Friday, March 23, 2012

Warsaw honors fighter killed in ghetto uprising

From JPost, 21 Mar 2012:
Sixty-nine years after he died in the Warsaw Ghetto uprising, a plaque was dedicated to Jewish fighter Pavel Frankel in a ceremony held Tuesday in the city where he died.

Composite drawing of Pavel Frankel - a portrait drawn by Gil Gibli* a police artist, based on descriptions provided by the last remaining people who knew him.

The ceremony was attended by Education Minister Gideon Sa’ar, former defense minister Moshe Arens, a native of Poland, as well as Warsaw Mayor Hanna Gronkiewicz-Waltz and the Polish deputy education minister.
“This represents the mending of the historical tragedy of Pavel Frankel and his brothersin- arms in the Jewish army, who fell in battle and whose story has not been told for many years and who did not receive the proper recognition they deserve for their part in the Warsaw Ghetto uprising,” said Sa’ar.
Frankel was 23 years old when he was killed fighting in the uprising in 1943.
From the Jabotinsky Institute in Israel:
Pavel Frankel Square Dedicated in Herzliya In Memory of Betar Leader in the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising
On July 13, 2008, a square at the junction of Hadar and Leib Yaffe Streets in Herzliya was dedicated in memory of Pavel Frankel (1920-1943), leader of the Jewish Military Organization (ZZW) in the Warsaw Ghetto. Herzliya City Council member Yaron Olami filed the request to name the square for the Betar commander. Frankel commanded the Jewish Military Organization in the Warsaw Ghetto’s Moranowska Square, where, according to witnesses, the most fierce and difficult fighting of the uprising took place.
The names of Frankel and the organization he headed are almost non-existent in national and world memory. Haim Lazar, whose family members were present at the ceremony, was the first to write about the Betar uprising in his book, Masada of Warsaw. Representatives of the Jabotinsky Institute, the Begin Heritage Center and Betar also attended the ceremony, along with many Herzliya residents.
Herzliya mayor Yael German said in her remarks that “today we pay a historic debt. The anonymous heroes who fought steadfastly and bravely during the Shoah for the survival of the Jewish People were not always granted perpetuation in the annals of history.” She concluded her remarks with a quote from Yigal Alon: “A nation that does not respect its past faces a present of weakness and a future pervaded by clouds.”
Likud chairman and former prime minister MK Binyamin Netanyahu, said that truth and justice were one and the same. History is selective and it often distorts, twists or simply omits facts. The case of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising is not understood. The saga of the uprising is known and recognized throughout the world, marking a turning point in the fate of the Jewish nation. The young Jews who fought in Warsaw, members of all youth movements, are deserving of veneration. Yet, it is incomprehensible how the actions of Frankel and his Betar comrades in the Uprising are ignored.
The Polish ambassador to Israel, Agnieszka Magdziak-Miszewska, expressed her pride at participating in the dedication. She said that while Pavel Frankel was a part of Jewish and Israeli history, he was no less a part of Polish history. She added that on the previous Holocaust Memorial Day, the Polish Embassy in Israel had helped place a sign in Moranowska Square in Warsaw in memory of the ZZW. Its members were not commemorated in the official narrative of the ghetto uprising since they were members of Betar, and because many of them were officers and soldiers in the Polish army who maintained contact with the Polish underground Armia Krajowa. Now, after many years of the perversion of history, she was proud to stand as a representative of the liberal Republic of Poland.
Former defense minister and foreign minister Moshe Arens, who has been involved for a number of years in commemorating ZZW’s role in the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, will soon publish his research. According to Arens, 65 years ago, on the 19th of July, Pavel Frankel fell in the final battle that took place in the Ghetto. Frankel and 11 of his fighters had been discovered by the Germans at 11 Zabowska Street. All of the Jewish heroes fell in the fierce fighting that left four Germans dead and many others injured.
Mordechai Anilewicz and Pavel Frankel, leaders of the two largest military organizations in the Ghetto, set out on April 19, 1943 to fight the German murderers in a war of few against many. They knew they had no chance to prevail; yet that this was a war for the pride of the Jewish nation. Atop the tallest building on Moranowska Street, they hoisted two flags: the Zionist flag — the Israeli flag, and the Polish flag. The Germans were forced to battle for three days in order to remove these flags.
Arens concluded with a quote from Frankel, who, several days before the Uprising had told his friends, “We will die young here, but we will not sentence ourselves to obscurity. Jewish children in the State that will arise will yet learn of our struggle.” 

*A Holocaust hero rescued from obscurity

By Yair Sheleg
A picture of Pavel Frankel, the leader of the Beitar uprising in the Warsaw Ghetto has been "located" after 61 years. This is not an authentic photo that has suddenly surfaced, but a portrait drawn by a police artist based on descriptions provided by the last remaining people who knew him.
The drawing is part of a project initiated by former defense minister Moshe Arens, who decided to "redeem" the Beitar movement's role from oblivion and write a large study on the Beitar rebellion in the Warsaw Ghetto in 1943.
Arens says that it is already clear that the role played by Beitar - which operated separately from the rest of the underground fighters who were led by Mordechai Anielewicz "because Anielewicz's people viewed them as fascists and refused to work in cooperation with them" - was much greater than previously documented.
"They had far more weapons," says Arens, "including two machine guns, and at a certain stage they even gave grenades to Anielewicz's fighters."
Arens discovered during his research that not one photo of Frankel, who was killed in the uprising, had survived. He decided to commission a drawing of the man based on testimony.
Through friends in the Israeli Police, Arens met Gil Gibli, the portrait artist for Globes newspaper who also works as a composite portrait artist for the police. He drew the composite that led to the identification of the 17th victim in the suicide bombing at Megiddo in 2002, and recently gained acclaim as the illustrator of a book written by the late former chief of staff, Rafael Eitan, for his grandchildren.
Arens arranged a drawing session with Gibli and three of the last witnesses Arens managed to locate from among Frankel's acquaintances: Yisrael Ribek, who had Frankel as his group leader in the Beitar youth movement; Milka Rosenzwieg, who knew Frankel before the war; and Fella Finkelstein, who was in Frankel's command during the uprising. Gibli, who tried to help them remember and describe the man they knew 60 years ago, said that his method was different than when drawing a regular criminal composite.
"First of all, there is more time for asking questions," explained Gibli. "It is not `a ticking bomb.' Of course it is very hard to have them focus on the image. I had the best success with Ribek, and his description was the basis for the portrait. Milka had trouble remembering, but confirmed what Ribek said. They had a difference of opinion as to whether he had a mustache. Ribek and Fella remembered him having one, Milka did not. I drew two possibilities, but I tend to believe he had a mustache, because it fits the general description I received from them, and also from the fact that he became a leader."
Finkelstein, 79, who was an 18-year-old signaler at the time, says, "I remember him very well, but only in general terms. It is hard for me to say whether he had thick or thin eyebrows, or what type of nose he had. So Gibli showed me the drawings he had made, and I told him what was right."
Finkelstein has not yet seen the final portrait, but she gave the latest drafts a seven, "because they looked about right, but not perfect."...
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