Friday, February 5, 2016

Riots and Rebellions: When is Violence the Answer?

Violence is never the answer to anything. - millions of people
  • The June Rebellion, also known as the Paris Uprising of 1832, was a failure. But without it, we wouldn't have one of the greatest novels and one of the greatest musicals of all-time. (Les Miserables)
  • The Warsaw Ghetto Uprising of 1943 was crushed. However, I'm not going to be the one to say that the Jewish community should have willingly and peacefully gone to their deaths.
  • There was a rebellion in the late 18th century in America that was quite successful, and another in the mid 19th century which wasn't.
  • Violent protests in the late 19th century led to the 40-hour work week, child labor laws, and safer working conditions for all.
Sometimes, in the course of human events, violence becomes necessary. In my opinion, with a government or society that is willing to listen, non-violence tends to work better. The key question becomes - how long do you wait before you decide that society isn't really willing to listen to you? And who gets to make that decision?

Have any of your ancestors or relatives participated in riots, rebellions, or revolutions?

Here's a list of "incidents of civil unrest" in the United States and another list from Colonial America.
Here's a worldwide list of riots and another worldwide list of revolutions and rebellions.

The difference between a riot and a rebellion can sometimes be a matter of who is writing the history. Some people argue riots are more spontaneous and don't have a unified purpose. However, participants in what society decides to call a 'riot' might argue with whether the event was spontaneous or without a cause.

Do I have kin who participated in civil unrest?

I will ignore late 20th century and more recent unrest, as I may or may not have relatives who participated, but if I did, they, or their close families, are still alive.

I've blogged before about my great grandmother's brother, who appears in some news reports related to the East St. Louis Race Riot of 1917. He wasn't a participant, but testified about the whereabouts of an employee who may have been.

An Elisha Horton is listed among the participants of the Boston Tea Party. He may or may not be related to my Horton ancestors.

Warsaw Ghetto, 1940-1943

When I discovered the Warsaw Ghetto Database, I knew I had to search for my Newmark surname. My Newmark ancestors left the Warsaw area in the 1880s, but were any of these ghetto residents related? If so, what were their roles in the uprising? The closest relation they could  be to me would be second cousins to my grandfather (assuming that my second great grandfather, Samuel Newmark, may have had some brothers in Warsaw.)

