May 11, 1943
To His Excellency
The President of the Republic of Poland
General Wladyslaw Sikorski
Mr. Prime Minister,
I am taking the liberty of addressing to you,
Sirs, these my last words, and through you to the Polish Government and the
people of Poland, and to the governments and people of the Allies, and to
the conscience of the whole world:
The latest news that has reached us from Poland
makes it clear beyond any doubt that the Germans are now murdering the last
remnants of the Jews in Poland with unbridled cruelty. Behind the walls of
the ghetto the last act of this tragedy is now being played out.
The responsibility for the crime of the murder of
the whole Jewish nationality in Poland rests first of all on those who are
carrying it out, but indirectly it falls also upon the whole of humanity,
on the peoples of the Allied nations and on their governments, who up to
this day have not taken any real steps to halt this crime. By looking on
passively upon this murder of defenseless millions – tortured children,
women and men – they have become partners to the responsibility.
I am obliged to state that although the Polish
Government contributed largely to the arousing of public opinion in the
world, it still did not do enough. It did not do anything that was not
routine, that might have been appropriate to the dimensions of the tragedy
taking place in Poland.
Of close to 3.5 million Polish Jews and about
700,000 Jews who have been deported to Poland from other countries, there
were, according to the official figures of the Bund transmitted by the
Representative of the Government,** only 300,000 still alive in April of
this year. And the murder continues without end.
I cannot continue to live and to be silent while
the remnants of Polish Jewry, whose representative I am, are being
murdered. My comrades in the Warsaw ghetto fell with arms in their hands in
the last heroic battle. I was not permitted to fall like them, together
with them, but I belong with them, to their mass grave.
By my death, I wish to give expression to my most
profound protest against the inaction in which the world watches and
permits the destruction of the Jewish people.
I know that there is no great value to the life
of a man, especially today. But since I did not succeed in achieving it in
my lifetime, perhaps I shall be able by my death to contribute to the
arousing from lethargy of those who could and must act in order that even
now, perhaps at the last moment, the handful of Polish Jews who are still
alive can be saved from certain destruction.
My life belongs to the Jewish people of Poland,
and therefore I hand it over to them now. I yearn that the remnant that has
remained of the millions of Polish Jews may live to see liberation together
with the Polish masses, and that it shall be permitted to breathe freely in
Poland and in a world of freedom and socialistic justice, in compensation
for the inhuman suffering and torture inflicted on them. And I believe that
such a Poland will arise and such a world will come about. I am certain
that the President and the Prime Minister will send out these words of mine
to all those to whom they are addressed, and that the Polish Government
will embark immediately on diplomatic action and explanation of the
situation, in order to save the living remnant of the Polish Jews from
I take leave of you with greetings, from
everybody, and from everything that was dear to me and that I loved.
Yad Vashem Archives, O-55.
* Szmul Zygielbojm committed suicide early on the
morning of May 12, 1943.
** Authorized representative with full powers in the
Polish Underground on behalf of the Polish Government-in-Exile in London.