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The Flame Foundation. Click above for more photos. The Flame Foundation's Mission. The Flame Foundation's History. Inmates rushed to climb, cut, or collapse the barbed wire fence many died tangled there and flee across the heavily-mined field towards the forest. Those who survived this mad dash did so only because a path had been cleared of mines by those who ran before them.

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Upon reaching the forest, the rebels faced a host of other challenges including starvation and being ratted out by local farmers. Jewish partisan groups represented an ideal opportunity to continue the battle against the Nazis, while those who stumbled into the midst of Polish partisan groups report being robbed and shot at.

Of the roughly inmates in the camp on the day of the revolt, about tried to escape; those who remained in the camp were killed in the days after. Of those who attempted to escape, were killed by gunfire or landmines. Within ten days, an additional had been recaptured and killed. Of the remaining one hundred at large, another twenty three were killed by non-Germans before the war ended, and several others died of illness. The fiery glow that poured forth over Treblinka that night had a different color, a different origin, and a different interpretation than the one of all previous nights.

A similar insurrection was launched by the workers of Treblinka, another extermination camp located only several hours north of Sobibor on the Eastern edge of Poland. A gruesome glimpse of life inside this camp is offered by the memoir of Chil Raichman, who spent nearly a year as a worker in Treblinka before participating in the revolt. His first job in the camp is as a barber, chopping the hair off of naked women before they are packed like sardines into the gas chamber; throughout his frenzied workdays he is unable to respond to their desperate questions as he is constantly under the supervision of a whip that cracks his spine if he speaks or takes more than five snips to finish a job.

He is then assigned work as a dentist, prying open the mouth of each corpse to extract any valuable metals, filling suitcase after suitcase with human teeth. On the morning of August 2, , the workers in Treblinka prepared themselves: those who worked in the SS huts were rummaging through belongings looking for weapons and smuggling them back to the garage under cover of a garbage collection.

Jacek, another fourteen year old rebel, used the prized key to slip into the armory where he quietly cut a hole in the rear window and began passing weapons out to be added to the garbage collection. On the other side of the camp, a worker tasked with cleaning buildings secretly replaced his disinfectant with gasoline. Similar to each of the other camp uprisings, the plan in Treblinka was initiated prematurely, meaning that not everyone had received weapons, nor had the telephone lines been cut. After a signal shot was fired, grenades and bullets began hailing down onto the unsuspecting guards, while Molotov cocktails engulfed the barracks in flames and prisoners rushed the fence.

Lifting Up Other Voices

Estimates of the number of escapees range from to , while the death toll of SS and Ukrainian guards ranges from zero to In the end, 52 of the rebels lived to see the end of the war and tell the world about Treblinka. An informal anarchist organization flows like water and takes new forms according to the action it wants to carry out. Because of the unique conditions of the extermination camps, long-term, formal organizations were an impossibility.

What arose instead were informal conspiracies of inmates that had one shared ambition: insurrection. What they accomplished was nothing short of miraculous: the two most successful uprisings to occur in Nazi camps and the liberation of some of the only eye witnesses to the horrors of extermination camps. The CCF emerged in from a minority incendiary tendency in Greece: anarchists who were interested in autonomously attacking symbols of power but were dissatisfied with the lack of strategy, coherence, development, and perspectives that this level of improvisation and disorganization offered.

In one of their later communiques, the CCF reflects on this process in their own formation:. However, words acquire the meanings given by the people who use them.

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As the Conspiracy of Cells of Fire, we stormed into battle over the meaning of revolutionary anarchist organization. To combat a lack of momentum and visibility in their tactics, they took a new approach to organization and began launching attacks under the banner of the CCF, a network of informally organized cells that could conspire together and act with complete autonomy.

