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Yitzhak Zuckerman was the last commander of the Jewish Fighting Organization, which led the uprising in the Warsaw ghetto. His underground code name was ‘Antak’.

Originally from Vilna, he made it to Palestine in 1947 after spending some years in post-war Europe smuggling other Jews there. As he was dying from cancer, he was persuaded to dictate his memoirs which were published originally in Hebrew as “Those Seven Years: 1939-1946”. The English language edition is titled “A Surplus of Memory: Chronicle of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising”. Zuckerman died in Israel in 1981.

He speaks with great bitterness, as you might imagine. But he takes pains to honor those he feels are owed it. Not least the Poles who tried to help, even if it was out of self interest, e.g., Catholics hiding Jewish children in the hope of converting them. Here is the gist:

Anyone who fosters total hatred for the Polish people is committing a sin! We must do the opposite. Against the background of anti-Semitism and general apathy, these people are glorious. There was great danger in helping us, mortal danger, not only for them but also for their families, sometimes for the entire courtyard they lived in. In 1945, I was restrained at an international press conference when all kinds of questions were asked. I said honestly and I repeat it today: to cause the death of one hundred Jews, all you needed was one Polish denouncer; to save one Jew, it sometimes took the help of ten decent Poles, the help of an entire Polish family; even if they did it for money. Some gave their apartment, and others made identity cards. Even passive help deserves appreciation. The baker who didn’t denounce, for instance. It was a problem for a Polish family of four who suddenly had to start buying double quantities of rolls or meat. And what a bother it was to go far away to buy in order to support the family hiding with them.

Yitzhak Zuckerman was the last commander of the Jewish Fighting Organization, which led the uprising in the Warsaw ghetto. His underground code name was ‘Antak’.

Originally from Vilna, he made it to Palestine in 1947 after spending some years in post-war Europe smuggling other Jews there. As he was dying from cancer, he was persuaded to dictate his memoirs which were published originally in Hebrew as “Those Seven Years: 1939-1946”. The English language edition is titled “A Surplus of Memory: Chronicle of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising”. Zuckerman died in Israel in 1981.

He speaks with great bitterness, as you might imagine. But he takes pains to honor those he feels are owed it. Not least the Poles who tried to help, even if it was out of self interest, e.g., Catholics hiding Jewish children in the hope of converting them. Here is the gist:

Anyone who fosters total hatred for the Polish people is committing a sin! We must do the opposite. Against the background of anti-Semitism and general apathy, these people are glorious. There was great danger in helping us, mortal danger, not only for them but also for their families, sometimes for the entire courtyard they lived in. In 1945, I was restrained at an international press conference when all kinds of questions were asked. I said honestly and I repeat it today: to cause the death of one hundred Jews, all you needed was one Polish denouncer; to save one Jew, it sometimes took the help of ten decent Poles, the help of an entire Polish family; even if they did it for money. Some gave their apartment, and others made identity cards. Even passive help deserves appreciation. The baker who didn’t denounce, for instance. It was a problem for a Polish family of four who suddenly had to start buying double quantities of rolls or meat. And what a bother it was to go far away to buy in order to support the family hiding with them.

Sorry for the double post. I didn't see the first one and didn't realize it had been posted on the 'next' page.

Ok, now for Torah. This is the beginning of the story of the destruction of Sodom. Genesis 18:16. God has already heard the lamentations and has decided to wipe the place from the earth and everyone in it.

Now the LORD had said, "Shall I hide from Abraham what I am about to do, since Abraham is to become a great and populous nation and all the nations of the earth are to bless themselves by him? For I have singled him out, that he may instruct his children and his posterity to keep the way of the LORD by doing what is just and right, in order that the LORD may bring about for Abraham what He has promised him." Then the LORD said, "The outrage of Sodom and Gomorrah is so great, and their sin so grave! I will go down to see whether they have acted altogether to the outcry that has meached Me; if not I will take note."

