Flag Over The Ghetto
May 1, 2014
The Nazi soldiers in their black uniforms could not believe their eyes. On the roof of a building in the Warsaw Ghetto's Muranowski Square, two Jewish youths suddenly appeared. With bullets whizzing around them and beset by relentless rapid-fire shooting and strong winds, they hoisted the blue and white Zionist flag with a Star of David in the middle.
"Look, look, it's the Jewish flag, Muranowski Square is in the hands of the Jews!" an eyewitness shouted. But no one pulled out a camera to capture the moment. There is no photograph for the history books, to be presented alongside the photo of the Soviet flag atop the destroyed Reichstag building or the American flag on the Japanese island of Iwo Jima.
Nor has the event received the attention it warrants in standard narratives of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising. It did appear in an excellent 2001 American television movie entitled "Uprising."
Only in recent years has the magnitude of that unique moment been understood, thanks to Moshe Arens and his book "Flags over the Warsaw Ghetto" as well as others, mainly members of the revisionist Zionist movement, who have for years been trying to remedy a historical injustice. In their view, the role of fighters from the Jewish Military Union (ZZW) has been underplayed relative to the heroism of fighters from the left-wing Jewish Combat Organization (ZOB). The ZZW fighters were right-wing followers of Ze'ev Jabotinsky.
The debate over correcting the historical narrative of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising is important, but even more important is the message conveyed to us by those who revolted, no matter which organization they belonged to.
"The dream of my life has risen to become fact, wrote ZOB Commander Mordechai Anielewicz to his deputy Yitzhak (Antek) Zuckerman. "I have been a witness to the magnificent, heroic fighting of Jewish men in battle." This turned out to be the last letter of his life. He died in a bunker at 18 Mila Street, the headquarters of the ZOB, where it is assumed he took his own life by ingesting cyanide.
I don't think I would be wrong if I said his greatest revenge will be in tomorrow's march by the Israeli chief of staff and Jewish army through the death camps; in the flight of Israel Air Force planes through the skies of Auschwitz a decade ago; and in the establishment of the State of Israel and its continued existence, weapons at the ready, and our determination to never let it happen again.