Nazi persecution. This sense of urgency was also driven by concern about ongoing Soviet antisemitism and the rise of neo-Nazism in the United States.
In 1963, the World Federation of Bergen-Belsen Survivors Associations, based in New York City, commissioned a volume specifically to refute the claims of Bettelheim and Hilberg. In the booklet, As Sheep to the Slaughter? The Myth of Cowardice, K. Shabbetai (pen name for Israeli journalist Shabbetai Klugman, a survivor of the Kovno ghetto) argued that no nation effectively offered substantial armed resistance to the Nazis. Like Arendt, he argued that the conditions under which Jews lived made wide-scale armed resistance virtually impossible. Unlike her, however, he also contended that there were many Jews who had acted heroically, sacrificing themselves to help their families, friends, and comrades in small ways, but whose stories remained buried in the ashes at Treblinka, Auschwitz, and many other sites throughout Europe. (15) Shabbetai principally took issue with Bettelheim's suggestion that widespread resistance was possible, given the impossible circumstances Jews faced. The definition of resistance, in his eyes, needed to be reframed, and the expectations of what victim groups could realistically have done shifted.
The newly-formed Warsaw Ghetto Resistance Organization (WAGRO) took this argument a step further in its response to Arendt, Bettelheim, and Hilberg. It published a booklet by survivor historian Alexander Donat entitled Jewish Resistance. Drawing on his moral authority as a survivor and a partisan, Donat angrily decried the scholarly "campaign desecrating the memory of our martyrs." "From the comfort of Chicago," Donat charged, "Bettelheim presumes to award patents of heroism and/or cowardice to Hitler's martyrs." These "retrospective heroes" were naive and misunderstood the suffocating reality of life under Nazism and the near-impossibility of launching a large-scale uprising. Donat pointed to the many ways in which Jews displayed courage in the face of certain death, as they engaged in a "stubborn, unending, continuous battle to survive." (16) Moreover, these scholars, particularly Arendt, misinterpreted the actions of the Jewish council leaders like Adam Czierniakow in Warsaw and Chaim Rumkowski in Lodz, who sought to alleviate the plight of their ghettos' inhabitants. (17)
Not only did the Jews fight to overcome starvation and disease, Donat argued, they "fought back against their enemies to a degree no other community anywhere in the world would have been capable of doing." (18) It was the uprising in the Warsaw Ghetto that truly symbolized the victims' dogged defiance of the Nazis. "The heroism of the handful of Warsaw youths shook the imagination of our generation," he wrote. "In the climax of our history martyrdom reached its most sublime expression, and in the unprecedented revolutionary tension there appeared a heroism that was the turning point of Jewish history and created a new type of Jew." (19) The significance of the uprising was not to be underestimated.
For the survivors then, this was not only a matter of correcting the historical record, but of giving the ghetto uprising its rightful place in the imagination of Jews and the world more broadly. In their eyes, their suffering and their participation in the events gave them alone the moral authority to refute the characterization of those scholars critical of Jewish responses to the Holocaust. They had unique insight into the true meaning of suffering and resistance under Nazism. And as Dorothy Rabinowitz showed in her study of survivors in the United States, the topic of resistance was never far from survivors' minds. "Late or soon," she wrote, "talk turned to the issue of resistance. This was true whether they were sophisticates and intellectuals or people who, but for their recent history, might have been classed among the simple, unworldly folk of the world." (20)
Survivor organizations fought back against the sentiment that Jews accepted their fate meekly, that they were the latest in a long line of Jewish civilizations that failed to fight back against their oppressors. By pointing to the struggle of the Warsaw Ghetto, in particular by trying to publicize it beyond the Jewish world, survivors sought to emphasize that they possessed the moral authority to shape how the Holocaust would be remembered, and to return to the victims a sense of dignity that they felt was under fire.
The Warsaw Ghetto Resistance Organization: the 1960s and 1970s
The sense among some survivors that the martyrdom of Jewish resisters was being systematically ignored, convinced the founders of WAGRO that it was necessary for survivors to be more proactive in disseminating knowledge and information about the Holocaust. Not only could survivors alone know the true meaning of the war, but only they could accurately communicate the Jewish experience of World War II. Historians, psychologists, and philosophers could only speculate. Even Bettelheim, who had been imprisoned in Dachau and Buchenwald before the outbreak of the war, could not faithfully interpret the extent of suffering that Jews experienced after the Nazis invaded Poland. The survivors involved in WAGRO felt the pressing need to broaden this conversation beyond the survivor world, to draw on all their moral authority in order to properly honor those who died, and to validate the suffering of others.
