Hannah Arendt Against the Facts

[PDF][Print]

     [The publication in 1963 of Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil by Hannah Arendt provoked a storm of controversy which has been going on for decades. Arendt, the author of the famed The Origins of Totalitarianism claimed that Eichmann, organizer of the Holocaust, was not a fanatic who hated Jews but a normal man, and that Jewish leaders and organizations cooperated with him to an extraordinary degree.

     In 1963 Gertrude Ezorsky wrote a review essay in the first series of New Politics ("Hannah Arendt Against the Facts," New Politics, vol. 2, no. 4 [1963]), in which she argued that Arendt's Eichmann in Jerusalem—aside from being replete with factual distortions—had a political point, one already indicated in her theoretical work The Origins of Totalitarianism: that the political efforts of normal people and their organizations are incapable of making the world habitable, but that end can be achieved if a few individuals live according to moral principles.

     We reprint that essay here because of its continuing interest.

—Ed.]

 


 

     HANNAH ARENDT'S CONCEPTION of Adolf Eichmann [1] is presented as a paradox: the triviality of the man is set against the enormity of his deeds. In Miss Arendt's view, the man in charge of transporting Jews to death camps was "neither perverted nor sadistic" but an "average" man "terribly and terrifyingly normal." Eichmann "was not a 'monster', but it was difficult indeed not to suspect that he was a clown." His empty, irrelevant and "self-elating" clichés, displayed "the undeniable ludicrousness of the man." Eichmann's vices of the everyday variety—bragging, careerism and social climbing, pose Miss Arendt's paradox most sharply.

     This paradox is, of course, a challenge to common sense. One does not usually judge a man apart from his deeds. But as Miss Arendt has it, in this case, customary ways of thinking are inadequate. The Jerusalem Court, following ordinary standards, could not see what was displayed in the person of the accused: the banality of evil. To her Eichmann paradox Miss Arendt adds another, also ignored by the court: the readiness of Jewish leaders to cooperate with Eichmann, to assist in the murder of their own People.

I

     THOSE WHO ARE FAMILIAR with Miss Arendt's earlier work, The Origins of Totalitarianism will recognize the outlines of her Eichmann portrait. In that book she argued that at a later stage of the totalitarian movement, normal men replaced the "armed bohemians" of the early period. The normal philistines were capable of even greater crimes than the so-called criminals. While Miss Arendt's theory of the totalitarian mentality presumably inspired her portrait of Eichmann, this of course does not prove that her image of Eichmann is a true one. Quite the contrary, if Miss Arendt's theory is contradicted by the facts about Eichmann, one may suspect that it will not hold up in other instances either.

     Miss Arendt introduces psychiatric evidence to bolster her impression of Eichmann's normalcy:

Half a dozen psychiatrists had certified him as "normal." "More normal, at any rate, than I am after having examined him." one of them was said to have exclaimed, while another had found that his whole psychological outlook, his attitude toward his wife and children, mother and father, brothers, sisters and friends, was "not only normal but most desirable." (p. 22) (Italics added.)

      One wonders why Eichmann was "certified" as normal. The only certification which the court required was not that Eichmann was normal but that he was legally sane otherwise they could not have tried him. My suspicion that Miss Arendt is blurring the distinction between psychological normalcy and legal sanity is confirmed by her comment on an article by Gideon Hausner, Israel's Attorney General:

Mr. Hausner's recent revelations in the Saturday Evening Post of things he "could not bring out at the trial" have contradicted the information given informally in Jerusalem. Eichmann, we are now told, had been alleged by the psychiatrists to be "a man obsessed with a dangerous and insatiable urge to kill," "a perverted, sadistic personality." In which case he would have belonged in an insane asylum. (pp. 22-23) (Italics added.)

     Miss Arendt is wrong by legal standards. Sadists and killers are not sent by courts to insane asylums. If they are pronounced legally sane, that is capable of distinguishing right front wrong, they stand trial. Moreover, Hausner's report flatly contradicts Miss Arendt's psychological picture of Eichmann. She seems to be complaining that Hausner did not bring this information into the trial. But she had the information when she wrote this book. Its relevance to her thesis is not impaired by the passage of time. And why her use of the phrase "alleged by the psychiatrists" in her comment on Hausner's report? If psychiatric opinion belongs in the disreputable category of what is "alleged" then what is the value of the psychiatrists' statements Miss Arendt cites to support her own view of Eichmann? One wonders too where Miss Arendt obtained the psychiatrists' statements that she prefers. In the first passage quoted she gives away her source: "one of them was said to have exclaimed." Is this hearsay evidence what Miss Arendt means by the information given "informally" in Jerusalem? As for the psychiatrist who supposedly found Eichmann's attitude toward his friends and .family "not only normal but most desirable," speculation about her source for this information is unnecessary. Surely, Miss Arendt can recognize the sadistic, murderous psychopath who is good to his mother.

     One of Hausner's articles (Saturday Evening Post, November 3, 1962) contains a most striking piece of evidence concerning Eichmann's personality. Unlike Miss Arendt, Hausner supplied his readers with the name of the psychiatrist who wrote a report on Eichmann: L. Szondi, inventor of the test bearing his name.

     Hausner stated that Eichmann was given the Szondi test in Israel and the material was sent to Szondi for interpretation. The identity of the subject was not revealed to him. In his reply Szondi "started by saying that he never analyzed tests of people who had not been identified for him but then added that when he'd glanced briefly at the results they were so extraordinary that he performed a complete analysis. The person who'd taken the test, he declared, revealed in all phases 'a man obsessed with a dangerous and insatiable urge to kill, arising out of a desire for power.'" Szondi reported that in twenty-four years of practice as a criminal psychologist, he had never found such uniform results.

     Miss Arendt, having read Hausner's article, knew the facts about the Szondi test. She did not, however, pass this information on to her readers. As an investigator, Miss Arendt had the responsibility of reporting and appraising evidence which challenged her own opinions.

Eichmann, a Man Who Didn't Hate Jews

     Let it be borne in mind that Eichmann was really trying to defend himself in the Jerusalem Court. Miss Arendt might have considered this when she wrote that: "his was obviously also no case of insane hatred of Jews, of fanatical anti-Semitism or indoctrination of any kind." (p. 23)

     Her sole evidence for this is what Eichmann said before his Jewish accusers. Did Miss Arendt think that if Eichmann hated Jews he was going to tell it to the Jewish court? On the basis of this sort of evidence, none of the leading Nazis tried at Nuremberg hated Jews. Like Eichmann, they denied it. Indeed, Julius Streicher proclaimed himself to be a Zionist.