From the beginning, the CCF placed a high priority on communiques as a way to collectively develop ideas and maintain momentum. Their initial wave of attacks on January 21, involved twelve bombings and arsons targeted against banks, car dealerships, and a state-run power company. Once again, communiques from each of these actions have served as a central medium for the exchange and development of ideas within the nihilist tendency. One of the aspects of anarcho-nihilism that makes this kind of informal organizing possible is the tactical freedom afforded by its rejection of all inherited programs, moralities, and expectations.

It urges us to take ethical decisions into our own hands rather than appealing to any socially governed notions of right and wrong, thus opening up an infinite spectrum of tactical thinking that can more meaningfully interact with the particularities of our unique context. The groups that emerged in Treblinka and Sobibor were able to act with the sort of fluidity and tactical freedom that the Sonderkommando nearly surrendered in the presence of a formal, communist organization.

Like the members of the FAI or the ITS, their unity as a group came solely from their joint willingness to attack the existing order. Though there is a great deal of nuance and complexity that should not be overlooked, the fact remains that the two most successful uprisings to occur in Nazi concentration camps happened in two of the only camps without formal organizations.

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This in itself should challenge anarchists and other radicals to deeply question the pragmatic function of organizations in our lives. While formal and sustained organizational methods can be useful for certain goals, we should remember that they are often structurally incapable of working towards moments of complete rupture. What they offer in terms of resources, visibility, and longevity, must be measured against the hurdles they often create between people and their insurrectionary desires. That being said, while the informal organizational methods being experimented with by nihilists are exciting and have clearly facilitated a great deal of incendiary action, they also carry with them inevitable shortcomings and pitfalls, not least of which is the sort of solipsism that results in a Greenpeace office getting bombed.

And though informal organizational models may be able to mitigate the problem of collective responsibility, they will never be able to fully solve the problem. Ultimately somebody along the line is going to have to make shady ethical choices, regardless of organizational model. Thus, while I think that stories of concentration camp uprisings can help us to develop a healthy wariness around the role of organizations, we must also stay vigilant to nuance. There are no easy answers to these questions. Without dismissing or attacking every formal organization we encounter, we can continue to experiment with non-hierarchical organizational forms that might facilitate, rather than defer, moments of liberatory rupture.

The Machine has fabricated a landscape in which even at the depths of suffering it is less unpleasant to choose among the officially proffered options than to resist, to transgress, to fight back, to step out of line. The lessons of the Holocaust were well learned. We will walk through the very last door as long as it is the easiest of a well managed set of choices.

In her book Cruel Optimism , Lauren Berlant dissects some of the reasons that human beings cling so tenaciously to hopeful ideas. Underneath of a cruel optimism is an existential abyss, and yet severing ourselves from it poses the only real possibility for growth. What cruel optimisms might we be clinging to in our current situations? Anarchism is fundamentally posed to challenge many cruel optimisms held by society, and anarchism is in turn having its own cruel optimisms challenged by nihilism. Nihilism is the incredulous voice whispering impossible questions: Are we toxically attached to the idea that we can build a new world in the shell of the old, despite overwhelming evidence that points towards the impossibility of that happening?

Are we stuck in a model of time that binds us to the reproduction of society and endlessly defers incendiary action? Have we inherited a set of stagnant revolutionary models that serve only to limit the full spectrum of tactics available to us and to manage the rebellious desires that course through our bodies?

Is all of our resistance predicated on the fantasy that we can actually bring an end to global capitalism? For those in the Lagers, the dissolution of cruel optimisms was the most crucial step towards resistance. Groups like the CCF and the FAI ask us to accept the possibility that the majority of human beings on this planet will never be motivated to resist oppression. The zine Desert [] asks us to accept that global climate change is unstoppable, and that, despite our best efforts, it will not result in the end of capitalism, patriarchy, or civilization as a whole.

The authors of Attentat confront the grotesque possibility that meaningful social change is actually impossible in the current landscape, and that action is not even necessarily justified:. Anything less complex than the spectacular, cybernetic, late capitalism of this world is hopelessly naive and simplistic. It would necessitate untold violence and brutality. It would tear asunder the illusions of two hundred years of humanistic, rights-based social organization These are all grotesque ideas in that they force us to confront a situation without hope.

