of the New York Times published originally by the
Another Internet Hoax
The Warsaw Ghetto Uprising and The New York TImes.
Dr. Alex Grobman
A recent email purporting to be the front page of the New York Times of May
10, 1943 charged that the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising was an "Over-Reaction,"
with European Leaders blaming Jews for their "Disproportionate Response."
This is nothing more than an attempt to mock the Times for their biased
reporting of the Israeli invasion of Lebanon.
Coverage of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising in the Times was limited, and for the
most part, consigned to the inside pages of the paper. Yet there was no
criticism of the Jews for a responding with excessive force to the liquidation of the ghetto.
That so many people believe the Times capable of such criticism is quite
telling. The Times coverage of the Middle East is distorted and the photos
it publishes often vividly portray Israel as the aggressor. The paper rarely
places the conflict in historical perspective, explains why Israel reacts
the way it does and continually urges Israel to makes concessions for
The Times provides excellent examples of how the media misrepresents the
facts about the Arab/Israeli conflict to fit its own agenda. Some reporters
are blatantly anti-Israel; others are more subtle in their biased treatment
of the Jewish state. Both approaches are harmful. The Times is an excellent
educational tool to teach students how the media shapes our views, what to
look for and how to combat this propaganda.
It is instructive to understand how the how the Times and a couple Jewish
periodicals in 1943 reported about the uprising. The uprising, which began
on April 19, 1943 on the eve of Passover, was first reported by the Times on
In a front-page article, the Times transmitted a dispatch from the Associated Press in Stockholm, Sweden: "The secret Polish radio appealed
for help tonight, 21 April 1943, in a broadcast from Poland and then suddenly
the station went dead. The broadcast, as heard here, said: 'The last 35,000
Jews at Warsaw have been condemned to execution. Warsaw is again echoing to
musketry volleys. The people are murdered. Women and children defend
themselves with their naked arms! Save us..'" A day later, on April 23, the
Times reported "Warsaw's Ghetto Fights Deportation-Tanks Reported Used in
Battle to Oust 35,000 Jews."
The Times then moved the story of the uprising to the inside pages of
the paper. The revolt was not referred to again for two weeks when it was
reported that the ghetto was in flames. On May 22, the Times noted that
1,000 Nazis were killed in the "Jews Last Stand."
Anyone interested in the fate of the Jews in Poland did not have to rely on
the Times for information. Much information was available in the American
Jewish press. In the January 1943 edition of the Jewish Frontier, (a
publication of the American Labor Zionists), for example, Wladyslaw
Sikorski, Premier of the Polish government in exile, described the magnitude
of the problem in terms American Jews could understand: "To realize the
extent of the monstrous massacre of Jews in Poland, you must imagine the
whole of Manhattan closed in by ghetto walls behind which all the Jews of
the Western hemisphere have been imprisoned and gradually and methodically
exterminated in groups of several thousands daily by machine guns, or in
lethal gas chambers, or by electrocution."
Also in February 1943, the American Representation of Polish Jewry received
information from the underground movement in Warsaw that the Jews in the
Ghetto were organizing resistance to the Nazis and that thus far over 60
Germans had been killed. The message read in part: " We are going through a
terrible ordeal. We are faced with complete annihilation."
On February 18, the Yiddish daily Der Tog published the following report: "A
dispatch from somewhere in Europe tells of a code message received from Jews
in Nazi-occupied Poland asking 'Is the world really unable to save us? How
long must we wait until help reaches us?"
In March 1943, the Representation of Polish Jewry received word that "Plans
for the liquidation of the Ghetto are announced. The number of Jews left in
the Ghetto is indicated as 10 percent of the pre-war figure." On April 13,
the Times reported on page five that the "Warsaw Ghetto had been reduced
from 500,000 to approximately 40,000."
American Jews responded to these reports with mass meetings, protests and
demonstrations. On March 1, 1943, 20,000 people filled Madison Square Garden
in a "Stop Hitler Now" demonstration.
The uprising began the same day that the Bermuda Conference (April 19-30,
1943) opened ostensibly to find a solution to the problem of the wartime
refugee crisis. The U.S. and Great Britain had convened the meeting to
address the problem, but it was essentially a pretense designed to appease
the Jews and others petitioning for action.
For Szmul Zygielbojm of the Bund (the General Union of Jewish Workers in
Lithuania, Poland, and Russia), the failure to save the Jews became too much
to endure. For a year he received daily reports, appeals and cries for help
from the beleaguered Jews of Poland. In the last appeal before he committed
suicide on May 12, 1943, he was told, "Something extraordinary must be done
to rescue us immediately otherwise we will all perish."
The Polish underground informed Zygielbojm that the Ghetto leaders did not
hold out much hope of being rescued. They believed that the "Jewish leaders
abroad won't be interested. At 11 in the morning you will begin telling them
about the anguish of the Jews in Poland, but at 1:00 p.m. they will ask you
to halt the narrative so they can have lunch. This is a difference that can't
In a letter he left behind, Zygielbojm placed the responsibility for the
murder of the Jews of Europe on the murderers. Yet the Allies were indirectly culpable for failing to stop the killing. By their "indifference"
they became "accomplices of the assassins." Why such lack of interest? "In
our day and age," he said, "human life has little value."
Dr. Grobman's book Nations United: How The UN Undermines Israel and the West
will be published in the next few months.