Those returning from the camps must find life here… not a killing field but a battlefield, for they, too, will not cease struggling… Know, brothers, all situated in distant camps, working under the whip of your oppressors, you, who are trying to bear your suffering with courage, you who were cut off from all that was dear to you, know that we are not giving up on the struggle even for a moment, for we are active and working. May it be our condolence and yours. (Dror Wolność, May 1941)
The Jewish underground press in Warsaw under the Nazi occupation was a tangible expression of the momentum of the political-underground enterprise. Almost all of the dozens of newspapers and pamphlets written in Yiddish, Polish and Hebrew that were circulated in secret amongst the Jews in the Warsaw ghetto were produced by a wide range of political organizations and youth movements – communist, socialist, and Zionist – such as the Bund, Hashomer Hatzair, Dror-Hechalutz and Betar. The different underground newspapers dealt with the major issues of communal and ideological significance. They presented descriptions of life in the ghetto; attitudes towards the Judenrat and its institutions; analyses of the nature of the war; and the Land of Israel and the future of the Jewish nation. They also addressed practical concerns of ghetto life such as welfare and mutual assistance, and publicized news of the fate of the Jews as it trickled through the ghetto walls. The differences in outlooks and ideological positions reflected in these papers were essentially the continuation of the prewar political platforms of each group, adapted to echo the new circumstances. The translation of The Jewish Underground Press in Warsaw, first published in Hebrew by Yad Vashem in six volumes between the years 1979-1997, and now introduced to the English reader, reveals an astonishing breadth of historical knowledge. This second volume covers the months February–July 1941. In the midst of all the distress, famine and death, the editors of the youth movements found a place to include essays on Bialik and Herzl, Peretz and Mendele; to analyze Hebrew poetry; to publish book reviews and education columns; and even to mark International Women’s Day. The writings presented here encompass topics that go way beyond their time frame and remain fresh and relevant today.