The year 5784 (1983/84), the 40th anniversary of the revolt in the Warsaw Ghetto, has been declared the "Year of Courage" to commemorate an event which will go down in Jewish history as the greatest act of defiance against the Nazi enemy perpetrated by the Jews of the beleaguered ghettos.
Mordechai Anielewicz, the leader of the revolt, described it thus in his letter to his comrade-in-arms Antak Zuckerman: "... something has happened that we could not have envisaged, even in our wildest dreams. Twice the Germans fled in retreat from the Ghetto... be well, my friend. Our dream became a reality. I was privileged to see the Jews of the Ghetto defend themselves with pride and courage...
Mordechai Anilewicz was born in 1919 in Warsaw. He was the commander of the Jewish fighting forces in Warsaw and led the Ghetto revolt. In January 1943, accompanied by a group of fighters, he succeeded in attaching himself to a group of Jews being marched to their death, and attacked the German guards. In the ensuing fight, only he remained alive. On the 8th May 1943, while on duty at the bunker command post, he fell. He was all of 24 years old.
Uprisings also took place in the ghettos of Bialystok, Gzestochowa and other smaller localities, while the Jews of the Vilna Ghetto organized themselves into fighting groups which did battle with the Germans in the surrounding forests.
Yosef Glazman was born in Lithuania and was among the organizers of the "PPA" - the "United Partisans Organization" as the Jews of the Vilna Ghetto called their "army", and was one of its commanders. In the service of the Underground he also served as the deputy commander of the Ghetto Police and acted against those who collaborated with the Nazis. He was famed for his outstanding bravery. On the 8th October 1943, at the age of 35, he fell while making his way to the forests.
Risings also took place in the deathcamps of Sobibor, Treblinka and Auschwitz, while thousands of Jews fought with the partisans in Byelorussia, Bialystok, Eastern Galicia, etc. The Jews were also prominent in the Underground movements of occupied Europe and over one million fought with the allied armies - 550,000 with the Americans, 500,000 with the Russians; 150,000 with the Poles; 1 50,000 with the British, while 21,000 volunteers from Eretz Israel served with the Allied Forces.
The full story of Jewish resistance to the Nazis and their minions has still to be told. Today, 40 years after the Revolt of the Warsaw Ghetto, it is fitting to remind ourselves of the words of the Jewish poet Chaim Gun who wrote "Here we have erected a memorial to the burnt-out ghetto... a living memorial that will endure for an eternity".
The artist Shimon Germize was born in Odessa in 1931 . While still a young boy he wanted to take up art and went to an art school in Odessa, later completing his studies at Leningrad's Rupin Academy of Art. He taught for a while in Odessa until emigrating to Israel in 1972.
He held his first Israel exhibition in Haifa in 1973. His work is greatly influenced by motifs from Jewish folklore. Many of his works depict the holocaust and in them he gives artistic expression to his anger and pain.
He died in 1974 after a long illness.