     Miss Arendt reports that Eichmann said to his fellow Nazis: "I will jump into my grave laughing, because the fact that I have the death of five million Jews on my conscience gives me extraordinary satisfaction." Here is how Miss Arendt explains such a strange source of satisfaction for a normal man who did not really hate Jews:

     In his mind, there was no contradiction between "I will jump into my grave laughing," appropriate for the end of the war, and "I shall gladly hang myself in public as a warning example for all anti-Semites on this earth," which now, under vastly different circumstances, fulfilled exactly the same function of giving him a lift. (p. 48) (Italics added.)

     The "vastly different circumstances" are that he did not say "I will jump into my grave laughing" before his Jewish accusers. Instead he offered to hang himself as an example to anti-Semites. This should have warned Miss Arendt that anything he told the court concerning his attitude toward Jews was suspect.

     How does Miss Arendt explain the fact that Eichmann joined the Austrian Nazi party in 1932? After all, anti-Semitism was a rather prominent feature of Nazi propaganda. She writes:

"A leaf in the whirlwind of time . . . he did not enter the Party out of conviction, nor was he ever convinced by it . . ." as he pointed out in court, "it was like being swallowed up by the Party against all expectations and without previous decision. It happened so quickly and suddenly." . . . he did not even know the Party program, he never read Mein Kampf. Kaltenbrunner had said to him: Why not join the S.S.? And he replied, Why not? (p. 29)

     All this is rather negative. Were there positive reasons for Eichmann's joining the Nazi party?

Of course that was not all there was to it. . . . From a humdrum life without significance and consequence the wind had blown him into History, as he understood it, namely, into a Movement that always kept moving and in which somebody like him—already a failure in the eyes of his social class, of his family, and hence in his own eyes as well—could start from scratch and still make a career. (p. 29)

     Why should Miss Arendt's readers believe that "he did not enter the Party out of conviction, nor was he ever convinced by it?" Her supporting evidence is culled exclusively from Eichmann's self-defense.

     Eichmann's friend, Dr. Kaltenbrunner, who brought him into the Nazi party, was a leader of the Austrian Nazi movement and an organizer of the S.S. The Dolfuss government imprisoned him for sedition. Was he, too, without Nazi convictions? Did this leader of the S.S. keep the Nazi program secret from his friend, Eichmann? Miss Arendt notes, but does not really notice, that Eichmann had been a member of the youth section of a "violently pro-German and anti-republican, German-Austrian organization of war veterans." (p. 28) The wind that blew Eichmann, this "leaf in the whirlwind of time," into the Nazi movement did not have to blow very hard.

     Miss Arendt's account of Eichmann's early years in the Nazi movement casts doubt on her notion that Eichmann "did not enter the Party out of conviction. . ." In 1934, Eichmann applied successfully for a job in Himmler's S.D.* The activities of the S.D. were top secret. How could this Nazi organization draw Eichmann, a recent recruit, into its top secret operations if he showed no signs of political convictions? Within a few months, Miss Arendt recounts; "he was put into the brand-new department concerned with Jews." (p. 33) Is it conceivable that Eichmann was given this assignment without having indicated that he had a "proper" attitude toward Jews?

     The picture Miss Arendt sketches of Eichmann's entry into the Nazi party may not be entirely false. A person may find a role in a political movement attractive because it gives "significance and consequence" to his life. But this attitude is not an alternative to political conviction. On the contrary, those who have such motives are most in need of justifying reasons. They are most anxious to be convinced. The dullest Communist who finds a role for himself in the Party knows and believes the Party line.

Eichmann as a Loyal Follower of Hitler's Orders

     If Eichmann had no fanatical hatred of Jews, what brought him to accept his role in their murder? Miss Arendt explains: "this was the new law of the land based on the Fuhrer's order; whatever he did he did as far as he could see as a law-abiding citizen." (p. 120) This is also Eichmann's self-portrait and once again Miss Arendt is convinced by his testimony. Indeed, as she has it, Eichmann prompted by conscience continued to murder Jews at the end of the war even when other Nazis, like Himmler, faltered. Himmler became "moderate" in the hope that he could assume a role in the peace. But "probably . . . his [Eichmann's] very conscience . . . prompted 'Eichmann to adopt his uncompromising attitude." (p. 131) Eichmann remained loyal to Hitler's orders. Miss Arendt displays Eichmann's conscience at work during the deportation of Hungarian Jews in 1944. The episode she describes is most interesting. In her version of the incident, Eichmann is seen as a loyal follower of Hitler's orders. But the facts exhibit not Eichmann's conscience or his obedience to Hitler's orders but his fanatical hatred for Jews. Here is Miss Arendt's tale of the loyal Eichmann struggling against Hitler's agreement with Horthy for the emigration of Jews from Hungary:

When Himmler's order to stop 'the evacuation of Hungarian Jews arrived in Budapest, Eichmann threatened, according to a telegram from Veesenmayer [Reich plenipotentiary in Hungary] "to seek a new decision from the Führer . . ." (p. 131)

     Why did Eichmann have to seek a new decision from Hitler? The picture becomes clarified if one reads more of the Veesenmayer telegram from which Miss Arendt has torn a quotation:

Eichmann took the position that as far as he knew Reichfuhrer SS (Himmler) did not at all agree to the emigration of Hungarian Jews to Palestine. The Jews concerned are all biologically valuable material . . . He says he intends in regard to the Fuhrer's decision about which he was informed to report to Reichfuhrer SS (Himmler) and if necessary to seek a new decision from the Führer. . . [2]

     So it is Hitler, not Himmler, whose decision Eichmann opposed! Indeed, Eichmann used Himmler's authority to back him up against Hitler. The very document that Miss Arendt quotes shatters her picture of Eichmann as merely a loyal follower of Hitler. Notice, too, that the Hitler directive which Eichmann protests grants emigration to Hungarian Jews. Why did Hitler make this concession? "Hitler agreed to the emigration of several thousand Hungarian Jews, on condition that Horthy should hand over the rest of the Jews of Hungary (especially the Jews of Budapest) to the Germans." [3] This is the decision that Eichmann opposed: a concession of several thousand Jewish lives (the actual figure was 7,000 families) in order to achieve the murder of hundreds of thousands of Jews. Even Hitler was willing to make that concession. Not Eichmann. No Jews were going to live if he could help it.

     Eichmann did more than protest Hitler's order. According to Veesenmayer, Eichmann decided that "to the extent that further deportations of Jews from Budapest would be agreed to, the attempt shall be made to carry them out as suddenly and as speedily as possible so that those Jews eligible for emigration would have been deported before the formalities had been concluded." So Eichmann not only opposed Hitler's order, he planned to block its implementation. Jews eligible for emigration would already have been deported to gas chambers when emigration negotiations were completed.