WAGRO promoted the universal significance of the Holocaust, and shaped its understanding through an American lens, doing more than perhaps any other survivor organization up to that point to bridge the gap between the survivor world and the broader American public. (31) WAGRO was established in 1963, in advance of the uprising's twentieth anniversary by a small group of Jewish survivors from Warsaw. There appears to be little crossover between WAGRO and the Katsetler Farband, although Vladka Meed, a prominent voice in the survivor community, seems to have been involved in both. The groups were not in competition, as WAGRO sought to expand beyond the narrower survivor audience that the Katsetler Farband served. According to Eodz Ghetto and Auschwitz survivor Roman Kent, "WAGRO was instrumental in bringing Yom Ha-Shoah commemorations to local synagogues and Jewish community centers all over the world." (32) This may be an overstatement, but WAGRO certainly had a disproportionate impact on Holocaust remembrance in New York City, with its annual commemoration attracting audiences of thousands. (33) By its very nature, WAGRO privileged the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising narrative as central: It was an organization comprising former ghetto fighters and smugglers from one particular ghetto. Its membership was small, at most a few hundred according to its own literature, plus up to five hundred "Friends of WAGRO," non-members on its mailing list. (34) Yet WAGRO left a broader legacy, one that helped to bring stories and symbols of the Holocaust to a wider audience than ever before.
WAGRO was interested in promulgating stories of Jewish resistance in the American public sphere. When it was first founded, its central aim was to establish "a memorial which would for all times stand as a symbol of Jewish martyrdom and resistance in Europe during World War II." (35) Indeed, its first decade was marked by a frustrating and ultimately failed attempt to put a memorial on the Riverside Park site. Having commissioned a design from Nathan Rapoport, best known for his Warsaw ghetto memorial in Warsaw, WAGRO's leaders unsuccessfully lobbied New York City officials to approve and build Rapoport's monument. The city's Arts Commission ultimately rejected it as too big and too gloomy for a public park. (36)
At the same time, a group of Bundists had commissioned Rapoport to create a different design for a monument on the same site to honor Shmuel Zygielbojm, the Bund's representative in the Polish governmentin-exile, who had committed suicide in the wake of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising. The Bund sculpture depicted a figure engulfed in flames, leaping forward towards the viewer, a stark, confronting accusation to the world that had failed to listen to Zygielbojm's warnings about the Nazis' destruction of European Jews. Like WAGRO's design, the Zygielbojm monument was deemed too depressing and too graphic. (37)
With their attempts to establish a permanent public memorial frustrated, WAGRO's leaders shifted their energies to organizing an annual public commemoration and publishing memorial volumes with stories from the Warsaw Ghetto and beyond. (38) WAGRO's output showed that despite being founded by a group of Warsaw Ghetto survivors, its central concern was publicizing the Holocaust more broadly. One of the reasons they focused their efforts on the Warsaw Ghetto, according to founder Jack Eisner, was that the story of the uprising was the only way to cut through to the public. "It was an embarrassment to speak about the Holocaust," he told ethnographer Lucia Meta Ruedenberg.
In the 1960s, until the late 1970s, if you talked about the Warsaw Ghetto, you could get a hall, television would come, the radio, and some people would come. The rest were ashamed to say that these were survivors from a camp [...] The Warsaw Ghetto was an ace. So that's why we were pushing the Warsaw Ghetto. This was the only thing that the public were buying. (39)
The uprising, for WAGRO, was only a starting point to begin to tell the bigger story of Jewish suffering. The organization was not like a landsmanshaft, a hometown association focused on commemoration of the destruction of a single city. Its focus on Warsaw was instrumental, intended to expand popular understanding of the Holocaust. The uprising, therefore, served broader purposes as an episode in history that could attract wide attention. It was a lens through which people could come to see that Jewish suffering and reactions to it had not been uniform, and had something to teach American Jews and other Americans. (40) To this end, its activities were conducted mainly in English, rather than in Yiddish or Polish, even though English was not the members' mother tongue (for many, it might have been their fourth or fifth language). Many other survivor groups and landsmanshaftn, by contrast, conducted their affairs strictly in Yiddish, and were speaking to an internal audience, either of survivors, or American Jews.
Despite this openness, progress did not come without its challenges, and the organization was not immune from internal strife. Founding member Joseph Kurtzeba, a surviving member of the Warsaw Ghetto underground and a theatre director after the war, complained that the organization was overrun by "low class" Yiddishists. These survivors, he claimed, did not accept other survivors who were not from the same social class as them. A "Yiddishist in this context," he told the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in a 1995 interview, "didn't know the language of the country but only spoke Yiddish and now wanted to remake history in the image of their particular social class." These Yiddishists wore their "concentration camp star as a congressional medal of honor."
