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political world

Song of the Murdered Jewish People

jan peczkis|Thursday, March 3, 2016

Yitzhak Katzenelson considers the implications of the JUDENRAETE. He then dwells on the forced evacuation of the Warsaw Ghetto, and the dispatch of its Jewish residents to Treblinka. He also includes the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising. [I thank Polish scholar Ewa Kurek for bringing this work to public attention.]



THE JEWISH GHETTO POLICE

Katzenelson deals harshly with Jews who collaborated with the Nazis. He does not adhere to the modern notion that, owing to the fact that all Jews were victims of the Nazis, conventional strictures of right and wrong had ceased to function, and so no Jew was morally responsible for his conduct.
Here is a selection of his poetry:

(Quote) I watched from the window and saw the brutes—O God! I observed the beaters and the beaten—I wrung my hands in shame. O what disgrace and shame. Jews were being used, ah, to destroy my Jews! (unquote). (p. 23).

(Quote) Wagons laden with Jews, wringing their hands, pulling their hair—Some are silent—their scream is loudest! They watch, they look…Is it a nightmare? Is it real? Around the wagons, alas, woe is me! Jews in police uniforms, in boots and hats! (unquote). (p. 24).

THE WARSAW GHETTO UPRISING: LIQUIDATING JEWISH COLLABORATIONS

(Quote) So few Jews! A handful, among them undesirables—the accursed Alfred Nossig. And Jewish policemen, Jews who sold themselves to the Germans…Yet there is some comfort. Jews shoot them like dogs…Shoot! Better kill ten bad Jews than one bad gentile. (unquote). (p. 79).

EARLY GERMAN-SPONSORED JEWISH SELF-GOVERNMENT

Translator Noah H. Rosenbloom includes a chapter titled “The Threnodist and the Threnody of the Holocaust”. He offers the following insight on the forced segregation of Jews:

(Quote) Whereas the medieval ghetto intended to separate Jews from the non-Jews along religious lines, the new ghetto was determined by racial considerations. Paradoxically, ghettoization, notwithstanding the turmoil, misery and hardship if caused to thousands, evoked a glimmer of hope and even a sense of security. Some Jews initially believed that the term WOHNGEBIET DER JUDEN, as the ghetto was euphemistically referred to by the Germans, truly reflected the German intentions, to establish a racially segregated “District of Jewish Residence”. While the prevailing conditions there were far from enviable, they hoped that this dismally imposed socio-cultural structure would permit them a limited measure of religious, social, and cultural autonomy, a questionable thin silver lining on an otherwise dark, foreboding, stormy and thunderous cloud…The Germans, understandably, made no effort to dispel this optimistic Jewish notion, born in part of wishful thinking and in part subtly fostered by the Germans. (unquote). (p. 104).

The foregoing has unmentioned implications. Jewish Germanophilia had been long-standing, and, in the past, Jews had usually sided with Germany against Poland. As amazing as it may seem in the light of what later happened, Poles thought that a Jewish-German rapprochement following Poland’s 1939 defeat, and that at Poland’s expense, was imminent. Rosenbloom’s quoted statements make it clear to the reader that such Polish attitudes were reasonable at the time. Clearly, it was not so amazing that Jews could effectively function as a separate nation, with German blessings, under the German occupation of Poland. For this reason, Poles were disinclined to closely identify with the Jewish experience under the Nazis.
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