     This is the man whom Miss Arendt sketches as a law-abiding citizen, loyal, out of conscience, to Hitler, but free of hatred for Jews. But the real Eichmann was a killer, ready to take the initiative even against Hitler's order, so that no Jews should live.

     Miss Arendt's tale that Eichmann was without fanatical hatred of Jews seemed initially implausible and turns out to be plainly false. She does not, however, confine herself to insistence on his lack of hatred for Jews. It seems that Eichmann had some positive ideas on the Jewish problem.

Eichmann as a Zionist

     Miss Arendt informs her readers that Eichmann, early in his career, was required "to read Theodor Herzl's Judenstaat, the famous Zionist classic, which converted Eichmann promptly and forever to Zionism." (p. 36)

     It is hard to believe that Miss Arendt means what she says. Is she being ironic? On the contrary, her own comments on Zionism would suggest that Eichmann's conversion is quite believable. Throughout her book she shows similarities and points of converging interest between Zionism and Nazism. The unwary reader who knows nothing of Zionism would have no reason to question Eichmann's acceptance of Zionist views. For example, in the early period, official Nazi policy favored emigration of Jews to Palestine.

     Miss Arendt comments on this policy:

During its first few years, Hitler's rise to power appeared to the Zionist chiefly as 'the decisive defeat of assimilationism." . . . the Zionists too believed that "dissimilation," combined with the emigration to Palestine of Jewish youngsters and, they hoped, Jewish capitalists, could be a "mutually fair solution." At the time, many German officials held this opinion. To be sure, no prominent Nazi ever spoke publicly in this vein . . . (pp. 54.55)

     Miss Arendt refers to the early pre-extermination period in Nazi Germany as the "pro-Zionist" stage. She calls upon Hans Lamm to support her characterization: "For 'it is indisputable that during the first stages of their Jewish policy, the National Socialists thought it proper to adopt a pro-Zionist attitude' (Hans Lamm)" (p. 53). She reports that Jews who returned to Vienna after forced expulsion "were registered in the police records as 'returning from vocational training'" and describes this registration as a "curious relapse into the pro-Zionist stage of the [Nazi] movement." (p. 70) She points out that "it was during these first stages that Eichmann learned his lessons about Jews." (p. 53) and finds that "it is worth noting that his schooling in Jewish affairs was almost entirely concerned with Zionism." (p. 37) She also discovers an affinity of language and attitudes between Eichmann and Zionist representatives:

These Jews from Palestine spoke a language not totally different from that of Eichmann. They had been sent to Europe by the communal settlements in Palestine and they were not interested in rescue operations. . . They wanted to select "suitable material." (p. 53)

     Miss Arendt insists that Eichmann's "first personal contacts with Jewish functionaries, all of them well-known Zionists of long standing, were thoroughly satisfactory (p. 37) and records his admiration for the Hungarian Zionist, Rudolf Kastner, with whom he negotiated in 1944:

The greatest "idealist" Eichmann ever encountered among the Jews was Dr. Rudolf Kastner, with whom be negotiated during the Jewish deportations front Hungary and with whom he came to an agreement. . . . The few thousand saved by the agreement, prominent Jews and members of the Zionist youth organizations, were, in Eichmann's words "the best biological material." Dr. Kastner, as Eichmann understood it, had sacrificed his fellow-Jews to his "idea," and this was as it should be. (pp. 37-38)

     The implication is clear enough. Both leading Nazis and leading Zionists were concerned with saving "the best biological material."

     To sum up: Miss Arendt's story is that during the early "pro-Zionist" stage of the Nazi regime, when many Nazi officials privately thought Zionism a "mutually fair solution" to the Jewish problem, Eichmann "learned his lessons about the Jews." She discovers a similarity of language and political methods between Eichmann, a Nazi, and Zionist functionaries whom Eichmann admired, even as late as 1944, In other words, Miss Arendt claims that Eichmann simply swallowed the pro-Zionism of the early Nazi period and in his typically ludicrous fashion never gave it up. Getting "some firm ground under the feet of the Jews" remained fixed in this clown's mind as a proper solution to the Jewish question even in the era of the Final Solution.

     One of Miss Arendt's troubles is her conception of Zionism. It is surely obvious that a Zionist is someone who believes that an independent Jewish state will serve Jewish interests. Yet Miss Arendt does not find Eichmann's 1939 Nisko project inconsistent with his Zionist opinions—although that project called for a "Jewish state" in an area without water and ridden with cholera, dysentery and typhoid. The earlier Nazi policy was to rob Jews and let them emigrate to Palestine for there were few countries which would accept Jewish emigrants. This is the stage that Miss Arendt consistently characterizes as "pro-Zionist." Were the anti-Semitic hooligans who chased Jews in the streets of Eastern Europe yelling "Go back to Palestine" also pro-Zionist? The directive to allow Jews to leave Germany for Palestine came from Hitler after he had studied not the Zionist classic, Der Judenstaat, but a Nazi tract of Alfred Rosenberg's on the racial question. Was Hitler also pro-Zionist?

     There was evidence, real evidence, at the trial concerning the nature of Eichmann's "Zionism." In 1937, Eichmann and a journalist from his office, Herbert Hagen, met with a Haganah man in Cairo. Here is Miss Arendt on the incident:

. . . according to Eichmann, what he [the Haganah man] told them there became the subject of a "thoroughly negative report" Eichmann and Hagen were ordered by their superiors to write for propaganda purposes; this was duly published. (p. 57)

     But Miss Arendt does not repeat what was stated in this report, although the court paid great attention to it. Here is a statement from the Eichmann-Hagen report of 1937:

Since the above mentioned program of 50,000 Jews per year would chiefly strengthen Jewry in Palestine, this plan is out of the question in order to avoid the creation of an independent Jewish state in Palestine. [4]

     Not a word from Miss Arendt to indicate the plainly anti-Zionist character of the Eichmann-Hagen report, or the attitude taken by the court toward it. Eichmann tried to defend himself by claiming that the report had been written by Hagen, not himself. Eichmann's own handwritten corrections and signature were taken by the court as proof of his responsibility. A strange Zionist, this Eichmann, who opposes an independent Jewish state in Palestine!

