The Last Letter from the Bund Representative
with the Polish National Council in Exile
(May 11, 1943)
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
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 destruction.
I take leave of you with greetings, from everybody,
and from everything that was dear to me and that I loved.
Source: Yad Vashem Archives, O-55.
* Zygelbojm 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.
Source: Yad Vashem