SZMUL ZYGIELBOJM (Polish: ; Yiddish : שמואל זיגלבוים; February 21, 1895 – May 11, 1943) was a Jewish-Polish socialist politician, leader of the Bund , and a member of the National Council of the Polish government in exile . He committed suicide to protest the indifference of the Allied governments in the face of the Holocaust .
* 1 Early years
* 2 Between the wars
* 3 Nazi occupation of Poland
Jan Karski and the
BETWEEN THE WARS
In his 20s, Zygielbojm became involved in the Jewish labor movement ,
and in 1917 he represented
Chełm at the first Bundist convention in
Poland. Zygielbojm so impressed the Bund leadership at the convention
that he was invited to
By 1930, Zygielbojm was editing the Jewish labor unions' journal, Arbeiter Fragen ("Worker’s Issues"). In 1936, the Central Committee sent him to Łódź to lead the Jewish workers' movement, and in 1938 he was elected to the Łódź city council.
Part of a series on the
JEWISH LABOUR BUND
1890S TO WORLD WAR I
INTERWAR YEARS AND WORLD WAR II
* Belarus * Latvia * Lithuania * Poland * Romania * Soviet Union
* Australia * France * Israel * United Kingdom
Sotsyalistishe Kinder Farband (SKIF)
* Poland * Russia * Ukraine
* Bundism * Jewish history * Socialist parties
* v * t * e
NAZI OCCUPATION OF POLAND
After Germany invaded Poland in September 1939, Zygielbojm returned to Warsaw, where he participated in the defense committee during the siege and defense of the city. When the Nazis occupied Warsaw, they demanded 12 hostages from the population to prevent further resistance. Stefan Starzyński , the city's president, proposed that the Jewish labor movement provide a hostage, Ester Iwińska. Zygielbojm volunteered in her place.
On his release, Zygielbojm was made a member of the Jewish Council,
Judenrat , that the Nazis had created. The Nazis ordered the
Judenrat to begin the creation of a ghetto within Warsaw. Because of
Zygielbojm's public opposition to the order, his fellow Bundists
feared for his safety and arranged for him to leave. In December 1939,
Zygielbojm reached Belgium. Early in 1940, he spoke before a meeting
Labour and Socialist International in
When the Nazis invaded Belgium in May 1940, Zygielbojm went to France
and then the US, where he spent a year and a half trying to convince
Americans of the dire situation facing Jews in Nazi-occupied Poland.
In March 1942, he arrived in
His booklet, written in English before his suicide in 1942 and titled "Stop Them Now. German Mass Murder of Jews in Poland", with a foreword by Lord (Josiah) Wedgwood , was his final attempt to focus world attention on what was happening to Jews in Europe.
I must mention here that the Polish population gives all possible help and sympathy to the Jews. The solidarity of the population in Poland has two aspects: first it is expressed in the common suffering and secondly in the continued joint struggle against the inhuman occupying Power. The fight with the oppressors goes on steadily, stubbornly, secretly, even in the ghetto, under conditions so terrible and inhuman that they are hard to describe or imagine.... The Polish and Jewish population keep in constant touch, exchanging newspapers, views and instructions. The walls of the ghetto have not really separated the Jewish population from the Poles. The Polish and the Jewish masses continue to fight together for common aims, just as they have fought for so many years in the past.
JAN KARSKI AND THE WARSAW GHETTO
In the middle of 1942,
Jan Karski , who had been serving as a courier
between the Polish underground and the Polish government in exile, was
smuggled into the
In the months following his return from Warsaw, Karski reported to
the Polish, British and American governments on the situation in
Poland, especially the
In December, Karski described the conditions in the ghetto to Zygielbojm. Zygielbojm asked whether Karski had any messages from the Jews in the ghetto. As Karski later wrote, he passed along Feiner's message:
This is what they want from their leaders in the free countries of the world, this is what they told me to say: "Let them go to all the important English and American offices and agencies. Tell them not to leave until they obtain guarantees that a way has been decided upon to save the Jews. Let them accept no food or drink, let them die a slow death while the world is looking on. Let them die. This may shake the conscience of the world.
