Thursday, April 27, 2017

Today you will be remembered, you who returned yet again to rescue those still there

...Today, Rosh Chodesh Iyar, you will be remembered Leon, and how you and your comrades in arms who had escaped the burning ghetto, returned to rescue those still there.

27 April '17..

(While having posted the beginning earlier this week for Yom HaShoah, today is appropriate to complete the story)

The excerpts quoted below come from Flags over the Warsaw Ghetto: The Untold Story of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising by Moshe Arens. The book is both an outstanding and uniquely accurate account of what transpired, a must read, and one that does justice to all who fought and fell there.

On Sunday, April 18, 1943, the day before the uprising, Walewski and Leon Rodal were in the ZZW headquarters at Muranowska 7, making last-minute preparations. Walewski, who survived the fighting in the ghetto, later recalled Rodal's words:

We will all fall here. Those in battle, weapons in hand, and those as vain victims. But it is important that the memory of our battle will be retained, that the world will know there was a battle. A tough bloody battle. And should it happen that you, of the two of us will survive...and sometime, some-place, you were to meet my comrades, please tell them what I said, tell them that not for a moment did I doubt that Hitler's Germany would be defeated, not I, nor my comrades...that we are fighting for our people and we shall die for them. That we believe a Jewish State will arise in a struggle with our enemies there in that distance land.... During that far-off period of slavery, when the Roman legions trampled almost the entire ancient world, and the whole world kneeled before them, only one small Roman province, Judea, took up arms, rose up to fight for freedom and in defense of the honor of man, against a world of injustice. And that is the reason that Judea is inscribed in the history of man as a symbol of the fight for the spirit of man....Maybe, some day, after many years, when the history of the struggle against the Nazi conquerors is written, we will also be remembered, and, who knows, we will become - like small Judea in its day, which fought mighty Rome - the symbol of man's spirit that cannot be suppressed, whose essence is the fight for freedom, for the right to live, and the right to exist.

By the end of April, with the ghetto reduced to rubble and in flames, the remaining fighters looked to relocate outside, and continue with whatever activities would be possible from there. The surviving ZZW fighters, their commander Pawel Frenkel, and his deputy Leon Rodal, reestablished themselves at at Grzybowska 11, a building outside the ghetto.

At this point Frenkel and Rodal decided to attempt to rescue Jews who were still in the burning ghetto and bring them to hiding places in Warsaw. A unit of eight fighters, headed by Rodal, was charged with the mission. Two of them reentered the ghetto through the sewers, while the other six were to receive those that were brought out and bring them to safety. On May 5 the first group was brought out of the ghetto. The following day (Rosh Chodesh ,1 Iyar), as the second group was being brought out of the ghetto, they were attacked by German troops and Polish police who were stationed outside the ghetto walls. In the ensuing battle Leon Rodal and his comrades fell.

Today, Rosh Chodesh Iyar, you will be remembered Leon, and how you and your comrades in arms who had escaped the burning ghetto, returned yet again to rescue those still there.

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