Any Jew who had not been to a concentration camp can only be relegated to secondary or tertiary role because they were the front line troops. If you were not in a concentration camp, you don't count. Your voice is not important. You were too assimilated. If you know Polish literature, if you want to speak your mother tongue, which was Polish in my case, and the case of Anielewicz, that's secondary. Yiddish is our language, concentration camp is our passport and that's that. They would not admit any dissenting voices. (41)
Kurtzeba, who helped found the organization, left after only a year or so. This may have been part of a broader problem in the world of survivor organizations, which came to be dominated particularly by Yiddish-speaking Polish Jews. Even Ernest Michel, a German Jewish survivor who achieved some prominence as a founder of the World Gathering of Holocaust Survivors in 1981 (a group which WAGRO leaders were instrumental in creating), felt alienated from other survivor groups. Although he was a close friend of WAGRO president Benjamin Meed, Michel never felt welcome in organizations like WAGRO as a German Jew. Very few German survivors, he claimed, were involved in the "survivor mood." (42) It was likely the emphasis on the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising that alienated survivors who were not Polish Jews, who may not have been able to relate to a distinctly Polish Jewish story.
Nonetheless, by the 1970s, WAGRO had expanded its activities and influence. Beginning in 1972, WAGRO's annual commemoration took place at Temple Emmanuel, one of the oldest centers for Reform Judaism in the United States. It was a venue that WAGRO leaders saw as politically unaffiliated, a neutral site where people across the political and cultural spectrum would come to commemorate the Holocaust. It could accommodate much larger audiences than previously used sites. The WAGRO commemoration quickly became the largest annual Holocaust memorial event in New York City, attracting dozens of Jewish organizations as cosponsors; prominent city, state, and federal officials as keynote speakers; and international figures. It contrasted markedly with other commemorations, many of which took place outdoors at symbolic sites like the memorial stone in Riverside Park, in the ballrooms of hotels, or in busy locations like Times Square. The founders were clear that partnering with New York's most prominent synagogue would give the commemorations an air of solemnity, and appeal to a broader Jewish audience, if not a wider American one. Almost immediately, attendance was in the thousands. There were often lines around the block, and the organizers set up satellite venues to which the proceedings could be broadcast. (43) WAGRO's ceremony adapted a set of Jewish rituals to this secular ceremony, including the lighting of memorial candles, and the recitation of Kaddish and El Male Rahamim. The commemorations typically also included speeches by survivors, greetings from other Jewish and non-Jewish organizations and individuals, and the singing of the American and Israeli national anthems. (44)
WAGRO, in contrast to the Katsetler Farband, observed Israel's Holocaust memorial day, Yom Hashoah, Nissan 27 on the Hebrew calendar, which fell in April or early May. While they agreed with the Bundists and socialists in the Katsetler Farband that the outbreak of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising was the pivotal date around which remembrance should revolve, they also saw it as narrowing the potential to include a broader Jewish audience. The Israeli government had designated 27 Nissan as Israel's official day of mourning for the Holocaust victims so that the day would never coincide with Passover or Israeli Independence Day. WAGRO therefore adopted the Israeli practice because it would help ensure that its own memorial activities were accessible to the largest number of people. To this end, it also made sure that its memorial evenings would take place on Sunday. Because WAGRO was concerned with unity among survivors and Jews, and was nominally non-political, it made sense that it would follow the lead of the Israel memorial authority. (45)
Moreover, despite its ostensibly apolitical nature, WAGRO inclined toward Zionism, in contrast with the Bundist-leaning Katsetler Farband. WAGRO thus regularly acknowledged the importance of the State of Israel, and directly linked its founding to the bravery of the ghetto fighters. "There is no doubt," wrote editor Al Kooper in the WAGRO commemorative journal in 1968, "that the self-sacrifice of the Warsaw heroes gave inspiration and impetus to the Jewish people to fight for and achieve a nation of their own." (46) This linking of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising to the rise of Israel was common within Israel from the outset, but took longer to catch on in the United States. (47) This may also reflect the fact that American Jews, by the end of the 1960s, were much more active and outspoken in their support for Israel than they had been previously, as the 1967 war sparked an upsurge of American Zionism, with American Jews more willing to fundraise for, visit, and even move to Israel. (48)
Paradoxically, despite its linking of the uprising to the State of Israel and Zionism, WAGRO also helped to make it a symbol of the universal struggle for freedom, rather than of narrow Jewish heroism and continuity. This contrasted markedly with the focus of the Katsetler Farband, which, despite its lofty, universalizing rhetoric, drew more specifically Jewish meaning from the battle and was more focused on bringing together a certain subset of survivors.