     A most tantalizing contradiction now appears in Miss Arendt's view of Eichmann. She has sketched him as a mediocrity who is "no case" of "indoctrination of any kind." He exemplifies the totalitarian personality who, without ideological convictions, does anything he is ordered to. But in discussing Eichmann's attitudes toward the Jewish question she informs her readers of his conversion to Zionism. So Eichmann did have political ideas and opinions! Side by side with her portrait of Eichmann the totalitarian personality who, with no convictions of his own blindly follows orders stands a different version: Eichmann, the early convert to Zionist opinion, who sends Jews to the gas chambers. The contradiction between these two portraits (both false) goes unrecognized by Miss Arendt. Yet, her notion that Eichmann exemplifies the totalitarian mentality is the major theme of her book. Did her persistent desire to link Zionist and Nazi attitudes render her deaf to her own discord?

Eichmann as a Banal Mediocrity

     Miss Arendt's paradox of Eichmann—the contradiction between the nature of the man and the nature of his deeds—can only be maintained against the facts. Her paradox is itself a warning of the author's indifference to living fact. What Eichmann did belonged to his life. To separate a man from his actions is to deny that the life he lives is his own. Eichmann lived as a Hitlerite. Why should one imagine that his mentality remained unaffected by his deeds which were Nazi deeds, served Nazi purposes and could only be justified in his mind by Nazi ideology? Miss Arendt's notion of Eichmann is a timeless abstraction, not a living history. She traces the role Eichmann filled in his lifetime: an unemployed salesman, a lowly bureaucrat, a high-ranking Nazi organizer of Jewish extermination, an outlaw in hiding among Nazis in Argentina, the accused in the Jerusalem courtroom. She follows his life but never sees it as a development, a history, never suggests that the different roles he assumed had any effect on him. Someone who saw Eichmann in the thirties, handling Jewish emigration, might have summed him up as a banal and trivial bureaucrat. But the limitation of the summary is the limitation of the circumstance. That situation did not bring out—what must have been there already—a capacity for mass murder. That capacity was realized in his crime. It was Eichmann the man who became a mass murderer.

     A witness at the trial described a transformation in Eichmann's personality in 1939 when he assumed executive powers:

"I immediately told my friends that I did not know whether I was meeting the same man. So terrible was the change. Here I met a man who comported himself as a master of life and death. He received us with insolence and rudeness.." (p. 59)

     Miss Arendt finds this notion of Eichmann's transformation too "simple" (p. 59). Yet her own portrait is notably devoid of complexity. She records no change in Eichmann at any point in his career or its aftermath. From her picture of Eichmann one could never recognize the man who was in fact "a master of life and death." That time had long past when he stood in the Jerusalem courtroom. It should have occurred to Miss Arendt that the defeated Nazi she saw in the courtroom was no longer a master of life and death. Murderers are invariably dwarfed when they stand, not among their henchmen, but on trial before their judges. A murderer must appear even more insignificant when his defense, like Eichmann's pleads his smallness. The trivial proportions Miss Arendt gives him come closer to the shrunken Eichmann of the trial. To serve her timeless picture of the banal Nazi philistine, Miss Arendt seeks out details to cut Eichmann down to the size she has selected:

In the disorganized, rambling notes he made in Argentina . . . every line of these scribblings shows his utter ignorance of everything that was not directly, technically and bureaucratically connected with his job, and also shows an extraordinarily faulty memory. (p. 49)

     She finds that his bad memory "must have plagued him even in school—it amounted to a mild case of aphasia." (p. 43)

     I am willing to believe that Eichmann's capacities declined after he had fallen from power. They may have declined even further in Jerusalem. But to describe Eichmann for history as a man who wrote "disorganized, rambling notes" and had an "extraordinarily faulty memory," indeed a mild case of aphasia is simply wild. He was a high-ranking German administrator, cited in promotion for executive ability. The efficient system he created for handling and swindling Jewish emigrants was held up as a model for the expanded Reich. Consider Miss Arendt's description of some of the "difficulties" that came with his role in organizing the Final Solution:

. . . the difficulty in synchronizing departures and arrivals, the endless worry . . . over fixing timetables and directing trains to centers with sufficient "absorptive capacity," over having enough Jews on hand at the proper time so that no trains would be "wasted," . . . over following the rules and directives with respect to the various categories of Jews which were laid down separately for each country and constantly changing—all this became a routine. . . . (p. 137)

     The monster had a very good memory. I take this to be indisputable.

     Miss Arendt, her eyes focused on the Eichmann of the courtroom sees him as an exemplification of the banality of evil. Did she forget the following incident which took place during the deportation of Slovakian Jews? Reports that deported Jews were being murdered circulated in Slovakia. A scheme to counteract these reports was devised by the camp command in Auschwitz and the Eichmann Referat of the RSHA. Jews on arrival in Auschwitz were encouraged to write postcards to their families and friends. After they had been murdered, the cards were sent out in small batches to create the impression that the writers were still alive. Eichmann, replying to a Foreign Office communication concerning a request from the Slovakian Prime Minister for an inspection of one of the camps, wrote:

. . . to counteract the fantastic rumors circulating in Slovakia about the fate of the evacuated Jews, attention should be drawn to the postal communications of these Jews with Slovakia, which are forwarded directly through the advisor on Jewish affairs with the German Legation in Bratislava [Wisliceny] and which, incidentally, amounted to more than 1000 letters and postcards for February-March this year. [5]

     Had Miss Arendt reflected on this communication she might have concluded, that its author, Adolph Eichmann exemplified not the banality, but the cunning of evil.

II

     MISS ARENDT'S NOTION of the Jewish leaders is also paradoxical. One would expect to find that a good many Jewish leaders facing Nazism had behaved with some concern for their fellow Jews. Instead, Miss Arendt claims Jewish leaders cooperated to an extraordinary degree with the Nazis. She writes:

But the whole truth was that there existed Jewish community organizations and Jewish party and welfare organizations on both the local and the international level. Wherever Jews lived, there were recognized Jewish leaders, and this leadership, almost without exception, cooperated in one way or another, for one reason or another, with the Nazis. (p. 111) . . . he [Eichmann] did expect more than compliance, be expected—and received, to a truly extraordinary degree—their cooperation. This was "of course the very corner stone" of everything he did. . . . To a Jew this role of the Jewish leaders in the destruction of their own people is undoubtedly the darkest chapter of the whole dark story. . . . (p. 104)

     Miss Arendt's paradox of Jewish cooperation in the destruction of the Jews is even more implausible than her Eichmann paradox. Her readers are asked to believe that "wherever Jews lived," that is in every country, city and village where six million Jews had lived, recognized Jewish leaders, "almost without exception" served in the murder of their fellow Jews. The very uniformity of her picture renders it suspect. Against Miss Arendt's extraordinary notion of "extraordinary" Jewish cooperation, I would suggest an alternative, not so contradictory to common sense expectation. The Jews of Europe were heterogeneous and the reaction of their leaders to Nazism ranged from terrorized submission to heroic resistance. The strength of their response depended on their situation, personal qualities, traditions, and political habits. Is it farfetched to think that once it became clear that the Nazis were bent on murdering the whole Jewish people, a good many Jewish leaders showed "extraordinary" heroism?

