Happy Mother’s Day to Irena Sendler, a Catholic Pole, who smuggled some 2,500 Jewish children out of the Warsaw ghetto, from 1939-1943. She was assisted by about two dozen other members of Zegota, the Polish underground, but she alone knew the identities and locations of each child. When arrested and tortured by the Germans, she never revealed a single name. She barely escaped execution by firing squad, when members of Zegota bribed a German guard at the last minute. She passed away on May 12, 2008, at the age of 98. Continue reading
The Warsaw Ghetto Uprising began April 19, 1943. This noble ‘last stand’ by desperate Jews against the Germans became the first urban uprising in German-occupied Europe. Symbolically it stands as the most important Jewish uprising. It lasted less than a month and nearly all who participated lost their lives, but it inspired other uprisings at Sobibor and Treblinka and changed the story of millions walking in resignation to their death without a fight.
Niuta Teitelbaum, aka Little Wanda With the Braids, was one of the earliest volunteers for the Polish underground soon after Warsaw fell to the Germans in October 1939. The petite twenty-two year old devout Jew wore her blond hair in pigtails, which made her look like a sixteen-year-old girl, effectively diguising her real role – assassin. She parlayed her innocent looks to gain entrance to Gestapo headquarters, and silently shot an SS officer as he sat at his desk. The episode is but one of her daring moves.
Can we have a Holocaust Remembrance Day for all victims? The United Nations chose January 27 as the date for International Holocaust Remembrance Day, in honor of the day the Soviet Army reached Auschwitz-Birkenau in 1945, even though the war would not end for months. I mourn deeply, for I have walked the grounds of Auschwitz-Birkenau on a cold, fall evening, and felt the presence of ghosts from many nations, of different beliefs, and of different ethnicities. It’s a statement of fact, that the number of victims identified in the “Holocaust” remains a subset of the full Nazi Genocide. I hope that we can light a candle of respect to all victims. Remembrance. Respect. Honor.