The problem for many of us is that these ideas happen to resonate on a very deep level. Though we are certainly not obliged to accept every nihilist position that comes out of the woodwork many of which are overly simplistic and loaded with brawny machismo , some of them are just impossible to ignore. Nihilism does not demand our allegiance, because it is not a political ideology. I am more inclined to look at it as a tendency in the true sense of the word, and to embrace it as a fluid presence in our lives that constantly asks us to negate our own ideologies, certainties, and optimistic attachments.

I find any form of nihilism that gets used as an excuse not to dream, not to act, and not to engage earnestly with other people to be dull — I am interested in a nihilism that ravenously digs below the surface of commonly accepted ideas, and that can help us to ground our resistance in something more meaningful than tired slogans and listless strategies.

I am interested in a nihilism that helps us to reorient our lives away from cruel optimisms and towards jouissance. To remember the struggle in the present is to glimpse which road we have walked upon, to help understand where to place our next steps — this is to use insurrectionary memory to replant ourselves tactically and strategically in combat against the oppressive reality. Nearly every page of memoir brings with it a new layer of hellish imagery, trauma, and misanthropic insight. I felt called to these stories for a number of personal reasons, and was motivated to keep reading when I started to glimpse the ways that they might be interesting to other anarchists.

My experience of these stories became even richer when I started to realize that one of the most widespread and crushing fears for those who entered the camps was of not having their stories heard, of being forgotten by history. Primo Levi observed that the most commonly reported nightmare in the Lagers was not one of death or torture, but the alienation of clogged mouths and muted words. In remembering these voices, we also have the opportunity to carry on past struggles and to turn the stories of those who came before us into fodder against our oppressors.

As we all know, history is written by the victors, and so the narratives of Progress and Great Men offered to us by society generally serve only to reinforce power. History does not need to be neutral, but rather can fly in the face of domination and help to sharpen and expand our conflicts against the powerful.

It is worth noting here that not all history speaks loudly enough for us to easily hear it. How many stories of concentration camp resistance have been lost? Because of the sheer brutality of the Nazi regime and the conditions of isolation in which much of this history unfolded, it is safe to assume that most acts of resistance were captured only in the fleeting wisps of gun smoke that silenced fast-beating, recalcitrant hearts.

In so many ways, our willingness to attend to the silences of history may determine our ability to understand this world and how we got to where we are. The active nihilist sees in the unknown future and despair at our current situation, a call to arms. Meaning is found in approaching the void rather than in the false knowledge of what is on the other side of it. We are nihilists regardless of whether we call ourselves by the name, because we have no road out of this.

We have only the starlit wilderness The first act of navigation is to set foot in the wilderness. Only then can we put our hands against the bare earth, feeling for the dim warmth of those fires still smoldering beneath. With every rebellious footstep we take, we are entering an unknowable void. There are no reliable maps of the terrain that our struggles will occupy. No one has a leg up on the question of liberation.

Despite what anyone tells us, there is no guarantee that the workers of the world are going to rise up, nor any assurances that such a thing would even lead to a desirable situation. Though we have inherited a great many ideas about how to confront domination, we know that nothing is set in stone. From the shattered tools and bones of our predecessors, we craft our own weapons. Nothing is guaranteed to work, yet we attack regardless. We do so naked, having shed the rags of morality, ideology, and politics that had accumulated over time. We confront this world raw, in all its horrifying glory.

We negate every truth and rule and we proceed with a spirit of incendiary experimentation. We dream big, expect little, and celebrate every moment of rupture. We take every opportunity to ensure that those in power lose sleep and that their functionaries have miserable jobs.

