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Jewish Resistance: Jewish Fighting Organization Calls for Resistance in the Warsaw Ghetto

(January 1943)

To the Jewish Masses in the Ghetto

On January 22, 1943, six months will have passed since the deportations from Warsaw began. We all remember well the days of terror during which 300,000 of our brothers and sisters were cruelly put to death in the death camp of Treblinka. Six months have passed of life in constant fear of death, not knowing what the next day may bring. We have received information from all sides about the destruction of the Jews in the Government-General, in Germany, in the occupied territories. When we listen to this bitter news we wait for our own hour to come, every day and every moment. Today we must understand that the Nazi murderers have let us live only because they want to make use of our capacity to work to our last drop of blood and sweat, to our last breath. We are slaves. And when the slaves are no longer profitable, they are killed. Every one among us must understand that, and every one among us must remember it always.

During the past few weeks certain people have spread stories about letters that were said to have been received from Jews deported from Warsaw, who were said to be in labor camps near Minsk or Bobruisk. Jews in your masses, do not believe these tales. They are spread by Jews who are working for the Gestapo. The blood-stained murderers have a particular aim in doing this: to reassure the Jewish population in order that later the next deportation can be carried out without difficulty, with a minimum of force and without losses to the Germans. They want the Jews not to prepare hiding-places and not to resist. Jews, do not repeat these lying tales.

Do not help the [Nazi] agents. The Gestapo’s dastardly people will get their just desserts. Jews in your masses, the hour is near. You must be prepared to resist, not to give yourselves up like sheep to slaughter. Not even one Jew must go to the train. People who cannot resist actively must offer passive resistance, that is, by hiding. We have now received information from Lvov that the Jewish Police there itself carried out the deportation of 3,000 Jews. Such things will not happen again in Warsaw. The killing of Lejkin proves it.

Now our slogan must be:

Let everyone be ready to die like a man!

We are rising up for war!

We are of those who have set themselves the aim of awakening the people. Our wish is to take this watchword to our people:

Awake and fight!

Do not despair of the road to escape!

Know that escape is not to be found by walking to your death passively, like sheep to the slaughter. It is to be found in something much greater: in war!

Whoever defends himself has a chance of being saved! Whoever gives up self-defense from the outset – he has lost already!

Nothing awaits him except only a hideous death in the suffocation-machine of Treblinka.

Let the people awaken to war!

Find the courage in your soul for desperate action!

Put an end to our terrible acceptance of such phrases as:

We are all under sentence of death!

It is a lie!!!

We were destined to live! We too have a right to life!

One only needs to know how to fight for it!

It is no great art to live when life is given to you willingly!

But there is an art to life just when they are trying to rob you of this life.

Let the people awaken and fight for its life!

Let every mother be a lioness defending her young!

Let no father stand by and see the blood of his children in silence!

Let not the first act of our destruction be repeated!

An end to despair and lack of faith!

An end to the spirit of slavery amongst us!

Let the tyrant pay with the blood of his body for every soul in Israel!

Let every house become a fortress for us!

Let the people awaken to war!

In war lies your salvation!

Whoever defends himself has a hope of escape!

We are rising in the name of the war for the lives of the helpless masses whom we seek to save, whom we must arouse to action! It is not for ourselves alone that we wish to fight. We will be entitled to save ourselves only when we have completed our duty! As long as the life of a Jew is still in danger, even one, single, life, we have to be ready to fight!!!!

Our watchword is:

Not even one more Jew is to find his end in Treblinka!

Out with the traitors to the people!

War for life or death on the conqueror to our last breath!

Be prepared to act!

Be ready!

Sources: Archiwum Zydowskiego Instytutu Historycznego w Polsce (Archives of the Jewish Historical Institute in Poland), ARII/333.
* The appeal is attributed to the Jewish Military Organization (Zydowski Zwiazek Wojskowy – ZZW)