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The Fall of a SparrowThe Life and Times of Abba Kovner$
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Dina Porat

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780804762489

Published to Stanford Scholarship Online: June 2013

DOI: 10.11126/stanford/9780804762489.001.0001

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The Manifesto of January 1, 1942

The Manifesto of January 1, 1942

“The rebellion began with the manifesto” September 1941–January 1942

(p.57) Five The Manifesto of January 1, 1942
The Fall of a Sparrow
Stanford University Press

This chapter describes the mass murder of Jews in Vilna, which prompted Kovner to write a manifesto entitled “Let us not go like lambs to the slaughter!,” and which had two main tenets: First, that Hitler was plotting to massacre all the Jews in Europe; and second, that the Jews in Lithuania were the first in line. It was the first time that anyone in occupied Europe had hypothesized in writing that events were not local and performed for a specific reason but rather as the manifestation of a centralized, complete program contrived by the Germans' highest echelons, directed against all of European Jewry. The second principle was the conclusion drawn from such a perception—namely, that there could be only one genuine response: to defend themselves and choose death “as free fighters.” Kovner called on all Jewish youth, and on Lithuanian Jewry, not to let themselves be massacred like lambs. The manifesto was handwritten first in Yiddish and then translated by Kovner into Hebrew, then into Polish and Lithuanian, in versions that would be suitable for non-Jewish underground organizations.

Keywords:   Abba Kovner, ghettos, Jews, mass murder, Hitler, manifesto

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