Greens: German prisoners in the concentration camps, often given functionary positions with the camp e. Capo, Senior Camp Inmate, etc. Reds: Political prisoners in the concentration camps, named for the red badges they were made to wear. Reproductive Futurity: The belief that the existing order is the safest future for children in the abstract, and that sacrifices are to be made in the name of this abstract Child. SS: Schutzstaffel, a paramilitary organization under Adolf Hitler that was responsible for running the concentration camps.

Sonderkommando: A work detail of mostly Jewish camp inmates tasked with operating the gas chambers, crematorium, and other processes of extermination in the camps. The nihilist themes of negation, time, and organization could have happily been joined by conversations about identity abolishment, queerness, domestication, and more.

Stories of Haftlinge who lashed back against the camp systems could have been elaborated by countless stories of escape, mutual aid, and nonviolent civil disobedience, all of which played a part in the broader story of resistance in the Lagers. There are many questions and topics that still remain unexplored for me. Primo Levi remembers how disturbing it was to work next to female prisoners who had lost all outwards demarcations of femininity, and also how demoralizing and shameful it was for him to be put to work in a German laboratory where he, in his genderless state, was forced to work alongside outwardly presenting German women.

The topic of Nazis and ecological destruction is also one that I feel intrigued by. The Nazis, and particularly Himmler, had an obsession with rendering wild spaces into agricultural utopias, which meant that many camp inmates were put to work doing broadscale landscape architecture. Auschwitz itself was right at the junction of two major rivers, a well-known flood plain that required an enormous amount of destructive landscaping to make hospitable for the camp.

If anyone knows of any memoirs or books that reference specific anarchist Haftlinge, I would greatly appreciate the heads up. October Zine 9. Retrieved online from Anarchist Federation In Italy. Issue Retrieved online from theanarchistlibrary. Uncontrollable: Contributions Towards a Conscious Nihilism. May 1. Retrieved online from bayofrage. Arendt, Hannah. Penguin Books, New York. Bialowitz, Philip, with Joseph Bialowitz. A Promise at Sobibor. University of Wisconsin Press, Madison. Churchill, Ward. Indians Are Us? Between The Lines, Toronto. Communization: The Senile Decay of Anarchy.

Untorelli Press, 5. A Conversation Between Anarchists. Untorelli Press, Dark Nights. Dark Mountain. Fall Issue 2. De Acosta, Alejandro. Its Core is the Negation. Spring Online Database of Protocols Oral Testimonies. Donat, Alexander. Jewish Resistance. Dunn-Wasowicz, Krzysztof.

Resistance in the Nazi Concentration Camps — Polish Scientific Publishers, Warsaw. Garlinski, Jozef. Glass, James M. Palgrave, New York. Gurewitsch, Brana. University of Alabama Press, Tuscaloosa and London. Individualists Tending Toward The Wild. Informal Anarchist Federation. Informal Anarchist Federation Olga Cell. May Jan van Pelt, Robert. Patrick Henry.

Langbein, Hermann. Translated by Harry Zohn. Paragon House, New York.

Meers, Hilda. Country Books, Derbyshire. Monsieur Dupont. Pilecki, Captain Witold. The Auschwitz Volunteer: Beyond Bravery. Aquila Publishing, Los Angeles. Price, Wayne. Spring Issue Saidel, Rochelle G. The Invisible Committee. To Our Friends. Translated by Robert Hurley. Semiotext e , 20i4:California. Venona Q. Anarchy: Civil or Subversive? Zlodey, Lev, and Jason Radegas. Little Black Cart Books, Thanks to my parents for your support, my mom for being such a solid research assistant, and to Amber for helping me find space in my life to pursue this subject.

Big ups to Semo Distro for keeping me immersed in rad literature, and to The Armando Del Moro Library for your patience with my overdue books. This book is dedicated to my grandmother, whose tenacity and strength brought me into this world, and who continues to inspire me daily. And to all those living recalcitrant lives. And to K, for punching a Nazi in the face while I was busy writing this.

