A Polish Film Provides a New Perspective on the Warsaw Ghetto

Reviewing a new Polish documentary about the Warsaw Ghetto, titled Warsaw: A City Divided, Rokhl Kafrissen reflects on the lessons of a film she terms “remarkable”:

The ghetto was officially justified by the Nazis as a “public-health” measure, serving, they said, to protect the population from “disease-carrying Jews.” The exact placement of the walls was subject to haggling with city administrators who worried about things like traffic problems. It’s odd to think about traffic patterns in relation to the murder of Jews, but it reminds us that genocide was built on thousands of acts of seemingly mundane bureaucracy.

The Warsaw Ghetto was the first and largest ghetto established by the Nazis. After the Germans finally crushed the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising [in 1943], the ghetto was methodically razed, its building-by-building destruction meticulously documented by Nazi photographers and architects. Before the war, Warsaw had been the second-largest Jewish community in the world. At the end of the war, only a handful of its Jews were left alive. Today, only a few scattered pieces of the ghetto walls that imprisoned them still stand, including fragments between properties as well as the sections of the wall that were part of buildings.

Unlike Auschwitz or Dachau, the Warsaw Ghetto cannot be visited in any meaningful way. And yet, the ghetto looms large in Holocaust memory. The uprising there in 1943 is still the most famous act of Jewish resistance.

In addition to the newly discovered footage, [the film’s] writer and director, Eric Bednarski, uses a mix of archival documents, architectural plans, and, most movingly, eyewitness testimony. Irena Agata Boldok is a Jewish Warsaw resident who spent two years within the ghetto before escaping to the Aryan side. Bednarski films her in front of one of the most famous wall fragments, at Sienna Street, where a plaque commemorates the horrific events that took place inside the ghetto walls. “This was a street I was scared of, and I still am to this day. I’ve never walked this street without feeling afraid.” Boldok describes how after the war she returned, over and over, to this fragment, hoping to find the hole through which she and her mother had escaped. It’s a quietly devastating moment.

Read more at Jewish Review of Books

More about: Film, Holocaust, Warsaw Ghetto

Hamas’s Hostage Diplomacy

Ron Ben-Yishai explains Hamas’s current calculations:

Strategically speaking, Hamas is hoping to add more and more days to the pause currently in effect, setting a new reality in stone, one which will convince the United States to get Israel to end the war. At the same time, they still have most of the hostages hidden in every underground crevice they could find, and hope to exchange those with as many Hamas and Islamic Jihad prisoners currently in Israeli prisons, planning on “revitalizing” their terrorist inclinations to even the odds against the seemingly unstoppable Israeli war machine.

Chances are that if pressured to do so by Qatar and Egypt, they will release men over 60 with the same “three-for-one” deal they’ve had in place so far, but when Israeli soldiers are all they have left to exchange, they are unlikely to extend the arrangement, instead insisting that for every IDF soldier released, thousands of their people would be set free.

In one of his last speeches prior to October 7, the Gaza-based Hamas chief Yahya Sinwar said, “remember the number one, one, one, one.” While he did not elaborate, it is believed he meant he wants 1,111 Hamas terrorists held in Israel released for every Israeli soldier, and those words came out of his mouth before he could even believe he would be able to abduct Israelis in the hundreds. This added leverage is likely to get him to aim for the release for all prisoners from Israeli facilities, not just some or even most.

Read more at Ynet

More about: Gaza War 2023, Hamas, Israeli Security