The men went on from there to Sodom, while Abraham remained standing before the LORD. Abraham came forward and said "Will You sweep away the innocent along with the guilty? What if there should be fifty innocent within the city; will You then wipe out the place and not forgive it for the sake of the innocent fifty who are in it? Far be it from You to do such a thing, to bring death upon the innocent as well as the guilty, so that innocent and guilty fare alike. Far be it from You! Shall not the judge of all the earth deal justly?" And the LORD answered "If I find within the city of Sodom fifty innocent ones I will forgive the whole place for their sake." Abraham spoke up, saying, "Here I venture to speak to my LORD, I who am but dust and ashes: What if the fifty innocent should lack five? Will You destroy the whole city for want of the five?" And He answered, "I will not destroy if I find forty-five there." But he spoke to HIm again, and said, "What if forty should be found there?" And He answered, "I will not do it, for the sake of the forty." And he said, "Let not my Lord be angry if I go on: What if thirty should be found there?" And He answered, "I will not do it if I find thirty there." And he said, "I venture to speak to my Lord: What if twenty should be found there?" And He answered, "I will not destroy, for the sake of the twenty. And he said, "Let not my Lord be angry if I speak but this last time: What if ten should be found there?" And He answered, "I will not do it for the sake of the ten."

When the LORD had finished speaking to Abraham, He departed, and Abraham returned to his place

So what are the ‘take away’ lessons for me? Well, Torah tells me that yep, even GOD gets that pissed off sometimes. But He’s a bit cautious. He’s given Abraham the imprimatur of His authority, and if He doesn’t clue in Abraham, it might be a deal-breaker in the ‘nations of the earth’ department. Then again, He’s not sure how it will go down, either, so He hedges a bit and just tells Abraham He’s going to go check things out.

Abraham is on to Him. Fifty? Forty-five? All the way down to ten. (If anyone wants to take a shot at where the term ‘to Jew down’, originates, this might not be a bad place to start!). It is Abraham that makes the argument against collective guilt and punishment in the name of justice.

I see here that Man has been given moral reasoning, and can exercise it even in the face of a wrathful God.

And Zuckerman? If he can’t – no, I should say won’t – it is a choice, otherwise it would have no moral meaning – then how can I?

And your way, sevtov? What possible good can come of it? Family connections? Well, if you’re talking about the likes of Himmler’s daughter – what’s her name, Gudrin? – then just take her out and shoot her. How about Rommel’s son?

Quoting Rommel's son is a strange analogy, please explain the connection?

Quoting Rommel's son is a strange analogy, please explain the connection?

Oops, didn't mean to post twice.

These comments are getting weirder and more abstruse, but what the hell.
@Pamela. I can see the thrust of your response to historical events, which are just what they are -- huge historical events, to which our responses are frequently pretty inconsequential. The notion of learning from history is bogus, because people go through things the first time in every age; historians record things, we think we know some thing or another, but it's just as well when we are quiet about the Big Issues.
My only reaction is at best silence in the face of such historical facts, which are not reversible, and to learn more about them in their details; but my reaction is not to hit on the Big Issues. There is something Raul Hilberg said in reponse to forgiving and all that stuff that we, who were born afterward, frequently think we have to make decisions about. As for the victims and perpetrators communicating and in a sense learning to "forgive," I don't know who it was who asked Hilberg about the subject at a forum or educational program made by Bill Moyers in the '80s; the questioner might have been Maya Angelou. He was pretty brief in his reponse. "How does one forgive the killing of millions of people? On whose authority do I forgive? There is no Jew anywhere who feels that he could. There is only an admonition; and it's God's silence."
I'm not sure whether the last part of the sentence is correct. He might be saying, "There is only an admonition; and it's silence." Well, figure it out. All these questions are beyond us, it seems to me. One can learn details and garner more facts. Most people are too lazy to do this, though, and they would rather give Big Answers to answer these Big Issues.
I'm also not crazy about the reference to the origin of the anti-Semitic phrase, "to Jew down." It struck me as perverse to quote, because who cares about what the origin of it is? The origin lies in hatred and Jew-baiting, so what else is there to speculate about?

Have any of you ever actually been to Germany?? I spent a month in Germany and couldn't help noticing that our influence is everywhere.

1. Turn on the television and they are talking about us in their game shows, sitcoms, dramas (those that aren't dubbed American shows), news broadcasts etc... Whether it be positive or negative they are absolutely obsessed with us. Watching MTV Europe (one of two channels in English) I noticed the MTV top ten videos for the day were 1 German band, 1 British band and 8 American bands. This was the pattern the entire month I was there.