The Warsaw Ghetto Uprising Beyond Survivor Institutions: the 1960s Onwards
In formulating their own conception of what ought to be remembered and how, survivor organizations like the Katsetler Farband and WAGRO helped to lay the foundation for a broader awareness of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising. Indeed, by the 1960s, the uprising occupied a prominent place in an emerging public understanding of the Holocaust as an event from which universal lessons could be drawn. Moreover, exhibitions, commemorations, publications, and public proclamations began to challenge the notion of Jewish passivity more broadly. This was all thanks largely to the advocacy of groups like WAGRO and the Katsetler Farband.
The survivors involved in these organizations were also active outside of survivor organizations in promoting their understanding of the uprising and the Holocaust. The early 1960s, just as survivors were finding their voice through organizations like WAGRO, saw a flurry of activity in which narratives of the Holocaust reached the American public. The uprising's twentieth anniversary in 1963 offered an especially good opportunity to increase the scope of memorial undertakings. There were several places where survivors played a central role in publicizing the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising story. The YIVO Institute for Jewish Research in New York, for example, launched the exhibition "Life, Struggle, and Uprising in the Warsaw Ghetto" in April 1963. YIVO, itself a kind of survivor, was the most important postwar American institution to collect documentation and publish scholarship on the Holocaust. Its staff and leadership included many survivors, including the survivor-historian Phillip Friedman, whose research helped pioneer the field of Holocaust studies. (49) The 1963 exhibition, comprising photos and documents from the Warsaw Ghetto, placed particular emphasis on the uprising, which it described as "a symbol of the vitality of the Jewish people." The exhibition guided visitors through the difficulties of life in the ghetto, and culminated in an entire floor dedicated to telling the story of the uprising and its aftermath. Throughout, the exhibition emphasized the resilience of the ghetto inhabitants, their creativity and courage in the darkest times, setting up the episode of the uprising by establishing the terrible conditions in which Warsaw Jews lived and died. (50) Senator Jacob Javits said at the exhibition opening that the uprising had "become a milestone in Jewish history and in the annals of recorded heroism." (51)
The Jewish Labor Committee (JLC) was another example of an American Jewish organization in which survivors promoted a vision of Holocaust commemoration with the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising at its center. Vladka Meed, who worked as a smuggler in the Warsaw Ghetto, was the most important figure promoting the JLC's programs. She was also an early leader of the Katsetler Farband, and along with her husband, Benjamin Meed, a founder of WAGRO. From as early as the late-1940s, she traveled around the country telling her story, sponsored by the JLC. In the early-1970s, she accelerated the JLC's activities as its education director. In that capacity, she initiated a film-strip project, narrated by the Broadway star Theodore Bikel, which went out to hundreds of Colleges and Universities around the United States. (52) Later, as JLC vice president, she initiated a program to train teachers in Holocaust education. (53) For Meed, the uprising and her own experiences as a young woman in wartime Warsaw served as a pathway to broader public consciousness about the Holocaust. (54)
The work that survivors had undertaken in the 1950s, and which was intensifying by the early-1960s was thus beginning to garner more attention. It became commonplace in New York for city and state officials to acknowledge the uprising as a monumental event with universal significance. In 1961, New York governor Nelson Rockefeller issued a formal proclamation declaring April 19th that year "Warsaw Ghetto Day," stating that the day "marked a triumph of the human spirit over tyranny." (55) In addition, at the urging of the Zionist Organization of America, New York City mayor Robert Wagner renamed Times Square "Warsaw Ghetto Square" on the uprising's anniversary each year in the early 1960s, a liminal yet tangible form of recognition, turning one of the world's busiest crossroads into a memorial site. (56) "No words can erase their suffering and sacrifice," Wagner said in his dedication. "Surely, no words can repay the debt owed them by all humanity." (57)
Perhaps the clearest sign of public recognition was President John F. Kennedy's proclamation praising the ghetto fighters and asserting their significance to all humankind. "Though they lacked both military resources and a military tradition," he proclaimed, "they were able to conduct their struggle against the overwhelming forces of the Nazi occupiers for more than three weeks, thereby providing a chapter in the annals of human heroism, an inspiration to the peace-loving people of the world and a warning to would-be oppressors which will long be remembered." (58) Not only was the uprising taking center stage in growing public awareness of the Holocaust, but it was now being imbued more often with a universalizing message, one that tied into American values of freedom, no doubt shaped by the Cold War context. It was a period in which the Cold War threatened to break out into open war between the United States and the Soviet Union; when the black Civil Rights movement was gaining traction and securing the rights of African-Americans; when colonized peoples were struggling for their independence. It was a time when American Jewry began to rally around Soviet Jews, campaigning to allow them to emigrate from the USSR. Notions of freedom, of struggles against oppression, were at the forefront of the national conversation. The Warsaw Ghetto Uprising was no longer predominantly, as it had been to the Katsetler Farband, proof of Jewish resilience and heroism, but was now also part of the global struggle against tyranny, at least in the Western imagination. By the 1980s, this narrative had become consolidated in American public life, largely thanks to the tireless efforts of survivors.
