Memoirs of a Warsaw Ghetto Fighter and A Brush with Death
During World War II, the world largely ignored the plight of the European Jewry. Millions of Jews were transported like cattle to the slaughterhouses while the Allies sat idly by. Though the Allied countries know of and even denounced the great Nazi injustice, none opened its doors for the refugees of the German killing machine. The Jews had very little assistance from the outside, but they resisted anyways. They would fight back in the ghettos, the forests, and in the death camps. In their hearts, they would also resist. Although their livelihood and their dignity had been torn from them, the Nazis could not steal their hope. Memoirs of a Warsaw Ghetto Fighter is an example of Jewish resistance – hope for the Jews.
Simha Rotem, also known as Kazik, the author of Memoirs survived because he was a member of the Resistance. In his book, he led many fighters out of the Warsaw Ghetto through a sewer, and he was responsible for the care of many Jews who were hiding in Polish homes. I was amazed at how Kazik managed to stay alive, especially during the futile spring 1943 Warsaw Ghetto uprising. Somehow, he managed to stay one step ahead of the Nazis. I see Kazik as a James Bond kind of character, especially after he used his Aryan looks for alternate identity.
His experience indicated one’s means of survival, and resistance, involved extortion and various “tough guy” tactics. This made for a more three-dimensional portrait of survival as opposed to some impressions you get of survivors as saints and victims. I appreciated the uncut, unrestrained style of Kazik’s writing. In the preface (pg. xiii), he makes a...