On any given day you can look back into the scope of human history and find the events that marked that particular date and what made them significant enough to impact the fabric of our time.
January 18th, 1943- a small group of Jewish men
decided to react against hatred.
The Warsaw ghetto was the largest in all of Poland. It housed well over 400,000 Jews in conditions that were deplorable. Starvation, typhoid fever and random killing sprees by the Nazi’s were just a few of the hazards to residing in Warsaw’s ghetto. Throughout the year of 1942 thousands upon thousands were deported to Treblinka, a large extermination camp. Within the year… over 300,000 were exported by the masses to their deaths.
But there was a remnant… shipping of Jews from Warsaw had ceased for a time. From the fall of 1942 to the winter of 1943 there was a significant decrease in the deportation of Jews to Treblinka. But the ones that remained lived on a shallow breath, knowing that at any time it could resume.
January 18th, the Nazi troops began organizing… more Jews were to be sent to the death camp. But… within the shallow breathing remnant, there came a realization that led to action. No longer would they be treated as animals, no longer would they be treated as unpersons, there was a realization that they still possessed humanity, despite how they had been dispersed, disregarded and degraded.
On a preplanned signal, a small group of men turned on those who had kept them prisoner. There, in the ghetto they had come to know as home- they started an uprising.
Although in the short scope of things, the uprising at Warsaw did not turn out in the Jews favor- it did start a liberation. There has been movie after movie made about the Warsaw ghetto and the uprising that happened there. The utter darkness that the evil of men had cast throughout Nazi-occupied Poland was not enough to destroy a people who suffered as the target of that evil. The liberation and understanding of their humanity gave rise to a renewed hope that there was light at the end of it all. That one day there wouldn’t be any more destruction and death.
And here we are… almost 70 years later, most of the survivors are gone now…only a few remain. The Nazi’s who tortured, burned, destroyed and killed this people group have been brought under the strong arm of justice. Why not take just a moment to remember those who died simply because of who they were born as. But…I am not Jewish and logistically most of you are not either. So, why should it matter to us?
The same reasons rape, murder, abuse, hatred, racism and all other forms of violence should matter to us. When we see things like this that mar our history, it doesn’t matter if we are or would have been included in that particular population. It matters because it isn’t a white or black issue, it’s not a male or female issue, it’s not an intelligence and handicap issue…
It’s a human issue.
We are shoes from grandchildren and grandfathers
from Prague, Paris and Amsterdam,
and because we are only made of fabric and leather
and not of blood and flesh, each one of us avoided the hellfire.”
Movies about the Warsaw Ghetto and Treblinka:
Jakob the Liar