Survivors organized themselves into many different kinds of organizations in the decades after the war. Some sought to bring together survivors with diverse experiences; others created a space for survivors from specific camps, ghettos, or cities. Some were Yiddish-speaking, others conducted their business in English, German, Hungarian or other European languages. Many were non-partisan, others organized along political lines.
In the early decades after the war though, the icon that unified the survivor world, that helped guarantee survivors' integration in American life, and that propelled the Holocaust into the broader American consciousness was the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising. All survivors, and Jews, could bask in its reflected glow; all Americans could recognize in it their own nation's struggle for human liberty, whether or not there was in fact any resemblance. This highlights the success of survivors both to construct themselves as part of America's own history, but also to help make Americans feel connected to the Jews' historic struggles.
In an age during which Holocaust memory in the United States is dominated by a few iconic sites, people, and artworks--Auschwitz, Anne Frank, Elie Wiesel, Schindler's List--it is difficult to grasp the centrality of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising to Holocaust memory in the immediate postwar decades. Yet it was the most consistently emphasized narrative among survivor communities and beyond at the time. It was around the Warsaw Ghetto that survivors developed a language, a set of rituals, and a calendar that would form the basis of the Holocaust memorial culture that is more familiar today, even if the uprising itself is less visible. This sacralization of the Holocaust relied on this foundational mythology, with its mixture of suffering, struggle, and heroism that helped to establish a narrative of redemption.
In some ways, the memorial in Riverside Park today represents the fate of the Warsaw Ghetto narrative in popular memory of the Holocaust. While it promised to stand as the eternal symbol of Jewish heroism and resistance, today it is neatly tucked away in a Jewish neighborhood in Manhattan, easy to miss, the site of an ever-shrinking commemoration organized by the children of Bundists and others nostalgic for a lost world. Nonetheless, these early efforts at memorialization set the tone for the Holocaust memorial culture that would prevail from the late 1970s onwards, which carried a more universal message and was geared towards a broader audience. The rituals, symbols, and language developed around the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising would stick, as American society at large continued to remember the destruction of European Jewry.
(1.) Until recently, the general assumption that underpinned historical writing on Holocaust memory in the United States was that survivors overwhelmingly kept quiet about their experiences, as American Jews were not interested in hearing the difficult stories. This situation, according to that narrative, was upended through the 1960s, as the Eichmann Trial and Israel's 1967 war led to more and more American Jews placing the Holocaust at the center of their own Jewish identity. In recent years, this narrative has been widely challenged by historians who claim that, in fact, American Jews have been remembering the Holocaust since the immediate postwar period. See particularly Peter Novick, The Holocaust in American Life (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1999); Norman G. Finkelstein, The Holocaust Industry: Reflections on the Exploitation of Jewish Suffering (London: Verso, 2000); Kirsten Fermaglich, American Dreams and Nazi Nightmares: Early Holocaust Consciousness and Liberal America, 1957-1965 (Waltham: Brandeis University Press, 2007); Hasia R. Diner, We Remember with Reverence and Love: American Jews and the Myth of Silence after the Holocaust, 1945-1962 (New York: New York University Press, 2009); David Cesarani and Eric J. Sundquist, eds., After the Holocaust: Challenging the Myth of Silence (London: Routledge, 2012); Eliyana Adler and Sheila Jelen, eds., Reconstructing the Old Country: American Jewry in the Post-Holocaust Decades (Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 2017); and Jan Schwarz, Survivors and Exiles: Yiddish Culture after the Holocaust (Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 2015).
