How Much Did the Polish Resistance Help Jews During the Holocaust?

During World War II, Poland had a highly organized resistance movement, complete with its own fighting force known as the Home Army. Joshua D. Zimmerman discusses the fraught relationship between the Polish underground and the Jews:

Stefan Rowecki, [the commander of the Home Army], authorized the transfer of arms, ammunition, and explosive-device materials to the [Warsaw] ghetto beginning in late January 1943 [in preparation for the uprising there]. The reason for this authorization was a combination of pressure from London and Rowecki’s new appreciation for the demonstrated ability of Jews to fight effectively. Rowecki thus came to the conclusion that Jewish resistance groups inside ghettos deserved, and as citizens of Poland were entitled to, assistance. He also approved or ordered seven documented actions on behalf of the ghetto fighters. During the Warsaw ghetto uprising, Rowecki’s men suffered between fifteen and twenty casualties, [including] two dead, as a result. . . .

Rowecki [also] issued an order to district and sub-district commanders to provide military assistance to Jews inside [other] ghettos wishing to mount self-defense. Almost none, however, obeyed this order and the vast majority of Jews outside Warsaw received no assistance whatsoever. . . .

The most important evidence on this issue comes from the testimony of Yitzḥak Zuckerman. When the ghetto rising began, Zuckerman was residing on the Aryan side of Warsaw while serving as the Jewish Combat Organization’s liaison to the Home Army. He requested a meeting with the Home Army commander to coordinate joint actions. Five days later, the head of the Warsaw district of the Home Army informed Zuckerman that no such meeting would take place. . . .

The ambivalent attitude of the Polish underground to the rising is also evidenced by the important finding of [the historian] Paweł Szapiro, who found that in the extensive coverage of the Warsaw ghetto uprising in the clandestine press of the [resistance], not a single mention was ever made of Home Army aid to the ghetto fighters. Szapiro concluded that the underground authorities had to have imposed a ban on this topic probably out of fear of [negative] public reaction.

Read more at Visegrad Insight

More about: History & Ideas, Holocaust, Polish Jewry, Warsaw Ghetto, World War II

Hamas Wants a Renewed Ceasefire, but Doesn’t Understand Israel’s Changed Attitude

Yohanan Tzoreff, writing yesterday, believes that Hamas still wishes to return to the truce that it ended Friday morning with renewed rocket attacks on Israel, but hopes it can do so on better terms—raising the price, so to speak, of each hostage released. Examining recent statements from the terrorist group’s leaders, he tries to make sense of what it is thinking:

These [Hamas] senior officials do not reflect any awareness of the changed attitude in Israel toward Hamas following the October 7 massacre carried out by the organization in the western Negev communities. They continue to estimate that as before, Israel will be willing to pay high prices for its people and that time is working in their favor. In their opinion, Israel’s interest in the release of its people, the pressure of the hostages’ families, and the public’s broad support for these families will ultimately be decisive in favor of a deal that will meet the new conditions set by Hamas.

In other words, the culture of summud (steadfastness), still guides Hamas. Its [rhetoric] does not show at all that it has internalized or recognized the change in the attitude of the Israeli public toward it—which makes it clear that Israel still has a lot of work to do.

Read more at Institute for National Security Studies

More about: Gaza War 2023, Hamas, Israeli Security