All students are required to respond to other student posts each week The goal here is to ENGAGE in respectful dialogue – be supportive of each other, even as you are critical of each other’s ideas.
1) In a single sentence IN YOUR OWN WORDS (IYOW), provide an OVERVIEW of this section.
This section focuses on the accounts of witnesses that lived through the Holocaust.
2) For each chapter (19-22), provide a THESIS sentence and THREE specific pieces of evidence to support your thesis – what is each writer’s MAIN argument, and how does each writer support said argument? (Use 2-3 sentences for EACH and feel free to number them.)
1. Emmanuel Ringelblum focuses on how the Ghettos were harsh places for Jews to live in and they had grown hostile to one another because of debates of assimilation.
On April 18th of 1942, an event occurred which was called “Bloody Friday.” It turned out that the Germans were not only concerned with the possessions of Jews and what belonged to them physically but also their intellectual work. Ringelblum notes this as something shocking, saying, “We turned out to be sadly mistaken,” (Gigliotti and Lang, 319).
As a result of Bloody Friday, “Jewish Council people… repress completely the social and political life of the Ghetto. First, they spread the rumor that Friday’s massacre was attributed to the illegal publications… Why were there similar massacres in Radom and other places where there were no illegal publications?” (Gigliotti and Lang, 319). The Jewish Council seemed at least afraid of intellectual work being done by other Jews and made their fellow Jews question if it was actually going to do anything to suppress their intellectual endeavors when other groups were massacred for not even doing it.
There were “Jewish gangster police” and Jewish agents of the Gestapo in these ghettos that would rat on and abuse other Jews. “Every chief, every Gestapo department, has its own Jewish agents,” (Gigliotti and Lang, 326).
2. Oskar Rosenfield: He notes many brutal aspects of living in the Ghetto and the corruption of one Jewish council leader called the Eldest.
Murder was something that occurred among fellow Jews in the Ghetto. As he notes, “The murdered thirteen-year-old girl Ella Sznal. The murderer, the twenty-five-year-old Chaim Israel Brysz,” (Gigliotti and Lang, 339).
The Eldest exercised corruption in the Ghetto. He “raised informers” on who had what possessions and said that it was the duty of Jews to give their possessions to the “police” in order to “exchange them for good.” He was causing blood to be spilled because he ratted on those who had possessions (Gigliotti and Lang, 340).
He notes the brutal living conditions of the Ghetto, with many having no shelter. “Every day a dozen, To be seen in the street, through open windows. Theta re completely wrapped in clothing because they are freezing cold,” (Gigliotti and Lang, 343).
3. Herman Kruk is again observing many of the struggles that occurred in the Ghetto.
In order that they might have food, they would try to get others to smuggle in food for them. Some were Christians, but they had the danger of being arrested. Kruk notes, “The Christians, on whom smuggled food had been found, had been detained on the spot,” (Gigliotti and Lang, 356).
Many restrictions were put on Jews. He notes, “Out of the ghetto, it is forbidden to carry money. Every sum that is found is taken away,” (Gigliotti and Lang, 367).
It is interesting in this work that he notes how some were sent to the camps because some families would use “Jewishness” as a weapon against other “in-laws”. He notes how “A sister of a daughter-in-law of the shoemaker denounced the old woman as a converted Jew. She was arrested and sentenced to death for not being in the ghetto,” (374).
4. Etty Hillesum is writing about her experience of being in Westerbork, which was a camp established for those on their way to eventually die in a concentration camp.
Those in camps were expected in some way to get supplies from outside. She requests her friend, “if you don’t think it too immodest: a pillow or some old cushion; the straw gets a little hard in the end. But you are not allowed to send parcels weighing more than two kilos from the provinces, and a pillow probably weighs more than that. So if you happen to be in Amsterdam and should call at Pa Han’s (please don’t abandon him, and do show him this letter), you might perhaps send it from some post office there. Otherwise, my only wish is that you are all well and in good spirits, and send me a few kind words from time to time,” (378)
She tried her best to prevent her parents from being sent off to a concentration, but it was only temporary. She got them to not go on transportation, but they would go nonetheless a week later (Gigliotti and Lang, 381).