2. Walking down the streets of Munich I pass those little containers you buy newspapers out of.. They all have a front-page story relating in some way to the USA.

3. I keep noticing that advertizing slogans on store signs and TV advertisements are 80% in German and 20% in American English.

4. Ten years of our language is required in their schools. Listen to people talking on the street and they will occasionally say something in English to each other.

5. Our clothing, food, music, movies, TV shows, electronics products etc are still highly sought after. We may have fallen to a 29% approval rating, but it certainly hasn't stopped the German public from aggressively seeking ipods and Tommy Hilfiger jeans. Oh and McDonalds is always full at lunchtime and there are lots of them in Germany. I even saw a Wendy's with a drive-thru lined with cars [gasp].

"I hate the USA and hope it is destroyed, but just in case it is can you please tell me how to newest season of 24 ends?? It hasn't come out on DVD here yet."

So let's look at why we went from a 91% approval rating to a 29% approval rating overnight. If you put yourselves in the shoes of the Germans you will see why. They were destroyed as a country and a major world power, split into two parts and resigned themselves to a long period of rebuilding. Finally they rejoined into one country, the biggest economy in Europe and were ready to be a relevant world power once again. Then in 2003 a major figure in the US government essentially said, "no, you're still irrelevant and we don't need you or care about how you feel"

This is what "the old Europe" means..

How would you feel about that statement if you were German??

Now I don't defend the disgusting German media because they've taken all of this way too far. It isn't healthy for Germany, the EU or the US. It is healthy for Russia, China, Iran and Al Qaeda. The German media in the last 5 years have produced a generation of brainwashed youthful soldiers with ideas about the US so warped out that they couldn't possibly come back to reality. I have no doubt that our approval ratings will improve drastically once Bush is gone, but what is Germany going to do about the 18 - 25 year olds who are so entrenched in counter-productive anti-Americanism that they will most likely never snap out of it??

Just stop this nonsense Der Spiegel, Stern etc.. YOU ARE NOT HELPING GERMANY!!

I'm so glad to have found this blog! I remember seeing a photo essay on ARD.de called something like "Images of America". They showed every grotesque part of our society - poverty, gun-toting hicks, extreme Christian evangelicals, etc. I e-mailed of the person to whom this collection was credited. I asked her why she didn't visit any middle-class, middle-American communities where most of us live. I also asked if a photo essay of the scummiest sections of Hamburg, Frankfurt, Berlin, and deepest darkest Sachsen or Brandenburg (you know, the places where all the young men shave their heads and wear Lonsdale) would be a fair depiction of "Images of Germany". Since I speak German, I invited her to my town in Wisconsin to try to offer an alternative to the cliched. Funny, she didn't write back.

It seems for most German "journalists" stationed in America, if they're not in the tony parts of NYC or DC they're looking for where "Deliverance" was filmed. Revolting.

re: soxfan 2005
You know what? It doesn't even matter whether the German journalists you speak to agree with you about their off-kilter views and extreme biases. They know their audience. So despite their agreeing with you, which they always inevitably do or else they'll pretend they don't recognize the propaganda as such, they will ALWAYS write and print it. Well, at least one gets the brief satisfaction of talking back to them. Yet it's endlessly wearisome -- this mélange of the audience's wishes, the editors' demands and the journalists who cater to them! To get them to change would be to redo the country. Germans think they know America, resent it, are afraid of it, think they know better how to wield the power America does -- and want to do it, too. But they're more or less played out, thank God.

Hello, I enjoy looking into your blog. Some things to remember:
German ancestry is the most common ancestry in the U.S.A. at least that's been said in the past. It seems to me most people I know have some German forbears.

Most folks I know like Germany and German people; they're seen as industrious and educated. There are many aspects I've heard of German society that are admirable, especially the cars! :)

As a friend from Germany once told me, he'd worked all through Europe and Russia and encountered anti-German animosity due to historical grievances, and found that is the U.S. "...nobody gave a shit that I was German." This made me very proud of my country!

I would expect Germans to be patriotic and love Germany as I do my own country.

Thank you for questioning the same tired narrative about the U.S.

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