Szmul Zygielbojm’s farewell letter, May 11, 1943

Szmul Zygielbojm1943

Polish History Museum

Polish History Museum
Warszawa, Poland

Szmul Zygielbojm, a member of the National Council of the Polish Government-in-Exile, took his life in London. He left a letter that he decided to die as a protest against the passivity of the Allies towards the fate of the Jews, hoping that his death would save some lives of the remaining Jews.


  • Title: Szmul Zygielbojm’s farewell letter, May 11, 1943
  • Creator: Szmul Zygielbojm
  • Date: 1943, 1943
  • Location: London, Great Britain
  • Transcript:
    Szmul M. Zygielbojm Member of the National Council of the Republic of Poland. 12 Porchester Square, London, W.2. 11th May 1943. To the President of the Republic of Poland Władysław Raczkiewicz To the Prime Minister General Władysław Sikorski I take the liberty of addressing to you my last words, and through you, to the Polish Government and people, to the Governments and peoples of the Allied States, to the conscience of the world. From the latest information received from Poland, it is evident without doubt that the German, with full ruthless cruelty, are now murdering the few remaining Jews in Poland. Behind the walls of the ghettos the last act of a tragedy unprecedented in history is being performed. The responsibility for the crime of murdering all Jewish population in Poland falls, in the first instance, on the perpetrators, but indirectly, also weighs on the whole of humanity, the peoples and Governments of the Allied States, which, so far, have made no effort towards a concrete action for the purpose of curtailing this crime. By the passive observation of this murder of defenseless millions and maltreated children, women and men, these countries have become accomplices of the criminals. I have also to state that although the Polish Government has in a high degree contributed to the stirring of the opinion of the world, yet insufficiently, it did not do anything so extraordinary that would correspond to the magnitude of the damn now being enacted in Poland. From nearly 3 and a half million Polish Jews and about 700,000 Jews deported to Poland from other countries, there still lived in April of this year – according to official information of the Head of the Underground Bund Organization, sent to us through the Delegate of the Government – about 300,00. And the murder is still going on incessantly. I cannot be silent and I cannot live while the remnants of the Jewish people in Poland, of whom I am the representative, are perishing. My comrades in the Warsaw ghetto perished with weapons in their hand in their last heroic impulse. It was not my destiny to perish as they did, together with them, but I belong to them and to their mass graves. By my death I wish to express my strongest protest against the inactivity with which the world is looking on and permitting the extermination of the Jewish people. I know how little human life is worth, especially today. But as I was unable to do anything during my life, perhaps by my death I shall contribute to the breaking of the indifference of those who are able and should act in order to save now, maybe in the last moment, this handful of Polish Jews, who are still alive, from certain annihilation.
    Hide TranscriptShow Transcript
  • Contributor: Hoover Institution Archives | Register of the Jan Karski Papers | box 13 folder 2
  • Original Source: Hoover Institution Archives, Hoover Institution Archives
  • Collection: Jan Karski

Additional Items

Get the app

Explore museums and play with Art Transfer, Pocket Galleries, Art Selfie, and more

Flash this QR Code to get the app
Google apps