(2.) In general, these were secular organizations with mainly secular members. Although the organizations used religious imagery and rituals, as I highlight below, the Orthodox survivors that landed in New York were not a significant element in them. As other scholars have shown, the Orthodox and particularly Hasidic survivors had a very different understanding of the causes and consequences of the Nazi persecution of Jews. These were predominantly shaped by their continuing commitment to Judaism and their faith in the omnipotence of God. This is another area that requires further investigation. For more on Ultra-Orthodox understandings of the Holocaust in both the United States and in Israel, see Karolina Krysinska and Jozef Corveleyn, '"I was holding on to my ancestral merit': Religious Coping and the Holocaust in the Light of Hasidic Tales of Survival," Holocaust Studies: A Journal of Culture and History 19, no. 2 (2013): 65-90; Kimmy Caplan, "The Holocaust in Contemporary Israeli Haredi Popular Religion," Modern Judaism 22 (2002): 142-168; Lloyd Siegel, "Holocaust Survivors in Hasdidic and Ultra-Orthodox Jewish Populations," Journal of Contemporary Psychotherapy 11, no. 1 (1980): 15-31; Adam S. Ferziger, "Holocaust, Hurban, and Haredization: Pilgrimages to Eastern Europe and the Realignment of American Orthodoxy," Contemporary Jewry 31 (2011): 25-54.
(3.) Literally translated as the Union of Former Jewish Concentration Camp Inmates and Partisans. It is not clear why the Katsetler Farband leaders chose to give an English name that was not a direct translation, but it was most likely to allow for a broader pool of members.
(4.) Scholarly work on American Jewish life after World War II is a growing field. See, for example, Hasia R. Diner, The Jews of the United States, 1654 to 2000 (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2006); Deborah Dash Moore, To the Golden Cities: Pursuing the American Jewish Dream in Miami and L.A. (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1996); Deborah Dash Moore, Gl Jews: How World War II Changed a Generation (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2006); Edward S. Shapiro, A Time for Healing: American Jewry since World War II (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1992); Michael E. Staub, Torn at the Roots: Jewish Liberalism in Crisis (New York: New York University Press, 2002); and Jonathan Sarna, American Judaism: A History (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2004).
(5.) On the Katsetler Farband, see David Slucki, "A Community of Suffering: Jewish Holocaust Survivor Networks in Postwar America," Jewish Social Studies 22, no. 2 (2017): 116-145.
(6.) Simon Palevsky, speech at Katsetler Farband commemoration, April 1952, folder 11, box 1, RG 1479, Simon Palevsky Papers, YIVO Institute for Jewish Research, New York (henceforth YIVO).
(7.) Farband fun Gev. Yidishe Katsetler un Partizaner, "Zeyer ondenk darf vern dem eygntum fun gants folk!," Mir zaynen do i (1951): 1.
(8.) "20-ter yortog fun varshever geto-oyfshtand," Mir zaynen do 6 (1963): 2.
(10.) On Bundists during and after the Holocaust, see David Slucki, The International Jewish Labor Bund after 1945: Toward a Global History (New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 2012); Daniel Blatman, For Our Freedom and Yours: The Jewish Labour Bund in Poland 1939-1949 (London: Vallentine Mitchell, 2003).
(11.) See, for example, S. Dubnow-Erlich, "Sh. Zigelboym (Artur): tsu zayn tsentn yortsayt," Mir Zaynen Do 3 (1953): 4.
(12.) Pinchas Shvartz, Eyn natsyonaler troyer-tog oder etlekbe natsyonale troyer-teg (New York: Farband fun gevezene yidishe katsetler un partizaner, 1952), 15.
(13.) Preface to Pinchas Shvartz, Eyn natsyonaler troyer-tog, 6-8.
(14.) M. P., "Vegn katsetler farband," Mir zaynen do 3 (1953): 10.
(15.) On how this played out in the Katsetler Farband, see David Slucki, "A Community of Suffering," 131-138.
(16.) A sample of around one hundred membership forms from 1949 and 1950 contain fewer than five applicants who were active partisans. Katsetler Farband membership forms, folder 967, box 47, RG 719, Moshe Kligsberg Papers, YIVO.
(17.) Richard Middleton-Kaplan provides a genealogy of this "myth" of inaction: Richard Middleton-Kaplan, "The Myth of Jewish Passivity," in Jewish Resistance against the Nazis, Patrick Henry, ed. (Washington, DC: The Catholic University of America Press, 2014), 3-26. Excellent summaries of this debate can be found in Tom Lawson, Debates on the Holocaust (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2010), 235-269; Robert Rozett, "Jewish Resistance," in The Historiography of the Holocaust, Dan Stone, ed. (Houndmills, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2006), 341-364. One of the most important historical accounts of the uprising is Israel Gutman, Resistance: The Warsaw Ghetto Uprising (Boston: Mariner/Houghton Mifflin, 1994). See also Martin Gallin, and Isaac Kowalski. Anthology on Armed Jewish Resistance: 1939-1945-. Vol. 2. (Brooklyn: Jewish Combatants Publishing House, 1992).
