18th April 1943; The Jewish Ghetto, Warsaw, Poland

Jakub, Benjamin and Stefan sit around a table, cramped in the small room, with no lighting.

‘What do we do, let them take us? Then we are as good as dead already.’

‘If we resist they will kill us where we stand. At least we live to fight another day if we go.’

‘Live to fight? We have heard the story of the camps. There is no fighting there. They are exterminating us.’

‘Then what can we do, either way we are dead.’

‘But if we resist, if we fight back, rise up, defy them, then perhaps the world will take notice. They will come to our aid.’

‘The world has been fighting for as long as they have occupied our country. No one is coming to save us.’

‘All the more reason why we should try to do something ourselves.’

‘When they come tomorrow to take us, we refuse to surrender.’

‘They will burn the ghetto to the ground.’

‘Let them. Better to die here defending our home than in some godforsaken camp, starved and weak.’

‘It is settled then.’

The three men nod. Each looks fully aware of what they are embarking on.

‘Will everyone do the same?’

‘So I have heard it said. Some may try to flee, but go where? The ghetto will rise up.’

‘Will the Home Army help us? The resistance?’

‘They will do what they can, no doubt.’

A pause. Jakub shakes his head.

‘So many gone already. If we all die, who will be left to tell our story?’

‘One day the world will know what happened to us. That is why we must fight. We must show that we did not meekly surrender to the hatred they hold for us.’

‘Dear God, why us? Why this?’

‘It is our lot in the world. The challenge we have been sent to endure through the ages.’

‘Perhaps after this war is over, if there are any of us left, it may not happen again.’

A resigned shrug from Benjamin: ‘Where there is religion there will always be those to exploit it for their own ends.’

A defiant fist from Stefan: ‘We will survive. Perhaps not you and I, but we must have faith. No single dictator can destroy a people.’

A noise outside, the sharp crack of gunfire.

The three men stand and shake hands, placing hats on heads and putting on jackets.

Wordlessly they depart for their homes, to spend their final nights with their families.

Written as part of The A to Z Challenge 2018. Click HERE for more details of the challenge.

Each day in April we will visit a different town or city in the European Union, whose name will begin with the letter of the day – today it’s Warsaw in Poland – for a story based on a theme also corresponding to the same letter.

Over the course of the month and 26 stories, we will visit all 28 member countries to complete a farewell tour before Britain leaves the political union next year, touching on the history, politics, culture and people at the heart of Europe.

For a full list of stories and places visited, visit here: THE A TO Z CHALLENGE 2018.

More on the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising: Wikipedia.

69 responses to “W IS FOR WARSAW, POLAND”

  1. inspiring three men. love their faith, their determination to fight back, how beautifully you have end with a positive touch although they are not sure of their return. excellent post. W is We Shall Overcome. syncwithdeep.wordpress.com/2018/04/26/w-we-shall-overcome-blogchattera2z-atozchallenge-atoz/

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hey Iain, Have you read the book Mila 18 by Leon Uris? It is indeed a really heroic fight the hunted jews of Warsaw ghetto put up against the rampaging Nazis. If you haven’t read Mila 18 get a copy and read it. Though in later years the book was discredited a bit it really portrays a really moving picture of the struggle the jews of the ghetto put up against the Nazis.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. That must have been a very tough night for them and their dear ones, I can imagine the feeling knowing you are perhaps never going to see them again. Loved how you brought out the subject of war from a different perspective Ian

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Absolutely heartbreaking. They couldn’t win, either way. And you know what’s worse? I just recently heard that American students don’t even know what “Holocaust” means. So there’s not even learning from history going on 😦

    Thanks for another great post.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I have literally just walked out of Churchill’s War rooms to read this – sent a chill down my spine. We’re on the homeward straight will be interested to see your next 3 letters!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. “Where there is religion….” this line reminded me of a quote by Voltaire (I remember it because it was a topic of debate in college once):”If God did not exist, we would have to invent him.”
    This dialogue illustrates the capacity humans have to be cruel on account of greed so beautifully.
    Don’t you feel when you read (in your case write) pieces like above that we are letting all those who died in wars in all of history down?
    W is for Wells

    Liked by 1 person

  7. You’ve not dodged the hard story have you Iain? Like others, I recall reading Mila18 as a youngster – very powerful. Your story tells an important tale and is full of beautifully crafted lines.

    A-Zing this year at:
    Normally found at:

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Great dialogue. I always found it an encouraging statistic that more of those who took part in the Warsaw Ghetto uprising survived than those who didn’t. A solid argument for resistance to tyranny. Resist and live.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Poignant again Iain. Terrible tragedy and one that should never be forgotten… except over the ages how many times has that statement been made and left to decay in time?

    Always the words too…”Why us?” Echoed in Zulu… “Because we’re here boy. Ain’t no-one else but us.”

    Fabulous job again!


  10. Now that the final survivors of the Holocaust are aging and dying, those who deny this every happened are more and more believed. We must never forget. We must never forget. What would we have done if we were in the shoes of those who lived through those times? Well done.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you Alana, it is so important that this history is preserved. It saddens me that there are those who wish to deny it and still harbour this hatred.


  11. So moving, their determination to make a stand. ‘Perhaps after this war is over, if there are any of us left, it may not happen again.’ has added poignancy knowing how Jews have continued to be persecuted since the end of WW2. Posting straight after your Vienna story provides a timely reminder of what might be. And there’s all that’s currently going on in the UK Labour party.
    A wonderful story of brave men that has so many links to our present.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It saddens me that there are still those who harbour this sort of hatred, and to what end? For what reason? It achieves nothing. Fortunately, I still have faith that there are enough people around who will stop anything on this scale of genocide happening ever again.

      Liked by 1 person

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