A Hero’s Recollection of the Bialystok Ghetto Uprising

Today is the 75th anniversary of the Bialystok Ghetto uprising. Organized by members of the city’s various socialist and Zionist youth movements, and coordinated with a Jewish underground that stretched to other ghettos as well as to partisan groups hiding in the forests, the uprising was intended to create chaos so that at least some of the ghetto’s residents could escape slaughter. Thus the plan was to wait until the next Aktion, during which the ghetto’s Jews would be called to assemble for transportation to Majdanek or Treblinka, and then to attack the SS men who came to supervise upon their entrance into the ghetto. Haika Grossman, who helped plan the uprising, and later in life served in Israel’s Knesset, wrote a memoir of her wartime experience. An excerpt:

The ghetto had been tranquil lately. Life had been normal. Not only that, but new orders had recently arrived for the factories from Königsberg and far-off Berlin. How happy the ghetto had been lately over the many Soviet victories, and Mussolini’s downfall. And now, suddenly—an Aktion.

Our plan to meet the Germans before they managed to spread throughout the ghetto, to attack them immediately on their entrance into the ghetto, was no longer possible. They came into the ghetto suddenly, at night. In a few minutes the [underground’s] staff, the cells [of fighters], and their commanders were all alerted. In a hurried meeting in the street we decided, first, to send the cells to their regular positions according to the original plan.

[But the] general plan had to be changed. The main points of attack, which had been set near the gates in order not to allow the Germans to enter the ghetto, had now lost much of their value. All the plans based on attacks from the houses near the gates, by grenade and a rain of fire, had to be altered. The initiative had been taken from us suddenly. Still, we decided to hold onto and entrench the existing positions, . . . and from there to attack the Germans as soon as they came close. Sentries were set and lines of contact established with the sector commanders. We sent people out to knock on doors and shutters to arouse the Jews:

“Germans in the ghetto! If they call on you to appear, don’t go.”

Read more at Tablet

More about: History & Ideas, Holocaust, Resistance


As Hamas’s Power Collapses, Old Feuds Are Resurfacing

In May, Mahmoud Nashabat, a high-ranking military figure in the Fatah party (which controls the West Bank-based Palestinian Authority), was gunned down in central Gaza. Nashabat was an officer in the Gaza wing of the Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigade, a terrorist outfit that served as Fatah’s vanguard during the second intifada, and now sometimes collaborates with Hamas. But his killers were Hamas members, and he was one of at least 35 Palestinians murdered in Gaza in the past two months as various terrorist and criminal groups go about settling old scores, some of which date back to the 1980s. Einav Halabi writes:

Security sources familiar with the situation told the London-based newspaper Asharq Al-Awsat that Gaza is now also beleaguered by the resurgence of old conflicts. “Many people have been killed in incidents related to the first intifada in 1987, while others have died in family disputes,” they said.

The “first-intifada portfolio” in Gaza is considered complex and convoluted, as it is filled with hatred among residents who accuse others of killing relatives for various reasons, including collaboration with Israel. . . . According to reports from Gaza, there are vigorous efforts on the ground to contain these developments, but the chances of success remain unclear. Hamas, for its part, is trying to project governance and control, recently releasing several videos showcasing how its operatives brutally beat residents accused of looting.

These incidents, gruesome as they are, suggest that Hamas’s control over the territory is slipping, and it no longer holds a monopoly on violence or commands the fear necessary to keep the population in line. The murders and beatings also dimension the grim reality that would ensue if the war ends precipitously: a re-empowered Hamas setting about getting vengeance on its enemies and reimposing its reign of terror.

Read more at Ynet

More about: Fatah, Gaza War 2023, Hamas