Saturday, April 16, 2016

Strange Sounds and Other Bizarre Occurrences

I try to pay attention when I am reading to the little details.  They usually hide a big story.

For example, this extract from a Haaretz profile on the Polish film on a Holocaust theme, "Demon":-

The dybbuk that takes hold of Itay Tiran in “Demon” is a metaphor for the dybbuk that has taken hold of Polish society in recent decades. Jews have almost completely disappeared from there, but the country’s Jewish past continues to haunt it.

A tangible example of this surfaced last week when infrastructure work in Warsaw uncovered a Torah scroll and other Jewish artifacts that had been buried for dozens of years...There are other, even more surreal examples. In the Warsaw neighborhood of Muranow, erected on the ruins of the ghetto, residents talk from time to time about objects in their homes moving around, strange sounds and other bizarre occurrences; some have even been documented in YouTube clips.
For someone like me, 'Muranow' recalls Muranowska Square.

I first heard about that location from my Betar madrichim and then read "מצדה של ורשה" whose third edition appeared in 2013 and which appeared in English as "Muranowska 7".

And now we have Moshe Arens' magnificent study, "Flags Over the Warsaw Ghetto".

In an earlier 2003 op-ed, we read that of the two fighting organizations: -

...ZZW [was] headed by Frenkel, Apfelbaum, and Rodal at Muranowski Street 7. They were prepared to meet the German assault...On the morning of April 19, 1943, Sammern-Frankenberg led his force into the central ghetto area. Ambushed by ZOB fighters as they entered the ghetto, the Germans fled in panic. Sammern-Frankenbergg was promptly removed and the following day, SS Gen. Stroop was in charge of the German attack on the ghetto.

The most important of the German documents regarding the revolt are the reports of SS Brigadefuehrer Juergen Stroop, that were written at the time of the events themselves...Stroop was awarded the Iron Cross first class, for his suppression of the Warsaw Ghetto revolt.

Stroop sent daily reports on the action in the ghetto to Krueger...In examining Stroop's reports one's attention is drawn to the following statement that appears in his report: "The main Jewish combat group in which participated also Polish bandits, retreated already on the first or second day to a place called Muranowska Square. There it was reinforced by a significant number of Polish bandits. The group wanted to fortify itself in every way possible in order to prevent us from penetrating. On the roof of a concrete building they raised the Jewish flag and the Polish flag, as a signal of war against us. In this firefight with the bandits fell SS Untersturmfuehrere Demke."

...IT WAS in Muranowska Square and the neighboring houses on Muranowski Street that ZZW fighters armed with rifles, sub-machine guns, machine guns, and Molotov cocktails, had established fortified positions and succeeded in holding up the advance of the German forces during an entire day's fighting on the second day of the revolt, April 20, 1943. It was the scene of recurrent fierce battles between ZZW and Stroop's forces. This is corroborated by testimony given after the war by a number of Iwanski's men who participated in these battles.

Here heavy casualties were sustained by the ZZW, losing many of its leading fighters. Apfelbaum and Rodal were mortally wounded in fighting that raged on April 27 and 28. Iwanski's brother, Edvard, fell in Muranowska Square, his son, Roman was mortally wounded, and Iwanski himself was wounded during those days.

Many years later, in 1993, a Polish woman, Alicja Kaczynska, who had lived during the war on the even-numbered side of Muranowski Street outside the ghetto, opposite ZZW headquarters, published a book of war-time reminiscences, At The Gates Of Hell. In it she recalls the flags the ZZW had raised over the ghetto.

"On the roof opposite we could see people coming and going, and we could see that each of them was armed with some kind of weapon. At one moment we witnessed an exceptional sight on that roof - a blue-and-white flag and a red-and-white flag were raised. We all cheered. Look! Look! The Jewish flag! The Jews have taken Muranowska Square! Our voices echoed on the stairs. We hugged each other, hugged and kissed."

Those "strange sounds and other bizarre occurrences" recall even stranger and more bizarre events and more evil and immoral.


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