In This Review

Isaac's Army: A Story of Courage and Survival in Nazi-Occupied Poland
Isaac's Army: A Story of Courage and Survival in Nazi-Occupied Poland
By Matthew Brzezinski
Random House, 2012, 496 pp.

This is a story of heroism nonpareil, a heart-stopping account of the roughly one thousand young Polish Jews who, during the 1940s, organized violent resistance against the German ravaging of the Warsaw ghetto, a walled-off area “roughly the size of New York City’s Central Park” into which the Nazis squeezed nearly all of Warsaw’s 400,000 Jews. The Isaac of the title is Isaac Zuckerman, the young Polish-Lithuanian Zionist who willed into existence the Jewish Fighting Organization (ZOB). Although little more than a small band of lightly armed conspirators, in April 1943, the ZOB trapped in fiery carnage the German SS units dispatched to carry out murderous deportations of the Jews. That assault and the supporting role the ZOB played in the 1944 Warsaw Uprising were the most dramatic moments of the five harrowing years the group spent fighting the Germans. Brzezinski narrates the group’s feats in pulsating detail by following every step of a half-dozen principal members. Zuckerman died in Israel in 1981, having successfully arranged the passage to Palestine of 115,000 Polish Jews in the late 1940s despite British immigration obstacles—with Stalin’s apparent assistance, ironically enough.