Halina Sokolowska’s e-mail Nov 09, 2001, affirming Radzilowski’s findings
Sent: Friday, November 09, 2001 2:30 PM
While I found no alleged reference to the "Aryan side" in the letter by Dr. John
Radzilowski that so offended Mr. Wlodzimierz Rozenbaum, after reading
Yisrael Gutman's book "The Jews of Warsaw, 1939-1943: Ghetto, Underground,
Revolt" (Indiana University Press, 1982), I can confirm that:
(1) the January 1943 events bear little resemblance to what was shown in the
(2) the extent of German casualties alleged by Mr. Rozenbaum ("the Germans
withdrew with 20 killed and 40 wounded SS and policemen") is an invention;
(3) Gutman identifies ADDITIONAL inventions and crucial omissions not
mentioned by Dr. Radzilowski.
Gutman states (at pp. 312-15) that the Jews (and ZOB) were caught by
surprise and only a few small ZOB groups took part in the January 18
skirmish which lasted maybe 15 minutes. "A number" of Germans were killed
and wounded, while others fled. "Most of the Jewish fighters fell as well."
Anielewicz escaped. Perhaps a rifle and a revolver were captured but
certainly no automatic weapons (as shown in the film). There was also a
clash inside a building raided by the Germans where some 40 ZOB members
under Zuckerman's command were stationed. Maybe two Germans were killed.
Gutman concludes: "We do not know how many German soldiers were killed and
wounded in the January fighting, Neither do we have accurate information on
the number of Jewish fighters who were lost or the names of all the fallen."
According to a Polish underground report published on January 29, about 12
gendarmes and S.S. men were killed and 10 (or more) were wounded.
"Uprising" also features an extended scene showing the training of ghetto
fighters and the manufacture of grenades and incendiary bottles. All the
credit, of course, goes to ZOB. In fact, it is claimed that a Jew who worked
in a hospital showed them how to manufacture explosive devices and the
explicit suggestion is that the young ZOB members were versed in military
tactics and trained themselves.
Gutman, at p. 345, thoroughly debunks those claims: "The local manufacture
of weapons (following formulas obtained from the Poles) also contributed
substantially to the arming of the ZOB. Michael Klepfisz received special
training in a course run by the military section of the PPS, and a group of
Jews was trained in the use of explosives by the AK. Once a larger quantity
of explosives had been smuggled into the ghetto with the aid of the Poles,
the manufacture of incendiary bombs began in special arms workshops. ...
they were used very effectively in the April revolt." And later (at p. 357)
Gutman again writes that the AK provided the formula for the manufacture of
explosives." Is it little wonder then that Marek Edelman has stated
unequivocally that without the help of the Poles "we couldn't have started
None of this finds its way into the film, nor the fact that the Home Army
provided additional help in the form of weapons and materiel (one shipment
in December 1942, another larger one in January 1943). Nor is there any
mention that the Home Army took part in diversionary attacks outside the
ghetto walls. According to reliable sources Cpt. Henryk Iwanski of the Home
Army's Security Corps (KB) and his men actually fought and fell alongside
the ZZW inside the ghetto. Later they were to be decorated by Yad Vashem,
some of them posthumously.
In a brief scene a Polish flag was shown flying alongside a Jewish flag in
the film suggesting that this was the ZOB's doing. However, Yitzhak
Zuckerman makes it clear in his memoirs ("A Surplus of Memory") that it was
not, nor would ZOB have contemplated flying a Polish flag. Indeed Gutman
confirms, as per Gen. Stroops's report, that the flag was hoisted by the
Revisionist ZZW, who are not mentioned at all in the film. The ZZW,
consisting of at least 250 well-equipped & well-trained fighters (vs. 500
ZOB fighters--Gutman's estimate), was in close conatct with the Home Army
throughout, and received extensive assistance from them before and during
the fighting, and in evacuating from the ghetto. As for why people like
Anielewicz and Zuckerman of the ZOB had no use for a Polish flag is
explained by historian Teresa Prekerowa, herself a decorated Zegota member.
There were strong pro-Soviet sentiments among certain Zionist factions and
Leftist Zionists saw their future linked with the Communists, whom most
Poles considered to be an enemy on par with the Nazis. The Hashomer Hatza'ir
faction regarded the Soviet-German Non-Aggression Pact of August 1939, which
partitioned Poland between those two invaders, to be a "wise and justified
move." Anielewicz edited a periodical (Neged Hazerem) that openly embraced
Communism over capitalism and the Soviet Union over Poland. Needless to add,
the Polish underground was well aware of those leanings, despite Zuckerman's
attempts to conceal them in his dealings with the Polish Underground.
(Teresa Prekerowa, "The Jewish Underground and the Polish Underground," in
"Polin: Studies in Polish Jewry," volume 9 (1996): 151-53.)
As for the scene showing "Kazik" hijacking a truck driven by a Pole in order
to effect the evacuation of a large group of ZOB members who left the ghetto
via the sewers, that too is a fabrication. Gutman makes it quite clear that
the People's Guard is to be credited for sending a truck to collect the ZOB
members and taking them to a base in the Lomianki forest outside Warsaw.
For more information about this topic, please see
posted on the Canadian Polish Congress web site.
In closing it is difficult to resist the temptation to paraphrase Mr.
Rozenbaum's remarks directed at Dr. Radzilowski: "Does Mr. Rozenbaum know
something that historians of that period missed? Somehow, I doubt."
One more observation: The producers and historical consultants that worked
for years on "Uprising" could not have not known and read Yisrael Gutman's
book. That they chose to "reinterpret" history in a manner that runs
contrary to well-known and well-documented facts speaks volumes about them
and the integrity of the film that has been repeatedly billed as a "TRUE"
account of the events. At least $22 million was lavished on creating a film
with a very deliberate vision of Polish-Jewish relations during this period.
But why should any of this concern Mr. Rozenbaum?
Canadian Polish Congress