Page 223 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 46

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KESSNER / ON BEHALF OF THE JEWISH PEOPLE
2 1 5
so that the truth had to be acknowledged. This November issue
appeared with black borders and Marie wrote in the editorial:
In the occupied countries o f Europe a policy is now being
put into effect whose avowed object is the extermination o f a
whole people. It is a policy o f systematic murder o f innocent
civilians which in its ferocity, its dimensions and its organization
is unique in the history o f m a n k in d . . . .13
Marie Syrkin’s editorial was the first American report o f the
systematic annihilation that was already in progress. But, as the
historian Walter Laqueur has pointed out, even in 1943 the
Frontiers
“was an isolated voice in this time.” 14
ACT IV IST ROLE
During these bitter years Marie continued her wide-ranging
activities on behalf o f the Jewish people in a stream o f editorials
and articles pressing for the opening o f the gates o f Palestine,
demanding liberalization o f immigration quotas, finding havens
for refugees. She even wrote a speech for Chaim Weizmann
to deliver at a Madison Square Garden rally.
Remarkably, during these pressing years, Marie — who con­
tinued in her regular job at the high school — found time to
write a widely acclaimed book, a vanguard analysis o f the Amer­
ican public school system,
Your School, Your Children.15
The book
was to play a substantial role in the coming focus on American
educational reform.
In 1945, when the war in Europe scarcely was over Marie
went once more to Palestine, sailing on the first ship to leave
the United States for the Middle East. This time her purpose
was to gather material for another o f her “ firsts” — a book
on Jewish resistance. The touchy issue o f Jewish passivity had
already surfaced, and since Palestine was the gathering place
for surviving partisans and ghetto fighters, for the participants
in illegal immigration and for the surviving courageous para­
chutists who had been dropped behind the Nazi lines in Europe
to organize resistance, Marie went there at the first opportunity
to interview those who were eye-witnesses. The result was her
13. Ibid., p. 7.
14. Walter Laqueur,
The Terrible Secret,
N ew York, 1980.
15. Marie Syrkin,
Your School, Your Children,
New York, 1944.