     I should also like to flatly deny Miss Arendt's startling assertion that Jewish cooperation was essential to the Final Solution. Hitler did not regard himself in any area of his activities as a Jewish dependent.

The Indispensability of Jewish Cooperation

     Miss Arendt claims that without the assistance of Jewish officials and Jewish police in the extermination, "there would have been either complete chaos or an impossibly severe drain on German manpower." (p. 104) Yet she fails to consider the fact that the first wave of Nazi mobile death vans in Russian territory killed half a million Jews without the assistance of Jewish officials. In this "complete chaos" one hundred thousand Jews a month were murdered. Alter the first wave, Jewish councils were appointed in a few -localities where forced labor was temporarily employed. This had no effect whatsoever on the extermination drive in Russia. Moreover, why should one believe that without the manpower of Jewish officials—who by a generous estimate numbered in the thousands—there would have been an impossibly severe drain on German manpower? Hitler most certainly would not have regarded such a drain on German manpower as impossibly severe. He exterminated six million Jews, an enormous reservoir of labor, at the height of the war, when the labor shortage was acute. The fate of the Nazi regime depended on its war machine and Nazi officials intrigued to save essential Jewish labor. Yet Hitler ordered the deportation of Jewish workers from armament factories. An important manpower consideration, Jewish labor, did not count in the balance against Hitler's insane desire to murder all the Jews of Europe. Miss Arendt's claim that the replacement of Jewish officials in the extermination program would have created "an impossibly severe drain on German manpower" is most astonishing in The Origins of Totalitarianism she wrote: "Neither military, nor economic, nor political considerations were allowed to interfere with the costly and troublesome program of mass extermination and deportations." [6]

The Jewish Leadership

     What does Miss Arendt mean when she asserts that Jewish leaders gave "more than compliance" to the Nazis, that they cooperated to a "truly extraordinary degree"? In what sense is she using the term "cooperate"? Negotiation, compliance or submission performed under extreme duress can—if the context is made clear —be described as "cooperation." is Miss Arendt using "cooperation" in this somewhat extended sense of the word? If so, what are her criteria for distinguishing normal from extraordinary cooperation in the face of Nazi terror? She never explains her conception of normal cooperation under such conditions. Miss Arendt cannot imagine that Jewish cooperation was freely offered. This would indeed have been extraordinary cooperation. She knows that those Jewish leaders who cooperated "in one way or another" were in all ways—themselves and their communities—under the duress of Nazi terror. At any rate, let it be said that some Jewish leaders—not the majority—"cooperated." The Hungarian Jewish community leaders personally terrorized by threats of Dachau and immediate execution, complied with Nazi orders and counseled the Jews against the consequences of resistance.

     Although Rabbi Leo Baeck ordered passive resistance in Thereisenstadt when death for anyone taken was certain, he "cooperated" up to that point. He was not personally terrorized for he had many opportunities to leave Germany and escape Nazi persecution; yet he refused to desert the German Jews. But he saw no way of helping Jewish deportees except to make the ordeal easier. Hence he "cooperated" by deciding that "Jewish orderlies should help pick up Jews for deportation . . . because they would be more gentle and helpful than the Gestapo." [7]

     Now let us turn to the other side of the story: the non "cooperative" Jewish leaders. The response of Jewish leaders in Eastern Europe is a significant test of Miss Arendt's thesis. Of the six million Jews murdered by the Nazis, three and a half million were the Jews of pre-war Poland. Moreover, the Polish Jews were organized in their own political parties. Let us see if Miss Arendt's picture of "extraordinary" cooperation in which "there was no distinction between the highly assimilated Jewish communities of Central and Western Europe and the Yiddish speaking masses of the East" accords with the facts. (p. 104)

     The late Philip Friedman, a Columbia historian who undertook a compilation of literature on the Jewish catastrophe, reported that "there were underground movements of General Zionists, Socialist-Zionists, Hashomer Hatzair, Revisionists, Mizrachi and the Bund." [8] The largest Jewish party in impoverished pre-war Poland was the Jewish Labor Bund. In the municipal elections before the war the Bund "scored a great victory over all other Jewish parties." [9] When the Nazis occupied Poland they immediately arrested "recognized" Bundist leaders in Warsaw, Lodz and other cities. Bundists carried on illegal trade union organization and underground resistance throughout the Nazi occupation. The Bund maintained a political opposition to the Nazi organized Judenräte (Jewish Councils) almost from the beginning. When the Warsaw Judenrat was formed, its chairman demanded that the Bund supply a labor representative. Arthur Zyglboim, Bundist delegate to the Polish National Council** and a member of the 1939 Committee for the Defense of Warsaw, who had undergone arrest as a hostage, joined the Council for a short period. He threw in his resignation when the Judenrat submitted to the formation of a Jewish Ghetto. Zyglboim addressed a crowd of over ten thousand Jews in the streets of Nazi occupied Warsaw.

     In the name of the Jewish trade unions and the Bund, he told the people to keep up their courage, to refuse to go into a ghetto and to resist if the were forced to do so. . . [10]

     The name of this extraordinarily uncooperative Jewish leader does not appear in Miss Arendt's book.

     In Eastern Poland Jewish political leaders had been killed or imprisoned by the Soviet occupation before the Nazi invasion. Three and a half million Polish Jews were murdered without the "cooperation" in any sense whatsoever of the major pre-war Jewish political leadership. Yet Miss Arendt would have her readers believe that Jewish leaders and Jewish party organizations "almost without exception" cooperated with the Nazis. The fact is that the ghetto resistance against the Nazis in Eastern Europe was spearheaded by Jewish organizations. The Zionists and Bundist parties and their youth organizations, together with Communists, formed the resistance organization that led the uprising of the Warsaw ghetto. In Bialystok a bloc of Jewish parties, the "Anti-fascist committee," together with their youth movements prepared armed action in defense of the ghetto. In Vilna an "Emergency Committee" representing the Jewish parties set up a ghetto combat force, the "United Partisan Organization." Resistance in Lemberg remained weak. Why?

