Ronald Reagan Writes About How Jews from the Warsaw Ghetto Joined the Polish Uprising Against the Nazis

Add to History Board Share Print
Back to The Collection
Manuscript
See full images and transcript
Ronald Reagan Writes About How Jews from the Warsaw Ghetto Joined the Polish Uprising Against the Nazis
Autograph Letter Signed
3 pages | SMC 150

Quick Reference

      Background

      History is an exacting discipline, and even the most eminent historical figures, in relating it, can sometimes make mistakes. Here Ronald Reagan, in telling of a little-known but extraordinary aspect of the Warsaw Uprising, gets his facts wrong but the point right: Jews from the Warsaw Ghetto rose up with the Polish Home Army to fight the Nazis. But Reagan says the “freedom fighters… were largely from the Jewish ghetto” and this attribution is wrong. The “Armia Krajowa,” which fought the Germans in 1944, was comprised of about 40,000 Polish irregulars led by a handful of professional soldiers and supported by children, civilians and the 350 or so Jews it freed from Warsaw’s Gesiowka Concentration Camp. That 1/1000th of the Polish Jews who remained alive, from the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising in 1943 to the Warsaw Uprising in 1944, were joined by a few dozen Jews who had survived the destruction of the Ghetto by living in the sewers and, perhaps, by some four or five hundred others who had somehow managed to stay hidden in Warsaw. If there were, as some estimate, 1,000 Jews with the Polish freedom fighters in ’44, most of them died in the Warsaw Uprising, which claimed 200,000 lives and left 80% of the city in ruins. 

      Where Reagan was correct was in noting that the “the Soviets stood back and didn't enter Warsaw until the Nazis had massacred the Polish freedom fighters…” - and that as much as anything, made him regard the Soviet Union as evil.


      Autograph Letter Signed ("RR"), 3 pages, large octavo, no place, no date (c. 1967-1989); to a Mr. Nelson, abroad. With a secretarial slash across the first page, indicating it had been typed and  signed (secretarially or by autopen) "Ronald Reagan."
      Read More

      all pages and transcript

      Page 1/3

      Page 1 transcript
      Dear Mr. Nelson

      I appreciate your writing me and giving me the opportunity to comment on your observations.  There is little chance that any words of mine can change your outlook anymore than your words changed mine. Never the less, I can't help pointing out what seems to me to be a glaring discrepancy in your assertion that our system is responsible for all evil while communism offers unadulterated benefits.

      In the first place, your reference to the Nazis omits the fact that theirs was a govt. of National socialism. You also forget ignore the part your country & mine played in destroying Nazism.  While it is true Russia played a part it was only after Hitler broke his the alliance in which the Soviet U. [Union] had willingly joined.  Can we also ignore the findings at the Nuremberg trials that the Soviets stood back and didn't enter Warsaw until the Nazis had massacred the Polish freedom fighters who were largely from the Jewish ghetto?

      But These are things you evidently consider of only secondary importance - along 

      Page 2/3

      Page 2 transcript
      with the Chinese Communist slaughter of 20 mil. Chinese farmers & business men.

      This however is not why I am answering your letter. The fact is you evidently missed the point of my speech. You speak approvingly of the American Revolution. It is that revolution I spoke of and the present danger that it is being lost. It was a revolution against a theory of govt. that which under the guise of taking care of the citizenry robbed them of individual freedom.

      We had a period when each man was free to rise or fall on his own ability & under that system we spread the wealth more widely among our people than in any system ever known to man. Today the continued growth of govt. erodes that freedom just as your own socialist govt. erodes yours.

      You would solve your problems by turning to a different form of govt. & one which has infinitely more power than your present govt.  Regardless of it's form, govt. will be administered by human beings & they will give orders to other human beings. The answer lies in restricting the power of govt., protecting humans from each other. We need less govt. not more. What I must not do govt. must not do. Whether you call it communism, socialism, 

      Page 3/3

      Page 3 transcript
      or just welfarism it becomes totalitarianism and there can be no freedom for the individual. In fact I wouldn't be able to express these thoughts to you.

      Sincerely,

      RR