This year marks the 75th anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, one of the most well known acts of resistance during the Holocaust, in which SKIF and the Bund members played active roles. While we, the Jewish Labour Bund and SKIF in Melbourne, observed this occasion with our annual commemoration at the Phoenix Theatre, official and unofficial ceremonies were being held in Warsaw and in other cities around the world.
An unofficial ceremony was held at the Bund monument at the Warsaw Cemetery which included delegations from the Workman's Circle in the US and Hashomer Hatzair. We extend our gratitude to Irene Kronhill Pletka who represented the Bund in Melbourne through reading a statement from us and laying a wreath beside the graves of Bundist uprising heroes.
Below is the statement that was read at the ceremony.
Honourable guests, survivors and khaveyrim,
On April 19, we, the Jewish Labour Bund in Melbourne, Australia, will be standing together with you, halfway across the globe, to commemorate the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, as we do each year. Distance does not diminish this date in our hearts and minds, nor does the time that has passed. The emotions are as raw as they were 75 years ago and we continue to commit to the resounding promise made by all humane people around the globe: never again.
The importance of Jewish honour and dignity was the uniting belief for the heroes of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising. The commitment of many Jewish groups, including, of course the Jewish Labour Bund, to the ZOB, was a fundamental factor in its strength. These were not trained soldiers fighting - these were regular civilians, some teenagers, with little to no military experience, but with one very important weapon: resolve.
As time passes, it becomes more important to share the facts of the horrors and atrocities of the Holocaust, as well as the brave and heroic actions of those in the Warsaw Ghetto. Holocaust revisionism and denial has become increasingly accepted and this presents an extremely alarming and distressing concern. Quality and factual education is vital to ensuring that future generations learn an accurate narrative of the Holocaust, and this standpoint must be driven by national leadership, in order to inspire others to act on a local scale.
הײַנט איז אַ מין יאָרצײַט. דער 19טעראַפּריל איז אַ געלעגנהײַט אָפּצוגעבןכבֿוד די ייִדן װעלכע זײַנעןאומגעקומען און האָבן דװקא נישטקײן אייגענעם קבֿר. צי מע דערמאָנטזײ אין װאַרשע, צי אין מעלבורן, ציאין ניו־יאָרק, צי אין פּאַריז, איזאונדזער ירושה צו געדענקען דיװעלכע האָבן נישט קיין משפּחה זײ צודערמאָנען. מיר זײַנען נישט נאָרזײערע חבֿרים ־ מיר זײַנען אױך זייערמשפּחה.
Tonight, we wish to share some of the names of khaveyrim who contributed to the Uprising, many sacrificing their lives in the process.
Tonight we remember Dowidl Hochberg, who was 12 when he joined the ZOB and sacrificed his own life to help his resistance group escape the Nazis in the sewers.
Tonight we remember Tobcie Dawidowicz, who injured her ankle whilst trying to leave the Ghetto towards the end of the Uprising. She told the others to go ahead without her as she would slow them down.
Tonight we share the story of Marek Edelman, an icon, but once a young man in a red jumper in the middle of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising. When a fighter fell beside him during one particular battle, he picked up their gun and began shooting with a gun in each hand.
Tonight we share the names of Roza Aykhner, Guta Blones, Jurek Blones, Lushek Blones, Leyb Gruzalts, Zalman Frydrich, Anna Broyde-Heller, Michal Klepfisz, Vladka Meed, Niko Perenson, Manya Rosen-Zygelbojm, and many more of our khaveyrim.
Say their names, read their stories, share what you learn. This is keeping the legacy alive. In this way, just as in the Partisans Hymn we sing each year, the story of the Warsaw Ghetto will become a parol fun dor tsu dor - a password linking the generations with a shared past and a common destiny. The Bundistn of the Warsaw Ghetto dreamed of a shenerer un beserer velt. This is our yerushe and we will forever be indebted to the ultimate sacrifices that they made in order to work towards this.
Koved zeyer ondenk.