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Never to Forget

The Battle of the Warsaw Ghetto

By Howard Fast and William Gropper

We Pledge never to forget the page

of heroism and courage written by the

Jews of Poland in the Battle of the Warsaw

Ghetto. With their blood and anguish they

inscribed the hope for a bright new world.

BY RADIO: We made our final preparations for the attack today. A census shows something less than forty-thousand people in the ghetto, but many are sick or too weak for any kind of service. What few arms we have are distributed. Large houses are concentration points, and separate commands are set up by streets. We have dug trenches everywhere. Everyone has some task. Even the children are to be used as messengers.

HEAR YE,
For this is a twice told tale,
A song of my people that becomes a song of all people;
Will there come a time when the word, freedom, is less potent?
For everlasting glory and not for forgetting–
Then let it be asked, who has a better right to use the word and
use it proudly?
It was on our lips that the words formed, let my people go!
And where was freedom's cause that we were not found?

OF all lands, of all flesh and of all blood,
In the common name of humanity we bore the word JEW,
And though we died for many things, I think we died more often
for the cause of liberty.
If the price of freedom is blood, who has given with less stint?
From the time we faced the Roman on the walls of our holy city,
Hear, oh Israel, the Lord is our God, the Lord is One,
To the time we faced the Nazi in the streets of Warsaw,
Hear, oh Mankind, Men are brothers, Humanity is One.

IF the stones of Warsaw had tongues, lips, and memory,
They would tell a tale and render an accounting.
But how else may it be itemized,
So that one could explain the forty-two days?
A peaceful people, a patient people.
Yet that is only a part of it.
A people with a memory of many things–
How goodly are thy tents, oh Jacob,
Thy dwelling places, Oh, Israel,

Of many, many things,
Awake, as in the ancient days,
In the generations of old!
Art thou not it that hath cut Rahab,
And wounded the dragon?

YEA, and they were like beasts.
The polluted ones, the scum of the earth,
The offal, the obscenity,
The hooked cross and the raised arm,
The degradation of man,
The unspeakable, the unmentionable,
The filth, the slime, the sickness,
The whore of ages,
All that is accursed,
And which men call NAZI.

WHEN the forty-two days came, there were few of us left..
We had been like the leaves of the forest, but now there was a stump left;
The greenery was cut down.
The bough was bereft, the many were few.
Like a river running in desert, the tears had dried up.
Leave off weeping, oh my comrades;
For the child, the mother, the brother and the patriarch,
There must be no regrets, but memory,
And such a fierce anger as the world never knew!
See in the snow-crusted forest where a Jew stands,
A rifle cradled in his arm and a red star on his forehead, Partisan!

LET the memory be cold as ice, clear as glass, and bright as a diamond!
For every child killed, for every body flayed,
For every tear wept, for every moan, every scream, every pain,
For every naked body in a mass grave,
For every cut and bruise,
For every oven where flesh became ash, for every gas chamber,
For every diabolical device,
For every gallows where the bodies, swaying, measured the wind,
For every ignominy, for every wrong,
Let there be no forgetfulness,
Let there be no dimming of the memory.

PARTISANS, moving through the forest toward Warsaw,
Smelled the stench of death and saw the glow of burning,
Said, comrade, fear not, fear not,
Tomorrow, we will be at thy side,
The red flag by the blue,
The six-pointed star by the five-pointed star,
Fear not, dear comrade,
And sang the partisan song:
We strike like the wolf strikes,
We come like the wind and are gone,
And the fascist feels our clenched fist,
Our clenched fist, our clenched fist!

BEHIND the ghetto walls, forty thousand Jews dried their tears
All that were left of the millions.
Freedom is won with grenades and rifles, not with tears!
We are weak and starving, and there is one rifle for twenty men.
And are stones not weapons?
What of our women and little children?
A child can hurl a grenade and a woman can load a rifle!
We are a peaceful people.
We are a people of war! Take your comrade's hand!
Who can resist the Nazis?
Hoist the blue flag, sky blue, and the red flag, red as blood!

AND for forty-two days, the Nazi might hammered at the walls of the ghetto.
In eighteen days, under the Nazi heel, proud Poland went down,
And for fair France, it was twenty-three days, no more;
But forty days went by, and there were still free men who fought in the ghetto.
By the German dead, we measured our dead,
And the cries of the stones underfoot were muffled with German blood,
And we shed no tears for the twelve year old who died with his hand on a machine gun,
Better this way.
There were forty thousand of us, and they took us house by house, man by man,
And they paid a price.
We were flesh and blood and often barehanded,
But we smashed their tanks and stood their bombardment,
And when for ten days the ghetto burned, we fought on.
No man called quit, no woman, no child;
The dead do not surrender.

RECKON with us,
We are the Jews who died in Warsaw!
On the forty-second day, they attacked the last house,
Floor by floor, room by room,
Until only one was left, who emptied his pistol and then flung himself upon the Nazis!
And then there was quiet in the ghetto, because the Jews were dead.

With a six-pointed star on my arm, and a five-pointed star on my cap,
I died in the streets of Warsaw.
Comrade, take the weapon I hand you and use it well!
When all men are free,
Lay it down reverently.

WHEN will our ancient greeting have portent.
Peace be unto thee,
And unto thee, peace.
But until then, no rest; no rest until then.

The Artist

WILLIAM GROPPER ranks as one of the greatest anti-fascist artists in the world. Whether it be with the pen of the cartoonist or the brush of the painter his work embraces a deep love of humanity and a passionate hatred of its reactionary enemies. His paintings hang in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art, the Whitney Museum and others.

Also: Museum of Western Art, Kharkov Museum and Birobidjian Museum, USSR. Gropper's murals are in the new Dept. of Interior Building, Washington, D.C.; N.W. Postal Sta., Detroit, and Freeport, L.I., P.O. He has illustrated 15 books, is author of "The Golden Land," "Allay-Oop," "56 Drawings of the USSR," etc.

The Author

HOWARD FAST, still a young man, has already secured a position of eminence as an interpreter of American history through the medium of the novel. In him there is no separation between the artist and the man. The man and his works both stand in the front ranks of the struggle for people's democracy. With the poem Never to Forget, Howard Fast, as Jew and citizen artist, adds his resounding and eloquent pen to the arsenal of moral and organized might which must ultimately triumph over the enemies of his people.

Among the well-known works of Howard Fast are – Citizen Tom Paine, The Unvanquished, Conceved in Liberty and Freedom Road.

LAYOUT & DESIGN   By Phil Wolfe

 Lithographed in the United States of America by
Litho House, New York

Published by Book League of Jewish Peoples Fraternal Order, I.W.O.
April 1946
25¢


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