Two weeks later, Zygielbojm spoke again on
THE ALLIES\' INACTION AND ZYGIELBOJM\'S SUICIDE PROTEST
On April 19, 1943, the Allied governments of the UK and the US met in
Bermuda , ostensibly to discuss the situation of the Jews in
Nazi-occupied Europe. By coincidence, that same day the Nazis
attempted to liquidate the remaining Jews in the
By the beginning of May, the futility of the
Bermuda Conference had
become apparent. Days later, Zygielbojm received word of the
suppression of the
In a long, detailed "suicide letter", addressed to Polish president
The responsibility for the crime of the murder of the whole Jewish nationality in Poland rests first of all on those who are carrying it out, but indirectly it falls also upon the whole of humanity, on the peoples of the Allied nations and on their governments, who up to this day have not taken any real steps to halt this crime. By looking on passively upon this murder of defenseless millions tortured children, women and men they have become partners to the responsibility.
I am obliged to state that although the Polish Government contributed largely to the arousing of public opinion in the world, it still did not do enough. It did not do anything that was not routine, that might have been appropriate to the dimensions of the tragedy taking place in Poland....
I cannot continue to live and to be silent while the remnants of
Polish Jewry, whose representative I am, are being murdered. My
comrades in the
By my death, I wish to give expression to my most profound protest against the inaction in which the world watches and permits the destruction of the Jewish people.
He wished his letter to be known not only by the Polish President and prime minister in exile. He wrote: "I am certain that the President and the Prime Minister will send out these words of mine to all those to whom they are addressed, and that the Polish Government will embark immediately on diplomatic action and explanation of the situation, in order to save the living remnant of the Polish Jews from destruction."
After his death, Zygielbojm's seat in the Polish exile parliament was taken over by Emanuel Scherer.
Zygielbojm's younger son, Joseph, survived the Ghetto's destruction.
After taking a leadership role in the Polish resistance during the
war, he immigrated to the United States, where he became a scientist
In May 1996, a plaque in memory of Zygielbojm was dedicated on the
corner of Porchester Road and Porchester Square in London, near
Zygielbojm's home. The creation of the memorial had been a joint
project of the Bund and the Jewish Socialists\' Group . Among those
who participated in the memorial's unveiling were members of
Zygielbojm's family, the Polish ambassador, and the mayor of
Westminster . Every May, supporters of the
A granite memorial to Zygielbojm was incorporated in the construction
of the building at 5 S. Dubois Street in
Muranów , a housing project
built after the war on the ruins of the
Zygielbojm's body was cremated in symbolic protest and unity with the
murdered millions of the Holocaust. In 1959, his surviving son located
the cremains in a shed in the Jewish cemetery of Golder's Green in
London. Because Zygielbojm had been cremated, the religious community
would not permit his ashes to be buried in a Jewish cemetery. With the
assistance of the American Jewish labor movement, Zygielbojm's
cremains were brought to the U.S. In 1961, his cremains were interred
in an honored ceremony before a respectful assemblage of 3,000 at the
New Mt. Carmel Cemetery in Ridgewood , New York, beneath a dignified
funerary monument. His grave is located at the far side of the old
part of the cemetery, in section 3, block B, area 10C, right by the
paved path in the very front (grave #1). The six-sided monument of
pink-hued stone is about five feet high. It is surmounted by an
eternal flame in stone. Three of the sides quote from Zygielbojm's
suicide letter in Hebrew, English, and Yiddish: "My comrades in the
Zygielbojm is the subject of a 2001 Polish documentary film , Śmierć Zygelbojma ("The Death of Zygielbojm"). The film, directed by Dżamila Ankiewicz , won a special mention at the Kraków Film Festival .
* ^ sometimes spelled Zygelbojm or Zigelboim
* ^ A B C D "Szmul Mordekhai Zygielbojm," Aktion Reinhard Camps.
* ^ A B R. Henes, Shmuel Mordekhai (Arthur) Zigelboim,
Commemoration Book Chelm (Translation of Yisker-bukh Chelm, published
in Yiddish in Johannesburg, 1954), pp. 287-294.
* ^ A B
This article's USE OF EXTERNAL LINKS MAY