Wladyslaw Szlengel (1912 – 1943)

“..poems which you will enter ..my dears ..without armbands ..are a jungle in which you will not find it easy to find your way. Topics and props are alien and incomprehensible to you ..they require many comments. There are words and points ..whose depth and horrifying sadness can be understood only after ..preparation in ..form of a life behind ..wall and under ..whip of ..SS.” Wladyslaw Szlengel.

Wladyslaw Szlengel was a born Poet, sometime in 1912, as records have proved inadequate to be more specific, he was born to Parents Mala and Maurycy Szlengel in the Warsaw District of Wola. In 1930, a Graduate of the Merchants Association Trade School, he had his first poem Published, Cjankali. He commenced his Theatre training and throughout the 1930’s his poetry was being read everywhere, in articles, newspapers and in songs for all of the theatres he frequented. With Hitler’s Invasion of Poland, September 1st. 1939 Wladyslaw was a fighter, defending his Warsaw and once Polish defeat was assured he and his Wife left for Bialystok and then onto Lvov.

“..With heart rozbitem and choir ..With thoughts about that page Sat down tonight Speaking. ..And I think to myself ..I’ll call ..To someone on that side ..When I’m on duty ..In ..Evening. ..And suddenly I think ..on God ..I don’t actually have to whom In ..year of trzydziestym ninth ..I went another way. ..Our roads parted ..Friendship are in Toni ..And now ..well please ..I don’t have ..Even who to call. ” Wladyslaw Szlengel.

With Hitler’s further demands East, Hitler Invaded Russia on June 22nd. 1941, Wladyslaw returned to Warsaw by way of the Janow Camp, after he was incarcerated by the Germans. Freed, around January 1942, he managed to finally return to the Warsaw Ghetto, to their apartment at 14 Walicow Street. At this time he created the Living Diary and attracted the attention of Emanuel Ringelblum, himself assembling like minded spirits for the Onyeg Shabbes. With this Living Diary, Wladyslaw chronicled the ups and the many downs of Ghetto life, producing a newspaper which not only contained his songs, it contained a spirit of resistance.

“..And ..autumn evening behind ..glass ..And ..autumn evening is on ..road ..And I think ..I would like to call ..But I have no one to. Taking ..phone to hand ..Pathetic link ..I friend number ..He’s talking ..girl. ..Excuse me ..do you recognize me. ..I’m asking .voice ..September years ago ..Before I went to road ..my room at dawn ..I knew what was starting ..And for ..last time ..That it’s six o’clock. ..Now ..do you want to talk to me ..Because my throat stands tears ..Tell me something zegarynko ..ten ..Fifty ..three.” Wladyslaw Szlengel.

The paper was filled with interviews from other Performers, Writers and those who witnessed the life changing effects of the Ghetto as it was imposed. It was at such time that Wladyslaw came to also know Janusz Korczak of the Children’s Orphanage, a Home for the waifs and strays, the homeless and the destitute Jewish Children of the Warsaw Ghetto. His Poetry took on a newer meaning now as he was attracted to Emanuel Ringelblum’s efforts in establishing the Ghetto Archive. The songs, the poets of spirit in hope began to filter throughout the Ghetto as Wladyslaw became a component part of the Onyeg Shabbes Archivists.

“..How often I had to life ..With that voice of calm tie. ..Remember me ..zegarynko ..ten ..Fifty ..Six. ..Ten ..Fifty ..Six. ..You want ..we’ll mention ..In ..year ..I’m out of ..movies now. ..Ten ..Fifty Seven. ..Coming home zero ..With chmielna from Atlantic cinema ..With Gary Cooper. ..On ..corner of ..golden paperboy ..He was selling ..Kurjer Red ..On ..asphalt they are rolling like lights ..Colorful Neon.” Wladyslaw Szlengel.

Wladsylaw, who had been a member of the Jewish Police, up to the point of the First Great Action, the commencement of the liquidation of the Warsaw Ghetto, when reality finally assailed him. Jewish Warsaw, its population having swelled from 300,000 Jews in the 1930’s, was now bulging with in excess of 450,000 Jews, adding those from outlying districts to the hugely over crowded Ghetto area. Here, Adam Czerniakow as the Judenrate Chairman sought to refuse the Nazi’s their list making effort and he committed suicide on July 23rd. 1942 as Treblinka awaited 900,000 or 1,000,000 of Warsaw’s Jews, Europe’s Jews and Poland’s Jews.

“..No he he ..Into ..heart of a nice city ..Do you say something zegarynko .. Eleven. ..A new world will be born ..Still for a walk parks went ..He also invited cafe club. ..Eleven Three. ..In quick fresh sausages ..And kolacyjny piston ..And rushed from adria cab ..From The Speaker Sang Fogg. ..Back to firehouse trams ..And ..night started to drive ..Which was more or less. ..Eleven ..Forty ..Six.” Wladyslaw Szlengel.

Here, Wladyslaw took leave of his policing duties, witnessing the Death and Destruction of his Jewish Warsaw, with colleagues, friends and associates all being harassed, tagetted and killed at the whim of the Nazi forces. Wladyslaw was moved to 34 Swietojerska Street and began working in the brushmakers workshop and began his life renewed, though in hiding there and finally in the basement at 36 Swietojerska Street. Here, Wladyslaw Survived during the Jewish Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, which began on April 17th. 1943 and he was still alive until its last days.

“..How good to talk to you ..No dispute ..no different opinions. ..You are ..nicest ..zegarynko ..Of all ..friends of ..ladies. ..Already Lighter now ..heart will be ..When I know that when I call ..Someone will listen to me ..Though He’s on that side. ..That someone remembers all this ..That we shared fate ..And talk to me is not afraid ..And so calm has a voice. ..Already night fall pluszcze ..And wind over murkami gna ..We dream ..we dream ..Girl and I. ..Be healthy my far away ..There are hearts where nothing changes. ..In five twelfth you say ..You’re right ..so goodbye.” Wladyslaw Szlengel.

Tragically, and not fully 2 days before the crushing of the Jewish Uprising, which came to an end, on May 10h. 1943, together with his Wife, on May 8th. 1943, the Nazi’s came across their hidden bunker and no one emerged alive of the some 130 Jews in hiding there. The carnage of their Murder leaves no resting place for them, so we Remember them all as Jews of The Warsaw Ghetto Uprising. In the words of Wladyslaw Szlengel, both prophetic and deeply moving we recognise in:

Your Death and Our Death.

Your death and our death

are two different deaths.

Your death it’s a strong death,

tearing into shreds.

Your death in the midst of grey fields

fertile from blood and sweat.

Your death is death from bullets

for something for the Homeland.

Our death it’s a silly death,

in an attic or a cellar,

our death is a dog’s death

from around the street corner.

Your death will be marked with a cross,

it is being reported,

our death warehouse pile,

they will bury goodbye.” Wladyslaw Szlengel.

Wladyslaw Szlengel