She writes, “Ten thousand have passed through this place, the clothed and the naked, the old and the young, the sick and the healthy – and I am left to live and work and stay cheerful. It will be my parents’ turn to leave soon, if by some miracle not this week, then certainly one of the next. And I must learn to accept this as well. Mischa insists on going along with them, and it seems to me that he probably should; if he has to watch our parents leave this place, it will totally unhinge him. I shan’t go, I just can’t. It is easier to pray for someone from a distance than to see him suffer by your side. It is not fear of Poland that keeps me from going along with my parents, but fear of seeing them suffer. And that, too, is cowardice,” (384). Hillesum notes that the diversity of suffering she has witnessed passes through her camp and the large numbers. It is interesting that she would rather not go along with her parents, unlike Mischa.
3) Select ONE of the documents that you find MOST illuminating, and explain WHY in 4-5 sentences.
I think who I found the most enlightening was Etty Hillesum. She was very personal about her struggles and the problems she had with facing her parent’s eventual demise. She noted how she could not bear to go with them, thinking, quite rightly in my opinion, that seeing them suffer would be much worse than keeping from a distance. Mischa does not do the same, rather vocalizing that he wishes to join them.
ideas you find MOST troubling or problematic, and why, with 3 specific pieces of evidence.
Who I find the most troubling is Emmanuel Ringelblum. He notes that the Jews were being simply killed for engaging in intellectual activity, not only this but also the Jewish Council seemed to be naive enough to think that banning such activity would prevent the massacre that occurred on bloody Friday.
What are your thoughts on the Jewish Councils in the Ghettos?
Overview: Letters and journal entries from people who were Ghetto and camp inmates, who detail their surroundings and internal struggles.
Thesis: Emmanuel Ringelblum describes some instances where Jews have been executed, and why they did such things.
“The smuggling of goods past the Wall continues, resulting every day in the sacrifice of a large number of wounded and dead” (316). Jews try to sneak past German guards, and sneak in goods from the outside. Emmanuel Ringelblum follows by describing certain guards that could be bribed, and others that could not.
“Everybody imagined that the Germans were indifferent to what the Jews were thinking and doing in their Ghetto… That they were uninterested in intellectual matters. We turned out to be sadly mistaken. That bloody Friday, when the publishers and distributors of illegal publications were executed, proved that our political constellation is not a subject of indifference to Them” (319). Germans did not like the idea of Jews having any type of free speech, even if it is still in the confines of the Ghetto. Ringelblum describes that the Germans particularly don’t like it when the Jews have connections with non-Jewish parts of Warsaw.
“There have been cases of everyone living in an apartment being fearfully tortured because someone opened a shutter” (321). And these tortures are truly brutal. Ringelblum describes a torture where the Jew had to strip naked and roll down a pile of coke, causing them excruciating pain, and to bleed.
Thesis: Oskar Rosenfeld writes of the food struggles in the Ghetto, and how dangerous the streets of the Ghetto are.
“People are adopting children since they get rations for them, which they withhold from them“ (342). Oskar Rosenfeld writes that families were adopting children, and eating the child’s rations of food. The Ghetto is turning people into monsters, and making them do things they may normally not do.
“In the Ghetto there are four kinds of human beings:
- Those who have everything in excess, the best of the best.
- Those who have connections with the first and who benefit as well.
- Those who don’t want to bite the dust and are looking around for rations, and who, if there’s no other way, will organize them for themselves.
- The vast majority who die of hunger.” (339).
Rosenfeld included this list as to remind readers of all the types of people in the Ghetto. Since it is mainly spoken of the people in category 4, but there were still people who had connections and were able to thrive as much as they could.