These brave efforts never eventuated into a real large-scale insurrection on the model of Warsaw, Bialystok, Czestochowa and others. This was due in part to the fact that the Germans were more thorough in Lemberg in eliminating the leaders of the community. Without proper leadership, organized resistance was bound to be futile. [11]

     Miss Arendt finds the absence of testimony at the Eichmann trial concerning cooperation between Jewish leaders and Nazi rulers to be "the gravest omission from the 'general picture'." (p.110) Yet the gravest omission from her "general picture" is her failure to mention the "extraordinary" heroism of so many "recognized Jewish leaders." Emmanuel Ringelblum, a Labor-Zionist leader, "one of a triumvirate representing his party in Warsaw, was an underground fighter. [12] He and two other resistance leaders rejected an offer of rescue from the Polish government-in-exile. They answered, "We must fulfill our duty to society." Ringelblum stayed with the remnant of Polish Jewry and was murdered by the Gestapo. Abrasha Blum was the first ranking Jewish Bundist leader under the Nazi occupation Blum, a sick man, fought unarmed against Nazi soldiers in the uprising of the Warsaw Ghetto. Nathan Widavsky, a leading Zionist of Lodz, took his life lest he reveal under torture the names of his underground acquaintances. Rabbis Zemba, Stockhammer and Shapiro, the last three rabbis to remain alive in Warsaw refused to abandon their congregations for the safety guaranteed them by the Court of Bishops. In Warsaw, Mordechai Anielewicz, a twenty-four year old leader of the Hashomer Hatzair, was the commander of the Warsaw ghetto uprising.

     I do not intend to commit an absurdity—parallel to Miss Arendt's—and claim that all or even most Jewish leaders in Eastern Europe were heroes. Yet her wholesale damning of Jewish leaders, as Quislings who cooperated in the Final Solution seems willfully ignorant. A glance at the history of modern East European Jewry could have warned her against her own pronouncements. For decades before the Nazi occupation Jewish leaders had battled anti-Semitism in Eastern Europe. They organized Jewish self-defense units that fought on the streets of East European cities with anti-Semitic hoodlums and pogromists. Two years before the war, anti-Semetic regulations in Polish universities were authorized by the government. Jewish leaders organized nation-wide protest strikes in which every Jewish worker laid down his tools. How could anyone believe for a moment that Jewish leaders and Jewish organizations bred to a militant stance against anti-Semitism would become "instruments of murder" in the slaughter of Jews. (p. 105)

     Let it be noted that the name of not a single "recognized" East European Jewish leader appears in Miss Arendt's book. Not one. Miss Arendt, who proclaims the cooperation of "recognized" Jewish leaders "almost without exception," did not produce a single name from Eastern Europe—where millions of Jews lived—to support her story. She refers to Judenrat officials, the Nazi-appointed councilmen, and declares that "whereas the members of the Quisling governments were usually taken from the opposition parties the members of the Jewish Councils were as a rule the locally recognized Jewish leaders." (p. 104) In Eastern Europe, where the majority of Jews were located, the reverse is true.

"Locally Recognized Jewish Leaders"?

     Miss Arendt mentions two Polish Judenrat Chairmen, Adam Czerniakow in Warsaw and Chaim Rumkowski in Lodz. Her references are worth pursuing, for there were three-quarters of a million Jews in Warsaw and Lodz. The fact is that neither of these men was a "recognized" Jewish leader. Czerniakow was a "little-known leader in the Artisan's Union." [13] Under his chairmanship the Warsaw Judenrat degenerated into a "gang of operators and swindlers," despised by the starving Jewish population. [14] In Lodz, no recognized Jewish leaders offered to serve in the Nazi-organized Judenrat. Rumkowski and two others were appointed. Thus Rumkowski, a small welfare official, emerged from obscurity and whispers of corruption to become dictator of the Lodz Ghetto. In the early days of his despotism, there were strikes and public demonstrations of protest. Rumkowski asked the Nazis for troops to shoot down Jewish demonstrators. [15] Miss Arendt refers to Rumkowski as a Jewish leader. She fails, however, to inform her readers that it was not the Jews of Lodz but the Nazis who raised him to prominence.

     The Judenräte of Eastern Europe were not usually elected by the Jewish population. They were Nazi appointed bodies. Moreover, the councils had a history and a development—something one would never imagine from Miss Arendt's timeless picture.

     At the beginning, when no one could suspect that the Jews were to be exterminated there were some with diverse political backgrounds who saw participation in the councils as a social obligation. It "was a question of responsibility for the life of the community." [16] There had to be some machinery for distributing the starvation rations, procuring funds for schools and hospitals, etc. This sort of "cooperation" was not confined to the Jews. Throughout Europe local governments engaged in day-to-day administrative relations with the Nazi occupation.

     But the caliber of the Judenräte deteriorated as Nazi administrators brought in "weak and corrupt" people, Friedman reported.

I have in my possession material relating to Poland and other countries testifying to repeated dismissals, deportations or executions of the members of the Judenrat by the Nazis—even several times in a single town. In one town, Belchatow, near Lodz, the member, of the Judenrat were thus changed eight times. This was a sort of "negative selection." The Germans sought weak and corrupt characters, and continued their search until they found a suitable person. Among the members of the first Judenrat of this town (Belchatow) there were still a number of persons guided by a sense of social responsibility. Consequently, they were executed. The same thing happened in other places. [17]

     Officials from the First Lodz Judenrat were tortured, blackmailed and sent to a punishment camp. The chairman of the Lemberg Council, Josef Parnas was executed for refusing to increase the contingent of forced labor deliveries. Friedman sums up the results of "negative selection"—the Judenräte were staffed with "men utterly unfit to assume any social responsibility."

     Miss Arendt's assertion that the Jewish Councils were made up as a rule of locally recognized Jewish leaders, fails to accord with the facts. But in denying her contention, I am not implicitly endorsing her notion of the Councils as Quislings who cooperated in the Jewish extermination. There is, after all, a considerable moral gap between a corrupt, incompetent or ruthless official and one who would assume this role in the unparalleled crime of exterminating his own people. Consider that Adam Czerniakow, chairman of the graft-ridden Warsaw Council, committed suicide when the Nazis raised the quota of Jews to be deported. The tendency of Judenrat officials to commit suicide is an index of the desperation that beset the Councils.

     Take this passage from a speech by Jacob Gens, Chairman of the Vilna Jewish Council, to a meeting in the ghetto.

