The Jewish Underground Press in Warsaw
Volume One: May 1940–January 1941
Editors: Joseph Kermish, Tikva Fatal-Knaani
Brothers and sisters! From behind the ghetto walls, we call to you: Have courage! Fascism is fighting its final battle, each [day] its demise draws closer!... Let us create an atmosphere of brotherhood, integrity, and justice—a warm, friendly environment… This we know: Man can only obtain these things in a regime that is just—this is the only regime that can restore humanity to the human race. [Iton Hatenua, December 1940-January 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 among 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 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 in 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 first volume deals with the period from May 1940-January 1941. In the midst of all the distress, famine and death, the editors of the youth movements found a place to write essays on Ber Borochov; to mark memorial days in honor of Bialik and Mendele; to present a historical survey of the history of the ghetto over the centuries; and to plan for the future of the Jews after the war. The writings presented here encompass topics that go way beyond their time frame and remain fresh and relevant today.