“Nobody dares to go into the street. The seriously sick would like a doctor. The doctor doesn’t dare to come” (336). Rosenfeld explains that the streets are dangerous because some guards get bored and shoot people. He tells of someone getting shot at from afar, and brought closer to kill on April 18.
Thesis: Herman Kruk writes about his surroundings, and ponders the future of his old friends and family, and everyone in the Ghetto as well.
“…it doesn’t feel as if we shall ever get out of the bloody sea. We splash and splash. We drown and drown” (361). Herman Kruk writes this when discussing anniversaries of the Ghetto. A year ago, a lot of people were killed, and now a year later, people are still being killed.
“…where are my dozens, hundreds, thousands of comrades and friends, with whom I spent years of friendship?” (364). This sentence written by Kruk reminded me that people in the Ghettos often never see their family and friends again. Depending on how they were split up, many people are left wondering if their dear friend is alive. This also reminded me of Elie Wiesel from Night when he would contemplate where his mother and sisters were, and if they were still alive.
“Eyes shine with joy and grief at the same time” (353). Kruk explains that when there is hope in the Ghetto, it is usually perceived in both ways. Some people get their hopes up, others don’t bother for fear of being let down.
Thesis: In Etty Hillesum’s letters to his friends, he describes the despair of the people in the Ghetto, while also trying to write about anything positive they may see.
“There are many dying children. But there are many healthy ones, too” (376). Etty Hillesum writes this in one of their letters to their friends. In this sentence, Hillesum is trying to write something positive in their letter, and send a realistic letter to their friends on the outside.
“Ten thousand have passed through this place, the clothed and the naked, the old and the young, the sick and the healthy – and I am left to live and work and stay cheerful” (384). Again, choosing to write on a more positive note. They are in constant fear that their parents will be shipped off in the next transport. I think his parents are the reason he is trying to stay cheerful.
“This is something people refuse to admit to themselves: at a given point you can no longer do, but can only be and accept” (384). This is a very heavy quote from Hillesum. He explains that he is at the point of accepting his position in the Ghetto, but his family is not. He wishes that they exuded his strength in this way, as it would be easier for them to accept their future in the Ghetto.
“Relief doesn’t solve the problem; it only keeps people going a little longer. But they have to die in the end anyway. Relief only lengthens the period of suffering, but is no solution” (329) written by Emmanuel Rungelblum. I find this to be very troubling, as it shows the end of the line for everyone. Whether someone is saved from execution that day, the next day is still unsure for survival.
“It says that in August, 300,000 Jews were murdered in Warsaw” (354) Written by Herman Kruk. This is troubling for obvious reasons, and that is the sheer number of Jews that were murdered in the span of one month. On average, 9,500 Jews were killed daily that August.
“Eyes shine with joy and grief at the same time” (353) written by Herman Kruk. This sentence was very troubling because Kruk shows that even when there’s a glimmer of hope, everyone has learned that it could be false. Even where there is good news, there is too often devastating news right behind it.
I found Chapter 22 to be the most illuminating. This chapter was especially interesting because it was written in letters that the writer, Etty Hillesum, had sent to their friends. They are also the only writer this week that was able to write about some of the positive things in the Ghetto. They mention that among the dying children, there are healthy ones. I’m not trying to imply that the Ghettos were okay because some people were healthy, but rather show that Hillesum did a great job at informing the recipient of the letter of what they could see going on in the Ghetto. It could also be the case that Hillesum did not want to worry the recipient of the letter too much, and that’s why they included such things in the letters.
1. There was a group of young people called the White Rose that stood against the Nazi tide. This group consisted of college students and a college professor who circulated anti-government pamphlets during World War 1.
2. Jews were not permitted to have money on them in the Ghetto.
3. Beards were not permitted in the Ghetto.
In chapter 20 this week, Oskar Rosenfeld tells of a woman who was given canned meat that wasn’t kosher, so she didn’t eat it. She didn’t feel right about selling it either since she can’t sell non kosher meat to Jews. If you were in a severe situation, do you think you could stay true to your faith and beliefs?