If I am asked to supply a thousand Jews, I do it, because it we, Jews, will not supply, the Germans will come and take with violence not a thousand but thousands. . . . In order to enable a remnant to survive. . . . I had to plunge into dirt and act without conscience. [18]

     I would like to know the political or moral view that Miss Arendt would have proposed at the time, had she been in Jacob Gens' position. In her book, The Origins of Totalitarianism, published in 1951, she wrote:

The alternative (under totalitarianism) is no longer between good and evil, but between murder and murder. Who could solve the moral dilemma of the Greek mother who was allowed by the Nazis to choose which of her three children should be killed? (p. 452)

     Did Miss Arendt mean what she wrote then? Does she mean now in her Eichmann in Jerusalem, that it would have been better to choose murdering the many rather than to murder a portion in the hope of saving some? Or does she feel free to castigate Judenrat officials because she knows now that their policy didn't work? It is to be noted that at the time Jewish underground fighters violently objected to Jacob Gens' view. They were for resistance, the only alternative. But the political lesson of Miss Arendt's book on totalitarianism was that in a totalitarian society, resistance is impossible. Even today Miss Arendt does not say that resistance was possible. She berates those who ask why the Jews didn't fight back as "cruel and silly." (p. 9) I will not go so far as to say that Miss Arendt's attack on the Judenräte is cruel and silly. But where in her book is there a consideration of these Jewish councilmen trapped in the inferno of Nazism that is sympathetic and serious?

The Jewish People

     Miss Arendt selects from the Jewish ranks a special group of cooperators. She writes:

The well-known fact that the actual work of killing in the extermination centers was usually in the hands of Jewish commandos had been fairly and squarely established by witnesses for the prosecution—how they had worked in the gas chambers and the crematories, how they had pulled the gold teeth and cut the hair of the corpses, how they had dug the graves and later, dug them up again to extinguish the traces of mass murder… (p. 109)

     According to Jacob Robinson, special assistant to the prosecution at the Eichmann trial, no worries for the prosecution testified that Jews did 'the actual work of killing in the extermination centers." Jewish death commandos, the "most pitiable wretches," worked on the corpses while the extermination machinery was operated by S.S. men and Ukrainian guards. [19] But let us give Miss Arendt the benefit of the doubt. She thinks that she heard otherwise. Earlier in her book Miss Arendt endorses David Rousset's account of the effect of concentration camp existence on the inmates. The victim is destroyed "to the point of ceasing to affirm his identity." (p. 9) Yet Miss Arendt does not hesitate to affirm the identity of these death commando victims as Jews.

     Miss Arendt, who is so ready to detail the "cooperation" of the Jewish death commandos says very little about the activities of the Jewish resistance. She emphasizes in her brief remarks how "incredibly weak and essentially harmless" the resistance groups had been and "how little they had represented the Jewish population." (p. 108) How, one wonders, did the ghetto revolts take place?

And the witnesses in Jerusalem… confirmed once more the fact that only the very young had been capable of taking "the decision that we cannot go and be slaughtered like sheep." (p. 10)

     Her view that only the very young could resist does not withstand a moment's reflection. Consider that before the uprising of the Warsaw Ghetto, the resistance organization won governmental power from the Judenrat, levied taxes to buy arms, and prepared the battle. Can Miss Arendt imagine that the sixty thousand Jews still in the ghetto would have permitted some hundreds of youths to engage in a political and military insurrection unless, as Emanuel Ringelblum in fact noted in his diary, most were set on resistance. [20] The ghetto fighting force was, of course, composed primarily of youth. Only a tiny store of arms (including two machine guns) could be obtained; barely enough for the trained fighters-none for the rest of the population.

     Miss Arendt's stress on the "incredible" about the Jewish resistance was not its weakness, but, given the conditions under which Jews lived under Nazism, the strength of the will to fight. Acts of resistance brought massive and unspeakably brutal retaliation. The Nazis practiced "collective responsibility" hundreds of times. Yet there were large scale uprisings in Warsaw, Vilna ad Bialystok; a general strike in Lodz, revolts in Tarnov, Bendin, Czenstochow and Borislaw, partisan fighting, even a successful rebellion in the death camp of Treblinka.***

     Consider the condition of the sixty thousand Jews in the Warsaw Ghetto uprising. For years they had starved, slaved in murderous forced labor and listened to loudspeakers blaring news of Nazi victories. Twenty-five per cent of the population had died in the ghetto of starvation and disease. The official ration before the uprising was one hundred and eighty calories. Everyone knew that the revolt would be defeated. Yet they faced the Nazis with exemplary courage-the armed fighters and the population as well, "Every Jew in the ghetto was a soldier," writes Bernard Goldstein, an organizer of the revolt. Girls strapped hand grenades to their bodies in preparation for their last encounter with German soldiers. S.S. Major General Stroop noted the insane courage of the ghetto women. Thousands of people were burned alive when the Nazis set fire to factories. Yet workers threatened with the same fate refused to surrender. Miss Arendt refers to the glory of the Warsaw uprising and proceeds to deny that nay but the "very young" had a share in that glory. (pp.9-10) Yet the heroism of the willing to consign the population of the Warsaw ghetto to historical oblivion. They get in the way of her paradox of Jewish cooperation with Hitlerism-that paradox which is Miss Arendt's "scholarly" tale of Europe's murdered Jews.

III

     WHY DOES MISS ARENDT promote paradoxes? Why does she insist that Eichmann was a normal, average man without anti-Semitic convictions and that Jewish leaders were necessary instruments of the Final Solution? Some may think Miss Arendt's portraits are imaginative sketches drawn by a philosopher. In my opinion, a paradox constructed in willful disregard of fact is a caricature of philosophy. Moreover, Miss Arendt does not claim to be a philosopher. She is a political thinker and it is in this context that her views should be understood.

     The implication of a political hypothesis for organized action is for those who are seriously concerned with political problems, a matter of first importance. Miss Arendt's will to the irrational has a definite implication for political action. In a world that is paradoxical, unpredictable and incomprehensible, rational political projects are doomed. And where reason and experience cannot guide us, intelligent organized action is impossible. This is the political point of Miss Arendt's penchant for paradox. She is an apostle of political doom, an opponent of organized action, an anti-ideological ideologue.

     The essence of her theory of totalitarianism is its incomprehensibility. (Can this even be called a theory?) In The Origins of Totalitarianism she stressed the inability of common sense to cope with the totalitarian movement whose aim was the realization of a "fictitious, topsy-turvy world." (p. 437) She wondered how many people, "once they have fully grasped their growing incapacity to bear the burdens of modern life, will gladly conform to a system that together with spontaneity, eliminates responsibility. . . . (p. 437) (Italics added.) Miss Arendt's suggestion that men might "gladly" conform to the most oppressive regime in history is, of course, contrary to rational expectations. It is also contrary to political hopes that are pinned on the desire of men to be free. Happily, this picture of masses "gladly" conforming to totalitarian terror was dramatically shattered by the revolts in Berlin, Hungary and Poland.

