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December 13, 2012 - Image 70

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2012-12-13

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obituaries

Obituaries from page 68

Warsaw Ghetto Hero

Ynet News

V

ladka Meed, 90, a weapons
smuggler and courier during the
Warsaw Ghetto uprising, who
published a book about the struggle, died
Nov. 21 at her daughter's home in Arizona,
the Washington Post reports.
According to her son, the cause of death
was Alzheimer's disease.
Meed posed as a Polish gentile woman
during World War II, smuggling weapons
and documents into the ghetto and finding
hiding places for children from the ghetto
on the outside.
"To remain a human being in the ghetto,
one had to live in constant defiance, to act
illegally:' Meed told the Forward in 1995.
"We had illegal synagogues, illegal classes,
illegal meetings and illegal publications"
Meed was born Feigel Peltel in Warsaw
in December 1921. Her father died of
pneumonia in the ghetto, and her mother
and two siblings perished at the Treblinka
death camp.
She joined the Jewish Fighting
Organization, using the code name Vladka
— a name she kept for the rest of her life.

As the war continued, she immediately
reporter, "We didn't have any possibility
chose armed resistance. Using forged iden- the outside world is going to come and lib-
tification papers and with her Aryan looks erate us. So it was doomed from the begin-
and fluency in Polish, she lived for extend- ning ... We didn't want to die. No. But we
ed periods amid the ethnic Polish popula-
said, 'This is the way to act. This we have
tion and worked on both sides
to do."'
of the ghetto walls to obtain
Her son, Steven Meed, said
weapons and ammunition
"quiet resistance" was what
on the black market and find
his mother most profoundly
hiding places for children and
taught him, namely how to
adults.
"maintain your dignity, edu-
She also acted as a courier
cate your children and con-
for the Jewish underground,
tribute to society — doing
hiding documents in her shoe.
all those things that made
In an interview to the
you a person in the face of
Washington Post in 1973,
Meed said it was horrify-
"We were trying to live
Vladka Me ed
ing to discover the apathy of
through the war, the hard
most Poles to the fate of the Jews. "I lived
times, in the ways which were known to
among them for a quite a while as a Pole.
us before the war:' she told the Forward.
Most of them were indifferent. Quite a
"Nobody imagined any gas chambers.
large number of them were openly anti-
Jewish resistance took different forms
Semitic and even, in a way, having satis-
and shapes under Nazi occupation. Our
faction" with the ghetto extermination.
defiance of the Germans, who wanted to
The uprising was launched on April 19,
dehumanize us, expressed itself in varied
1943. It lasted 27 days until the ghetto was
ways."
completely annihilated.
Meed survived and remained in Poland
In 1993, Meed told a Knight-Ridder
until it was liberated by the Russians. In

1945, she married Benjamin Miedzyrzeck,
another resistance member. A year later,
they immigrated to the United States with
$8 between them. They officially changed
their names to Benjamin and Vladka Meed
in the 1950s.
According to the Washington Post,
Meed's husband started an import-
export business and served on a board
that helped establish the U.S. Holocaust
Memorial Museum in Washington.
They had two children and five grand-
children. Benjamin Meed died in 2006 at
the age 88.
While her husband often played a more
public role in Holocaust remembrance,
Vladka Meed achieved a strong legacy
through the force of her writing and lec-
turing for six decades.
She became a vice president of the
Jewish Labor Committee and in 1984
started a national teacher-training pro-
gram on the Holocaust that highlighted
the role of the Warsaw resistance.
In a book she wrote in 1948, On Both
Sides of the Wall, she provided an eyewit-
ness account of the Warsaw ghetto and
uprising.



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