Polish Socialists in Warsaw Ghetto

August Grabski, Piotr Grudka

Polish Socialists in Warsaw Ghetto

Polish Socialists constituted the leftist wing of the Polish socialist movement during World War II. This was a minority faction compared to the right wing, represented by the organization called Freedom, Equality, Independence [Wolność, Równość, Niepodległość (WRN)].
The group, which used the name Polish Socialists in the Warsaw ghetto since the autumn of 1941, was distributing the socialist periodical „Barykada Wolności” [The Barricade of Freedom] already before that time. Polish Socialists were one of the few political camps which rejected nationalist and racial superstitions and has their underground cells on both sides of the ghetto wall. The PS group in the ghetto was led by advocate Antoni Oppenheim; Ing. Jerzy Neuding was its secretary and treasurer. Another leadership figure was Adam Daniel Szczygielski, who produced forged documents, Stefan Warszawski (Kurowski), responsible for contacts with the Aryan side, and Lucjan Szulkin, editor of Polish socialists’ ghetto periodical. All of them were lawyers and Stefan Warszawski was the Communists’ agent in the PS organization.
The PS members in the ghetto usually met at the gardener’s house by the Roman Catholic church. This was also where „Getto Podziemne”, the Polish-language publication of the PS organization in the ghetto, was printed. Between October 1941 and the spring of 1942, four issues of this publication appeared.
The Jewish subjects in „Barykada Wolności” and „Getto Podziemne” included the condemnation of Judenrat for collaborating with the Germans, the registration of abuses by ghetto administration and of Nazi crimes, the hope for the victory of the Red Army, the stressing of the Jews’ loyalty toward Poland, objections to calls for mass emigration of Jews from Poland, the trust that racial discrimination will be eradicated in post-war Poland.
The organization had its military section but its activity was limited to training. The training was provided by Ferdynand Grzesik and Tadeusz Koral, PS activists from the Aryan side. The military section was headed by the lawyer Aleksander Landsberg, and later by the students Leon Kitajewicz and Helka Eisenberg. In the ghetto, PS had barely more than 40 members. Almost all of them were assimilated Jews, and lawyers and students accounted for a large proportion of members.
The Polish Socialists did not accede to the Anti-Fascist Bloc in the spring of 1942. And when the Jewish Combat Organization (ŻOB) was formed, the Polish Socialists’ organization was already disintegrated by arrests. The biggest blows for the organization was the arrest of Oppenheim (7 March 1942) and the killing of Neuding by the Germans (17 April 1942). 
After the so-called great action in the ghetto, the activity of Polish Socialists died down. The question of the participation of individual PS members in ŻOB combat in the uprising in the spring of 1943 remains unanswered.

 

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