(18.) Hannah Arendt, Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil (New York: Penguin Books, 2006).
(19.) As Deborah Lipstadt points out, Arendt was hardly alone in criticizing the Jewish Councils--the ghetto inhabitants themselves held enormous contempt for the Judenrate. She highlights the ways in which many critics misread Arendt to make her narrative fit neatly alongside those of other scholars. See Deborah Lipstadt, Holocaust: An American Understanding (New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 2016), 51-52. Although her concept of the "banality of evil" has entered the popular lexicon, Arendt has been shown to be wrong about Eichmann, at least in her assessment of him as simply a cog in the machine. See, for example, Christopher Browning, Collected Memories: Holocaust History and Postwar Testimony (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 2003); Richard J. Golsan and Sarah Misemer, The Trial That Never Ends: Hannah Arendt's 'Eichmann in Jerusalem' in Retrospect (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2017); David Cesarani, Becoming Eichmann: Rethinking the Life, Crimes, and Trial of a 'Desk Murderer' (Cambridge: Da Capo Press, 2007).
(20.) The expression "like sheep to the slaughter" has Biblical roots, but in the context of the Jews' reactions to Nazism, the phrase can be traced back to Vilna ghetto partisan Abba Kovner, who, in a plea for Jews to join him in armed resistance, proclaimed: "We will not be led like sheep to slaughter." Richard Middleton-Kaplan argues, citing Yehuda Bauer, that Kovner was not himself suggesting that Jews had been led like sheep to the slaughter, and that the plea was later mischaracterized by intellectuals like Bettelheim, Arendt, and Viktor Frankl. See Middleton-Kaplan, "The Myth of Jewish Passivity," 6-15. See also Yael S. Feldman, "'Not as Sheep Led to Slaughter?' On Trauma, Selective Memory, and the Making of Historical Consciousness," Jewish Social Studies 19, no. 3 (2013): 139-169.
(21.) Bruno Bettelheim, "The Ignored Lesson of Anne Frank," Harper's Magazine, November 1960, 48.
(22.) Raul Hilberg, The Destruction of the European Jews (Chicago: Quadrangle Books, 1967), 666-667.
(23.) L. Shtern, " 19-ter april," Mir zaynen do 6 (1963): 5-6.
(25.) K. Shabbetai, As Sheep to the Slaughert: The Myth of Cowardice (New York: World Federation of Bergen Belsen Survivors' Associations, 1963).
(26.) Alexander Donat, Jewish Resistance (New York: Warsaw Ghetto Resistance Organization, 1964), 5-6.
(27.) Donat, Jewish Resistance, 24-27.
(28.) Donat, Jewish Resistance, 6.
(29.) Donat, Jewish Resistance, 10-11.
(30.) Dorothy Rabinowitz, New Lives: Survivors of the Holocaust Living in America (New York: Alfred Knopf, 1977), 177.
(31.) Much has been written on the "Americanization" of Holocaust memory. See particularly Hilene Flanzbaum, The Americanization of the Holocaust (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1999); Alvin H. Rosenfeld, The End of the Holocaust (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2011); Novick, The Holocaust in American Life-, Diner, We Remember with Reverence and Love; and Lipstadt, Holocaust: An American Understanding.
(32.) Roman Kent, Courage Was My Only Option (New York: Vantage Press, 2008), 255.
(33.) The only substantial work on WAGRO and its history is Lucia Meta Ruedenberg, "Remember 6,000,000: Civic Commemoration of the Holocaust in New York City" (PhD diss., New York University, 1994).
(34.) Memorandum from WAGRO, 1964, Folder 33, Box 173, WAG.025.003, records of the Jewish Labor Committee, part III, NYU Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archive.
(35.) Excerpt from WAGRO constitution, in Commemoration Journal: 32nd Anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, (New York: Warsaw Ghetto Resistance Organization, 1975), 3
(36.) On the attempts to establish the memorial at Riverside Park, see Rochelle Saidel, Never Too Late to Remember: The Politics Behind New York City's Holocaust Museum (New York: Holmes and Meier, 1996).
(37.) Wayne Jebian, "The Missing Monument," Columbia Journal in American Studies 1, no. 1 (1995); William Farrell, "City Rejects Park Memorials to Slain Jews," New York Times, February 11, 1965, 1 and 9.
(38.) For a more detailed account of the ongoing efforts to establish a permanent memorial in New York City, see Rochelle G. Saidel, Never Too Late to Remember.
(39.) Ruedenberg, "Remember 6,000,000," 158-159.