Entries for four Neumarks and three Najmarks appear, though there may be some duplicated individuals within them. The database provides details taken from various sources - some lengthy; some short. Some of the Polish has been translated into English already; some hasn't. I went in search of more information on some of the events mentioned. The information wasn't necessarily what I was hoping for - but the decisions ghetto residents had to make certainly weren't easy ones.
  • Lejbus Najmark - Judenrat
  • Stanislaw Najmark
    • Polish: starszy syn autorki , zastrzelony w związku ze sprawą Kotta
    • English: author's elder son, shot in connection with Kott's affair
  • Najmarkowa - [basically: Mrs. Najmark. -owa indicates a married woman] 
    • Polish: żona jednego z dyrektorów Zakładu Zaopatrywania; w getcie warszawskim działała społecznie - organizacja koncertów; w czasie akcji straciła matkę, jeden syn zginął w związku ze sprawą Kotta, drugi na wschodzie, mąż w czasie akcji styczniowej; przeszła na stronę aryjską po I akcji, ukrywała się na Saskiej Kępie; autorka relacji
    • English: wife of one of directors' of the Supply Section; in the Warsaw ghetto she was active socially - organised concerts; during an action she lost mother; one son died in connection with Kott's case, the other one in the East, husband during the January action; she crossed to the 'Aryan side' after the First Action, she hid in Saska Kepa; author of testimony.
  • Juliana (?) Neumark [This appears to be the same woman as Najmarkowa, providing a possible first name, and reinforcing that despite the different spelling, these are matching surnames. The Warsaw Ghetto Database doesn't yet have an English translation, but Google Translate provides a clumsy translation] 
    • Polish: żona Juliana; miała dwóch synów: jeden z synów zginął w styczniu 1940 roku w związku z aferą Kotta, a drugi syn w lutym 1940 roku przepadł podczas przechodzenia granicy sowiecko-niemieckiej pod Bełżcem; pracowała wraz z aktorem Turkowem w dziale oświaty; jako Elżbieta Kucharska schroniła się po stronie aryjskiej dzięki pomocy Gerarda Gadeyskiego, przedwojennego dyrektora programowego Polskiego Radia, który po wojnie został jej mężem; do niedawna pracowała w Towarzystwie im. Fryderyka Szopena; obecnie mieszka na Saskiej Kępie i jest na emeryturze."
    • English (Google Translate): wife, Juliana; had two sons: one of the sons died in January 1940 in connection with the scandal Kott, a second son in February 1940 was lost when passing the border of the Soviet-German at Belzec; she worked along with actor Turkow in the department of education; as Elizabeth Kucharska refuge on the Aryan side with the help of Gerard Gadeyskiego pre-war Polish Radio program director, who after the war became her husband; Until recently, she worked in the Society of them. Frederic Chopin; now lives in Saska Kepa and is retired.
      • Is it possible instead of Juliana, the Polish actually means: Wife of Julian?
  • Julian Neumark (Intelligentsia)
    • Polish:  serdeczny przyjaciel Jana Kucińskiego; naczelnik działu w Zakładzie Zaopatrywania Dzielnicy Żydowskiej; zginął w styczniu 1943 roku; miał dwóch synów: jeden z synów zginął w styczniu 1940 roku w związku z aferą Kotta, a drugi syn w lutym 1940 roku przepadł podczas przechodzenia granicy sowiecko-niemieckiej pod Bełżcem.
    • English (Google Translate): good friend John Kuciński; Head of department at the Department of Procurement Jewish Quarter; He died in January 1943; He had two sons: one of the sons died in January 1940 in connection with the scandal Kott, a second son in February 1940 was lost when passing the border of the Soviet-German at Belzec.
  • Regina Neumark - Activist; Collaborator of the CKI (Central Commission for Entertainments)
    • [source] "Finally, more resourceful musicians, supported by the Head of the Community, Adam Czerniaków, and his wife Dr Felicja Czerniaków, and Central Commission for Entertainments operating in the ghetto, decided to found the Jewish Symphonic Orchestra (ŻOS). It also had a moral aspect: it kept appearances of "normality”, met the spiritual needs of a vast number of music lovers, gave musicians a chance not only to get minimal resources, but also to remain in good musical condition. Many historians believe that the cultural activity was one of the forms of civil resistance, an activity in the teeth of the extermination actions of the occupier. It is, however, worth mentioning that from mid 1942 the people in ghettos had no idea of the planned extermination in the death camps (apparently they were being transferred to "work camps”) and they still had faith in the intervention of the allies and quick ending of the war."
    • The CKI set up concerts. The entry for Najmarkowa indicates she organized concerts. It's possible these are the same individuals. With the database information coming from multiple sources of testimony lots of redundancy is likely.
  • Wera Neumark - Artists/Writers; A pianist, plays in a concert in 'Gospoda' on 18 March 1942 - represents the old piano school.
Some activists; Some Judenrat. (Some Judenrat-connected activists) The Judenrat (or Jewish council) was set up by the Germans to administer the ghettos.
On the one hand, many viewed these councils as a form of collaboration with the enemy. Others saw these councils as a necessary evil, which would permit Jewish leadership a forum to negotiate for better treatment. In the many cases where Jewish leaders refused to volunteer to serve on the Judenrat, the Germans appointed Jews to serve on a random basis. Some Jews who had no prior history of leadership agreed to serve, hoping that it would improve their chances of survival. Many who served in the Judenrat were arrested, taken to labor camps, or hanged. 
This timeline provides some details on the events mentioned above.

January 1940 ["Kott Affair"]
1 - a decree comes into force forbidding Jews to change their place of residence without special permission.
14-25 - after the arrest of Andrzej Kott (who was of Jewish origin) belonging to the underground group PLAN and his escape from the gestapo, particular repressive measures are taken against the Jewish intelligentsia in Warsaw (255 Jews arrested). 
July 1942 ["First Action"]
22 - the beginning of the great deportation action in the Warsaw ghetto; transports leave from the Umschlagplatz for the gas chambers of Treblinka.
January 1943 ["January Action"]
9  - Himmler arrived for an inspection of the Warsaw ghetto; he ordered the deportation of 8,000 Jews and the evacuation of German enterprises to the Lublin area.
18-21  - the second deportation action in the Warsaw ghetto. The first armed resistance. The Germans deported c. 5,000 people. In January, just after the second deportation action, Józef Szeryński, the commander of the Jewish police, committed suicide.
More on the Kott Affair. [The Holocaust: A History of the Jews of Europe During the Second World War, Martin Gilbert, Macmillan, 1987.]

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