Search JTA's historical archive dating back to 1923

Polish Jews Join in Defense Work; Many Dig Trenches, Work on Sabbath

August 29, 1939
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

The Jewish population is actively participating in special defense measures throughout the country. Old and young Jews, many of them wearing traditional garb, are digging air raid precaution trenches, of which Warsaw alone has 250 covering several kilometers.

Many orthodox Jews are working even on the Sabbath, holding that the danger of war and the duty of defending their country absolves them from observing the Sabbath rest. Many Jewish food stores were open Saturday to enable the population to lay in emergency rations.

All Jewish organizations, including the Writers’ and Journalist’ Association, have instructed their members to take part in the trench digging.

The entire Jewish press appeals to the Jews to make the greatest possible sacrifices to defend the country against Nazi aggression. The Jewish Parliamentary Club adopted a resolution worded as follows: “In the present decisive hour when, in a manner rousing the admiration of the whole world, the Polish State is preparing to resist plans threatening its integrity, independence and sovereignty against barbarism, godlessness and breach of faith, the entire Jewish population of Poland declares that it is prepared to make any sacrifice for strengthening of the country’s internal unity and defense forces. This preparedness is not only an expression of desire to perform normal duties but is the result of the deepest civic conviction that the fate of the Polish State, with which we are indissolubly bound, is at stake. Patriotism is not only a duty but the equal right of equal citizens.”

The Bund, Jewish Socialist party, today issued a proclamation declaring that the Jewish masses were prepared to make the supreme sacrifice, together with the Polish masses, for the liberty and independence of Poland.

“At the hour when the country’s fate is to be decided,” the proclamation said, “we declare once more, in the name of the great Jewish masses, their readiness to make the supreme sacrifice, together with the entire working population of Poland, in the fight for independence and full liberty.” Fascist aggression will be stopped only by the strongest resistance of non-Fascist powers and free nations, to which the Anglo-Polish pact is an important contribution, the proclamation said.

Polska Zbrojna, organ of Polish military circles, urged Polish Jews to assume a share of the duties and burdens in the crisis. “International connections and interests not directly bound up with the Polish State no longer count,” the paper asserted. “The Jewish minority must realize that their racial interests must disappear, and also the panic feeling of being threatened must disappear. Anyone living on Polish soil must stand the great test of his life.”

In certain circumstances the Jews in Poland show more understanding for the welfare of the country than the Polish nationalists, Robotnik, organ of the Polish Socialist Party states in a leading article in which it appeals against to the Endeks and other extremist nationalist parties in Poland to stop their anti-Semitic propaganda in view of the present war danger.

Recommended from JTA