(40.) For a discussion of Holocaust icons, see Oren Baruch Stier, Holocaust Icons: Symbolizing the Shoah in History and Memory (New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 2015), 1-31.
(41.) Transcript of interview with Joseph Kurtzeba, June 6, 1995, RG-50.030*0339, 36-37, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.
(42.) Transcript of Interview with Ernest Michel, December 28, 1989, RG-50.165 "'0077, 4-5, William Helmreich Oral History Collection, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.
(43.) By the mid-1980s, with the Holocaust much more visible in American public life, WAGRO shifted its ceremony to Madison Square Garden, where audiences peaked at around twenty thousand. For a more detailed account of how this evolved, see Ruedenberg, "Remember 6,000,000," 63-177. This need for a shift was the result of a number of developments. Among the most important were President Carter's establishment of a President's Commission on the Holocaust, headed by Elie Weisel, which helped set in motion the process of building a national memorial and museum in Washington, DC; and the release and popularity of the 1978 television mini-series, Holocaust, starring Meryl Streep.
(44.) For a sample program, Folder 33, Box 173, WAG.025.003, records of the Jewish Labor Committee, part III, NYU Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archive. Lucia Meta Ruedenberg described the 1993 commemoration in great detail. See Ruedenberg, Remember 6,000,000, 178-Z39.
(45.) Hirsch Altusky, "Velkhe date darf optseykhenen dem khurbn," Algemeyner zburnal, May 23, 1975, 11; Ruedenberg, "Remember 6,000,000," 158-175.
(46.) Al Kooper, "Message from the Journal Chairman," WAGRO Journal (1968): 4.
(47.) See Tom Segev, The Seventh Million: The Israelis and the Holocaust (New York: Henry Holt and Co., 2000); Idith Zertal, Israel's Holocaust and the Politics of Nationhood (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2011); Ronit Lentin, Israel and the Daughters of the Shoah: Reoccupying the Territories of Silence (New York: Berghahn Books, 2000); Anita Shapira, "The Holocaust: Private Memories, Public Memory," Jewish Social Studies 4, no. 2 (1998): 40-58; Hanna Yablonka, Survivors of the Holocaust: Israel after the War (Houndsmills, Basingstoke: Macmillan, 1999).
(48.) For an overview of the impact of the Six Day War on American Jews, see Sara Yael Hirschhorn, City on a Hilltop: American Jews and the Israeli Settler Movement (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2017).
(49.) See Laura Jockusch, Collect and Record!: Jewish Holocaust Documentation in Early Postwar Europe (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2015); Natalia Aleksiun, "Philip Friedman and the Emergence of Holocaust Scholarship: A Reappraisal," Simon Dubnow Institute Yearbook 11 (2012), 333-346; Roni Stauber, Laying the Foundations for Holocaust Research: The Impact of the Historian Philip Friedman (Gottingen: Wallstein, 2009).
(50.) Life, Struggle, and Uprising in the Warsaw Ghetto (New York: YIVO Institute for Jewish Research, 1963).
(51.) "YIVO Opens Exhibit of Pictures Showing Nazi Cruelty in Warsaw Ghetto," Jewish Telegraphic Agency, April 23, 1963.
(52.) Warsaw Ghetto Filmstrip Materials, folders 42-51, box 363, WAG.025.003, records of the Jewish Labor Committee, part III, NYU Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archive.
(53.) See Rochelle G. Saidel, "Vladka Meed," Jewish Women: A Comprehensive Historical Encyclopedia. Jewish Women's Archive, accessed on December 1, 2017, https://jwa. org/encyclopedia/article/meed-vladka.
(54.) Meed offered numerous oral history interviews. For two that touch specifically on her postwar career, see Vladka Meed, interview by William Helmreich, December 18, 1989, RG-50.165*0074, William Helmreich Oral History Collection, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum; Vladka Meed, Oral History Memoir, December 30, 1981 and February 18, 1982, box 347 no. 6, Oral Histories, William E. Weiner Oral History Library of the American Jewish Committee, Dorot Jewish Division, New York Public Library.
(55.) "President Kennedy Praises Heroism of Warsaw Ghetto Martyrs," Jewish Telegraphic Agency, April 13, 1961.
(56.) See for example, "A Time to Remember," New York Daily News, April 20, 1963, 6.
(57.) Text of speech at Warsaw Ghetto Commemoration Day, Times Square Renaming, April 29, 1965, folder 1, box 060057W, Speeches Series, Robert F. Wagner Documents Collection.
(58.) John F. Kennedy, "Proclamation 3523 The Warsaw Ghetto Uprising," March 4, 1963. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project, http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/Ppid324062.
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