No less than firing a gun

On April 21, 1951, the Knesset set 27 Nisan as Holocaust Remembrance Day. The state chose the anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, the most famous example of armed Jewish resistance against the Nazis, to remember those murdered in the Holocaust.

The Warsaw Ghetto Uprising was a refutation of the shameful claim, so antithetical to Zionist thought, that Jews had been led “like sheep to the slaughter.” Mordechai Anielewicz, the Hashomer Hatza’ir leader who had commanded the revolt, and those who fought with him had protected the honor of Israel by fighting like men. The Warsaw Ghetto Uprising fit nicely with the Zionist ethos of military empowerment that rejected nearly two millennia of Diaspora Jewry’s physical powerlessness against its many enemies.