First Edition of A Definitive Early Text on Jewish Resistance in Poland, by the Commander of the Jewish Combat Organization.
Nice example of the 1954 first edition, in Hebrew, of ספר מלחמות הגיטאת, The Book of the Ghetto Wars: Between the Walls and in the Forests. The book was written by Yitzhak "Antek" Zuckerman, one of the most important figures of the Jewish Resistance in Poland during the war, and it details not only the horror of the Ghetto, but the heroic acts of Jewish fighters throughout the war and the underground resistance that culminated, but did not end, in the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising. The book was co-authored by Moshe Basok, a Hebrew scholar, poet, and translator.
Zuckerman's commitment to fighting in the streets and forests against the worst Nazi atrocities during the War was continued through his assiduous efforts to publicize the Holocaust after the War. Havi Dreifuss, of the USHMM and Hebrew University in Jerusalem, states that:
"Antek Zuckerman commanded a central role in shaping the account of the Warsaw Ghetto Revolt in the public discourse."
The Book of the Ghetto Wars is considered the most important of Zuckerman's published pieces about the Jewish Resistance. It is not for no reason that Zuckerman was chosen later, in 1961, to testify at Adolf Eichmann's trial. Zuckerman's life and resistance efforts are discussed further below.
Upon its publication, Zuckerman's book helped define the Jewish self-narrative of the Holocaust, especially in Israel.
This monumental tome is supplemented by two folding maps, as well as numerous plates showing the major figures of the resistance, partisans in the forest, and the Warsaw Ghetto. The text is based on Zuckerman's experiences as well as primary sources, and paints a complete and scholarly important picture of the resistance.
Two folding maps are included in the text and prove integral to the story provided:
המחתרת היהורית בפוליו גיטאות ומחנות [The Underground Routes in Poland Between Jewish Ghettoes and Camps]
This first map opens the book and immediately places the reader in occupation-era Poland, showing how the distinct ghettoes and camps were connected to each other through a complex network of links. These links were formed through partisan groups, allied gentiles, Marxist rebels, and more. The map shows pre- and post-war political borders, as well as the resistance connection between Jewish population centers, in both white and red lines.
The white lines show the connections before 1942, while the red lines show these connections between 1942 and 1944. 1942 was the critical turning point in the story of Jewish resistance, as this was the year of the Wannsee Conference, in which the details of the Final Solution were instituted. The mass deportations that ensued both weakened Jewish resistance by eliminating large sections of the population, but also showed surviving Jews that whether they fought or didn't, they would still be killed. On the map, this transition is evident by the removal of many of the nodes of the underground: these would have been the cities and villages that were fully obliterated. Some nodes are added: these are primarily in the camps referenced in the title (which are shown with a red triangle).
מרד גיטו ורשה [The Warsaw Ghetto Uprising]
This map shows the most infamous saga of the Jewish resistance movement in Poland, the Warsaw ghetto uprising. The map shows the minuscule space with its various synagogues and three Christian churches in which hundreds of thousands of people were interned. A number of buildings are named that are referenced in the text, and points of importance to the uprising are indicated.
Yitzhak "Antek" Zuckerman
Born in Vilnius, Zuckerman's Zionist and Marxist tendencies spurred him to start revolting against the Soviet occupation following the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact and partition of Poland. After the German invasion, Zuckerman moved to Warsaw and immersed himself in the political life and resistance movements.
Despite his young age, his early advocation of opposition to the German invasion (rather than the collaboration favored by older generations) put him as one of the early leaders of the Jewish resistance. Actions against the Nazi state started in earnest in 1941 when the Jewish Combat Organization (ZOB) was founded and he was named second-in-command. From then, one of the major early obstacles was convincing the other residents of the ghetto to take up arms and actively combat the Germans.
Late summer, 1942, was a turning point for the Warsaw ghetto, when the Grosse Aktion deported some roughly 340,000 Jews from the city. However, armed resistance to the Aktion was limited due to the prevalent belief that the Nazis were only "relocating" the infirm, poor, and criminal elements of society, and that resistance was doomed to fail without Polish Aryan partisan help.
Zuckerman's previous political roles established him as the perfect candidate to mediate between the Armia Krajowa (Polish Home Army) and the ZOB. Following the deportations, he pledged the ZOB to the Armia, and the ZOB slowly gathered arms and other supplies within the ghetto. During this period, Zuckerman was in and out of the ghetto so as to liaise between the two groups.
Deportations started again in early, 1943, but this time there was active rebellion. ZOB partisans infiltrated the columns of deportees and fired on the overseeing German troops, limiting deportations to a few thousand. The fighters eventually managed to take the ghetto, digging trenches and fighting from bunkers. This heroic act delayed deportations for several months, but, by April, the ghetto was liquidated.
Zuckerman survived as he was stationed on the Aryan side of Warsaw and in charge of smuggling operations during the uprising. After the chief in command of the ZOB was killed, Zuckerman became the leader of the organization. He would take part in the general Warsaw Uprising of 1944, leading some Jewish survivors against German troops.
Following the war, Zuckerman emigrated to Israel, where he founded a Kibbutz. He would testify at Adolf Eichmann's trial, and publish several volumes regarding the ghetto uprising. Some later scholars have called into question the reliability of his accounts, but this criticism has been defended against by pointing out that Zuckerman was not a scholar himself, but intimately involved in the fighting (despite not being in the ghetto at the time of the uprising), and thus sometimes biased.