     At least one might have expected that Miss Arendt's voice of political doom would be softened after the Hungarian revolt, instead, in an essay. "Reflections on the Hungarian Revolution," (in the 1957 re-edition of The Origins of Totalitarianism) her first paragraph finds the revolution's greatness to be "secure in the tragedy it enacted." The reader is already warned that such action ends in tragedy! She immediately proceeds to describe some figures of the revolution. Who are they? The intellectuals who fired it? The youth who threw themselves before Russian tanks? The workers who took over the industrial plants? Not at all. Miss Arendt writes in this same first paragraph:

…who can forget the silent procession of black-clad women in the streets of Russian-occupied Budapest, mourning their dead in public, the last political gesture of the revolution?

     This "last political gesture" brings forth Miss Arendt's first dark word on the glory of the Hungarian revolution. Her last word on the subject could have been predicted. In the closing paragraph of her essay she counsels that it would be "rather unwise" to expect the Hungarian revolt (which she never expected) to be paralleled in Russia.

     The paradoxes Miss Arendt foists on the readers of Eichmann in Jerusalem strike the same note of political doom. From the ranks of those average men on whom democratic aspirations rest, rises an Eichmann, the mass murderer while those who should have stood in organized opposition against him, the Jewish leaders, are shown as his accomplices.

     Miss Arendt's attitude toward political ideology, organization and leadership points up her anti-political views. In The Origins of Totalitarianism, she declared all political ideologies to be incipiently totalitarian. (p. 458) In Eichmann in Jerusalem, Miss Arendt castigates Jewish ideological movements, organizations and leaders. Surveying the Jewish leaders who stood unaided against Nazism, she extends her approval only to "the few who committed suicide." (p. 105) She claims that had the Jews been "unorganized and leaderless" more would have survived. (p. 111) Could the political point be plainer?

     Miss Arendt proclaims her anti-political line openly in this book. After damning the German nation for its "moral debacle" (the same people, mind you, whom she had doomed to atomized impotence), Miss Arendt spots a good German: Sergeant Anton Schmidt, an officer who helped Jewish partisans. Miss Arendt swiftly draws a political lesson from his case.

     Politically speaking, it is that under conditions of terror most people will comply but some will not, just as the lesson of the countries to which the Final Solution was proposed is that "it could happen" in most places but it did not happen everywhere. Humanly speaking, no more is required, and no more can reasonably be asked, for this planet to remain a place fit for human habitation. (p. 212) (Italics in original.)

     Let it be noted that when Europe's Jews were being murdered and the toll of Stalin's victims had reached millions, Miss Arendt's political requirements for this planet were still satisfied. Some people (not most) who faced totalitarian terror were living up to Miss Arendt's moral principles and the Final Solution was not happening everywhere. But who with any real moral concern would think that humanly speaking nothing more was required, or could reasonably be asked, to make this planet "a place fit for human habitation"?

 

Notes

[1] Eichmann in Jerusalem, Hannah Arendt (The Viking Press, N.Y. 1963).

 

* The intelligence arm of the Nazi Party.

[2] A photostat of the Veesenmayer telegram is available at the YIVO office in New York.

[3] Judgment issued by the Jerusalem court. (Vide T/1214. para 5; N/85.)

[4] A photostat of the Eichmann-Hagen report is available at the YIVO office in New York.

[5] Eichmann to von Thadden, June 2, 1943, Document Steingracht 64. See Raul Hilberg, The Destruction of the European Jews (Quadrangle Books, Chicago, 1961), p. 471. The above account of this incident is based on Hilberg, pp. 470-471.

[6] Hannah Arendt, The Origins of Totalitarianism (Meridian Books, 1958), p. 411.

[7] See Rabbi Baeck's memoir in We Survived, edited by Eric Boehm (New Haven, 1949), p. 288.

[8] Philip Friedman, "Preliminary and Methodological Problems of the Research on the Jewish Catastrophe in the Nazi Period" Yad Washem Studies in the European Jewish Catastrophe and Resistance. Vol. II, edited by Shaul Esb (Jerusalem 1958), p. 126.

[9] R. L. Buell, Poland, Key to Europe (A. A. Knopf, N.Y., 1939), p. 298.

** He later became a member of the Polish National Council in London (with the government-in-exile.)

[10] Bernard Goldstein, The Stars Bear Witness (The Viking Press, N.Y., 1949), p. 37. Arthur Zyglboim later joined the Polish Government in Exile in London and in 1943 committed suicide in protest against the indifference of the Allies to the Jewish extermination.

[11] Joseph Tenenbaum, In Search of a Lost People (The Beechhurst Press, New York, 1948), p. 119.

[12] Notes from the Warsaw Ghetto: the Journal of Emmanuel Ringelblum, edited and translated by Jacob Sloan (McGraw-Hill Book Co., Inc., N.Y., 1958), Editor's Introduction, p. xiii.

[13] Bernard Goldstein, The Stars Bear Witness, p. 35.

[14] Notes from the Warsaw Ghetto: The Journal of Emmanuel Ringelblum, p. 107.

[15] Sol Bloom, "Dictator of the Lodz Ghetto," Commentary, February 1949.

[16] Philip Friedman, "Preliminary and Methodological Problems of the Research on the Jewish Catastrophe in the Nazi Period," Yad Vashem Studies, Vol. II, p. 103.

[17] Friedman, "Preliminary and Methodological Problems of the Research on the Jewish Catastrophe in the Nazi Period," p. 106.

[18] Mark Dovrjetski, The Struggle and Destruction of Jerusalem of Lithuania: Memoirs of the Vilna Ghetto, 1948, p. 308 (Yiddish). See the July-August 1963 issue of Facts, published by the Anti-Defamation League of B'nai B'rith, prepared by Jacob Robinson.

[19] Facts, July-August 1963, published by the Anti-Defamation League of B'nai B'rith.

[20] Notes from the Warsaw Ghetto: the Journal of Emmanuel Ringelblum, p. 236.

*** A [1943] communication from the Jewish underground in Poland reports the following: "A characteristic trait of this new extermination campaign waged by the Germans against the Jews is—ARMED RESISTANCE on the part of the Jews. During the previous wave of extermination such acts of armed resistance were seldom dared. Once in a while we would receive word about such desperate deeds from on small town or another. Now, the entire situation has changed radically. Now in the midst of a new wave of extermination we are receiving urgent demands for weapons from the ghettos. However, we have very few left. That is why the resistance of the Jews is now not what it was in Warsaw. (Excerpt from Report "A," reprinted in Marek Edelman's The Ghetto Fights, pp. 45-48.)

Like this story? If you do and want to see more stories like this one, please donate to New Politics. Click HERE

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*