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Marek Edelman. Życie. Do końca

Witold Bereś

H 12 Edelman 2013 okladka

Marek Edelman. Life. To the End. by Witold Bereś and Krzysztof Burnetko, published by Agora S.A. and the World Makes Sense Foundation, Warsaw 2013.

This is a much extended (almost twofold!) biography of Marek Edelman, published after Edelman’s passing. Among the new material in this edition, we find a never-before published conversation between Edelman and Kazik Ratajzer, which took place many years after the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising. This is supplemented with archive material—sensational—for it was assumed that it had gotten lost during the Ghetto Uprising. These are fragments of articles published in a Polish monthly, which was in circulation in the Ghetto. The magazine, Four Our Freedom and Yours, was published by Edelman and the Jewish organization Bund.

The authors also added to this edition some new texts about Edelman’s final years.


I could write a digest of this book and an appraisal for it as well, but for the benefit of the readers of the historical supplement to Gazeta Wyborcza, it is worthwhile to explain why this biography is different from so many other war biographies.

The first difference is that it is hones. Edelman talks about corruption and prostitution in the Ghetto. He talks about the shift in moral norms in the time of the Ghetto Uprising, and how young people changed their ways into what their parents would have called unacceptable. (…)

Edelman’s honesty covers also the relations between Poles and Jews. It is not a good reading for those who prefer to believe in national innocence. There were many Poles who helped Jews—some did it for altruistic reasons, more of them, however, for money. Still many Poles gave aways Jews on the street to the Germans. For altruistic reasons.

And in the end, the tale about war has this moving factor as it shows blind fate effects people’s lives. It is a lottery for those who die and who do not. This is why people die in most absurd circumstances.

(by Adam Leszczyński, Gazeta Wyborcza, April 19, 2013)