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“Socialist Youth Were Still Fighting”: The Warsaw Ghetto Uprising and Modern Jewish Politics

Hosted By: The National Library of Israel (NLI)

Shortly after the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising came to an end, the political struggle over the appropriation of its memory began. In fact, this struggle is still ongoing today. Consequently, competing narratives of the uprising blur the actual unity and cooperation the existed between the rival political forces which formed the Jewish Fighting Organization: Socialist-Zionists, Bundists, and Communists.

This raises the question: what enabled the close comradeship in arms between these formerly bitter opponents? A common answer is that in the face of a Nazi policy dedicated to the extermination of the Jews, political differences lost their meaning. This explanation, however, leaves other questions open: why was a similar alliance not forged with the Zionist Right, the Revisionists, who formed their own separate Jewish Military Union? Why were political differences still visible within the Jewish Fighting Organization even during the uprising until the very end?

The Warsaw Ghetto Uprising was not a deviation from modern Jewish politics, but rather a continuation of it. At the same time, it was also a unique expression of Jewish politics. In this lecture Dr. Tom Navon will outline and explain this duality while telling the story of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising as a grass-root socialist revolt.

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