Peres given haunting diary of Warsaw ghetto fighter

President receives diary of anonymous writer who conveys frightening picture of Warsaw Ghetto, deportation to Treblinka.

holocaust 311 (photo credit: Courtesy)
holocaust 311
(photo credit: Courtesy)
In April, Jews around the world and the Poles of Warsaw will mark the 70th anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising. On January 27, at the initiative of the United Nations, many member states of the UN will hold special events in line with International Holocaust Remembrance Day.
Nearly seven decades after the end of World War II, evidence of Nazi atrocities continues to come to light.
Sometimes the evidence has been available for a long time but has laid undiscovered, as was the case with a rare diary that was presented to President Shimon Peres on Thursday at a ceremony at Kibbutz Lochamei Hagetaot.
Located on the coastal highway, between Acre and Nahariya, Lohamei Hagetaot, which also contains a Holocaust museum, the Ghetto Fighters’ House, was founded in 1949 by Holocaust survivors who had been members of partisan groups and other resistance movements against the Nazis.
Among them were survivors of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising including Zvia Lubetkin, one of the leading figures in the uprising, and her husband, Itzhak Zuckerman, who had been the deputy commander of the ZOB (Jewish Combat Organization).
In 2001, their granddaughter Roni Zuckerman became the first woman to graduate from the Israel Air Force pilot’s course.
Many documents in the archives of Lochamei Hagetaot were not given immediate attention, possibly because nearly all of them were written in languages other than Hebrew and the translating of them has to be meticulous.
Among those which were not accorded immediate attention were two diaries that were part of the collection of Adolph Abraham Berman, who had been an underground fighter during the war, initially in the ghetto and later on the Aryan side, and who after the war together with his wife, Batya Temkin Berman, made it his mission to collect as much documentary evidence as possible relating to the Holocaust years. The Bermans went through many wanderings and in the 1970s found themselves in Israel and decided that Lochamei Hagetaot was the most appropriate repository for their collection.
It was only after several years had passed that Lochamei Hagetaot began dealing with the Berman collection and discovered the significance of two diaries, one written by a Jewish lawyer and another written by a woman who had been a member of a Revisionist underground resistance group. Each described the hell on earth conditions of life in the ghetto as well as the fighting against the Nazis in the most vivid detail.
Passages from the woman’s diary were read out during Thursday’s presentation ceremony.
Both diaries contain episodes of great courage on the part of those Jews, who knowing that they were unlikely to survive, gathered whatever strength they had to engage in face to face combat with the Nazis.
The writer of the diary presented to Peres remains forever anonymous, although it is known that he was born in April 1906, simply because he reflects a few days before his 37th birthday on April 19, about what it means to look for the last time at a blue sky. The writer of the 28-page diary was a lawyer who crossed from Bialystok to Warsaw in 1939. His father and sister were killed in one of the major “actions” and his mother perished while he was writing the diary, describing the tensions in the area and the flying bullets.
The picture he conveys is frightening. He was eventually taken to the Umschlagplatz (the German “collection point” in the Warsaw Ghetto) where he was selected for deportation to Treblinka.
His fate is unknown, but in all probability he was murdered, because very few people survived Treblinka.
Peres visited Treblinka in 2008, in the course of a state visit to Poland, and together with Holocaust survivors and Polish dignitaries participated in the 65th anniversary commemorating the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising.
At Kibbutz Lochamei Hagetaot on Thursday, he met with some of few remaining survivors of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising and expressed his revulsion at the bestiality of the Nazis and his unwavering admiration for the unparalleled bravery of those Jews who fought against all odds.
Two of the survivors who had been among the fighters, and whom Peres had met previously, recounted their stories. Chavka Folman- Raban and “Kazik” Simcha Rotem told the president about what they had endured.
“In Poland, we dreamed of coming to the homeland not to build a monument, but something living, so we built a kibbutz,” Folman- Raban said.