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The Warsaw Ghetto: Educational Problems in the Underground Youth Movement

(June 1942)

"...The [Youth] Movement now has before it far more tasks to fulfill than before the war. In the group named "Mitorerim" it has now become necessary to set up a self-help organization for members who are in need. This self-help can take two forms, according to the capacity of the "Nest" (club) and the objective conditions: it can either consist of an educational element alone, or it can develop into a successful combination of the educational element and economic "Nest" that will really be able to supply the material needs of the members. Both in the first case and in the second it will fulfill the high aim of a home working constructively for the future of the spirit of Jewish youth. There is no social education based on a single element: the educator must here find the exact synthesis that he requires.

But the task of "Mitorerim" does not end with the fulfillment of these demands. Apart from educational aims which must be fulfilled from the point of view of the young people’s own needs, there is the problem of national existence. These times are marked by the total loss of the will to fight among the Jews. The invader’s terror methods have entirely broken the will to opposition – to say nothing any longer of any opposition in the physical sense – and it is the adolescent youth that must become the stronghold and tower of the Jewish spirit of freedom. The need of the hour is to spread among the Jewish masses faith in our aims and real existence. Our youth which gather in the groups of "Mitorerim" and "Magshimim" must therefore set up cells of spiritual opposition, which will awaken in the Jewish masses faith in a better future and the desire to survive. To fight against the spreading pessimism and the mood of depression – here, this is one of the most important tasks of the older youth, which they must carry out among the general Jewish population. And they themselves, when they have guarded in their hearts their faith in the future existence of the Jewish people as a whole, will have to be ready also for the practical effort that will be demanded of them by the reality of Eretz Israel after the war....

It thus becomes completely clear that the aims and demands of the educational youth movement, and the work program planned in the days before the war, have lost nothing of their value.

If in the years before the war education within the Movement was directed towards the pioneering effort in Eretz Israel, then at this time we must emphasize that in the education of the youth we must combine the demand for pioneering effort in Eretz Israel with the need to be active here, in order that we may stand fast, and exist and remain alive. In this way the framework of education has been greatly extended.

We cannot, therefore, omit anything at all from the educational program of former years, but must add to it the campaign to accept life at this time. For we shall not succeed in shaping the future of our life in Eretz [Israel] if we do not succeed in preserving the position of the youth in this period. It is equally necessary to have concern for material lives and for the creation of suitable conditions for their continuous spiritual development...."

Sources: Yad Vashem

Yad Vashem Archives, JM/210.
* From the underground newspaper of Gordonia youth, Slowo Mlodych ("Youth Speaks"), No. 25 (II), June 1942.