The occasional use of superlatives throughout this text, as well as my exclusive focus on the Nazi holocaust, is not meant to exceptionalize this particular history above any other experiences of suffering or genocide. Here Goldstein is describing the endless stream of corpses leaving the Warsaw Ghetto. Some believe that nihilism is a strain of anarchism Aragorn! Other common features were a heavy walking-stick and a rug flung over the shoulders in cold weather; they called it a plaid, but it was not necessarily a tartan.

I as a Holocaust survivor cannot live with the fact that the State of Israel is imprisoning an entire people behind fences. This interaction occurred when Levi, parched and starving, reached his hand out of a transport train to grab an icicle that might assuage his thirst. A guard ran over to knock the icicle out of his hand for no explicable reason. The missing prisoner was Tadeusz Wiejowski, who had escaped from the then-primitive walls of Auschwitz, but was rearrested the following year and shot.

In December , due to the overwhelming need for workers, the policy of collective responsibility was eased and resistance groups began to organize escapes Garlinski Often those who escaped from the camps joined the partisans. When word of this tactic caught on, the Political Department instituted a new policy that all lethal injections be cleared with them, so as to prevent assassination of their precious informants. In Sachsenhausen, for instance, one particularly insidious informant named Kuhnke was tactically disempowered by the resistance group, who were able to exploit disagreements among the SS in such a way that Kuhnke was removed from his position and beaten severely, ending the terrible period of the special commission in that camp.

I 12— I 66,43,44, I 44,73, Problematic to be sure, and disturbing beyond belief. I Though no concrete links can be drawn between the broadcast and the change of plan, many historians have deduced that it played at least some role in the decision. At around the time the revolt was being planned, the SS did in fact begin the process of liquidating the Sonderkommando by announcing that two hundred of them would be transferred to a sub-camp. These two hundred were loaded onto a wagon with food for the journey, and then taken directly to a gas chamber nearby.

Attempting to hide this slaughter from the rest of the Sonderkommando, the SS men took the bodies to the crematoria at night and for the first time in the history of Auschwitz burned the bodies themselves Langbein In Langbein Renzo Novatore During this week he led his fellow POWs in a sing-along of a popular Russian resistance song, poured his ration of soup onto the ground to display his horror at watching the callous beating of the cook during its preparation, miraculously chopped through a tree in less than two minutes as part of a life-or-death challenge from a Ukrainian guard, and then refused the pack of cigarettes the guard offered him as a prize.

Any one of these defiant acts was of course grounds for execution in the camp Rashke —4. The murderers look around. To add to the insanity of Treblinka, the camp even housed a zoo where wild bears and foxes from the surrounding forests were caged for the entertainment of the guards. Langbein I have just learned that RS has declared itself morte as of August 5, and has divided into several smaller informal organizations, some anonymous, others of which will make their names known soon.

Toggle navigation. Close Table of Contents. Title: Blessed is the Flame. Subtitle: An introduction to concentration camp resistance and anarcho-nihilism. Author: Serafinski. Date: Notes: Taken from the original book : Running heads, body and italics set in Sabon, an old-style typeface designed by German typographer, suspected-communist and concentration camp survivor Jan Tschichold.

Burning Treblinka perimeter during the prisoner uprising, in August This clandestine photograph was taken by Franciszck Znbecki. Pistols Drawn Contact for the author : undertow A riseup.

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View history Edit this text Add this text to the bookbuilder Select individual parts for the bookbuilder. Serafinski Blessed is the Flame An introduction to concentration camp resistance and anarcho-nihilism. Blessed is the flame that burns in the secret fastness of the heart. Blessed is the match consumed in kindling flame. And may the flame that burns inside us burn everything around us. Introduction We are being led to our slaughter. To what extent do I remain attached to this society that I despise? What would it mean to sever those attachments? If this were Nazi Germany expanding out before me, how would I live my life?

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