MILA 18 by Leon Uris is a book every American should read.
It takes place in Warsaw, Poland during World War II and follows Jewish Poles fighting for their lives in Nazi-occupied Poland. The novel tells the story of the Holocaust from the eyes of the Jewish resistance in the Warsaw Ghetto, who stood up for what they believed in, despite immeasurable odds.
As America acknowledges Holocaust Remembrance Day, nearly 70 years after the horrors of the Holocaust, it appears that few people even recognize this atrocity today. After the wake of the second World War and the Nuremberg trials, Americans taught each rising generation to never forget, but that education has slowly been forgotten over the years.
According to a study conducted by the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany, 66% of American millennials surveyed cannot identify Auschwitz, the largest and most infamous concentration camp where over 1.1 million people died as a result of starvation, forced labor, torture, and the gas chambers. Astonishingly, 22% of millennials haven’t heard of the Holocaust at all.
• 66% of millennials (age 18-34) don’t know what Auschwitz was. (compared to 41% of all U.S. adults)
• 22% of millennials haven’t heard of the Holocaust or “aren’t sure” what it was. (11% of all U.S. adults say the same)https://t.co/L2ME01JDfW
— Frank Luntz (@FrankLuntz) April 12, 2018
The novel written in 1961 is a masterpiece in conveying the horrors of the Holocaust and the courage of those who fought back in “one of the most heroic struggles of modern times.” As a letter written by the character, Christopher De Monti, a journalist, states, “I look through the books of history and I try to find a parallel. Not at the Alamo, not at Thermopylae did two more unequal forces square off in combat.”
Occupied by Nazi Germany in less than a month, Poland became the center of Hitler’s “Final Solution.” The ultimate goal? The complete annihilation of the Jewish people.
Jews were removed from their homes, stripped of possessions, and relegated to ghettos surrounded by 10ft brick walls, barbed wire, and armed guards. They were harassed, raped, beaten, and starved. Some were forced into forced labor working to support the very people trying to eradicate them. Each Jew was forced to wear an armband with the Star of David as an identifying marker.
At maximum capacity, the Warsaw Ghetto reached over 400,000 Jews forced to live in an area of just 1.3 square miles.
In 1942, the German SS began to carry out mass deportations from the Ghetto to the Treblinka killing center, a site similar Auschwitz. The Nazis deported over 265,000 Jews for executions in gas chambers, and killed over 35,000 during the deportation process.
The novel follows the lives of prominent members of the Jewish self-help society within the Ghetto who used their operation to aid those in need and also risked all to form an underground resistance.
After only 70,000 Jews remained in the Warsaw Ghetto, the Jewish resistance rose up using small arms smuggled into the ghetto, homemade weapons, and their fists against the Nazi’s seeking to carry out the final deportations.
“The rabble army without a decent weapon held at bay the mightiest military power the world has ever known for forty-two days and forty-two nights! It does not seem possible, for many nations fell beneath the German onslaught in hours. All of Poland was able to hold for less than a month.” – Christopher De Monti, a journal entry, MILA 18
In 1945, Warsaw, Poland was liberated. Only 11,500 of the survivors remaining were Jews, just 3% of the Jewish pre-war population.
In a last stand against tyranny, the Jews of the Warsaw Ghetto made a stand, fighting Nazi Wehrmacht tanks with homemade weapons and fists. A story of crisis, tragedy, blazing passion and courage, MILA 18 is a must read to ensure that our generation and generations hereafter do not forget the lessons of the Holocaust.
To remember the victims is to obtain the knowledge of the Holocaust, and to pledge “Never Again” requires one to be educated about the crimes of the past.
The views expressed in this article are the opinion of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Lone Conservative staff.