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Warsaw ghetto (Poland)

Last modified: 2001-11-16 by jarig bakker
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Warsaw ghetto flags

Here is the most comprehensive account of chronology of the events in the Warsaw Ghetto.
Second is an account of the Uprising written by the only surviving commander of ZOB (Jewish Fighting Organization), Dr. Marek Edelman:
Third is my personal recollection of the journeys with my father re-tracing his movements of his own "passage thru hell" during the Warsaw Uprising of August-September 1944. First of it happened after his return from England in 1947 when he took me to the sites of his traumatic experiences during that Uprising, but also to the incredible wasteland of the desert, which once was
the Ghetto, and shown me the spot next to Muranowska Street, where his unit of the Home Army was trying to blow up the wall of the Ghetto and suffered heavy casualties. I remember vividly his description of uplifting sight of white and blue flag of ZZW (Jewish Military Union or Irgun) fluttering furiously next to white and red flag of Poland over the fierce battlefield behind the wall. That imaginary image stuck in my memory forever along with quite few others from both unprecedented Uprisings in my hometown. I lived myself thru both of them but don't have personal remembrance due to my age. I include several flags and pictures to help you understand better that difficult chapter of human history.
Chris Kretowicz, 14 Sep 2001

Flag of Warsaw Ghetto Judenrat 1940

[Flag of Warsaw Ghetto Judenrat 1940] by Chris Kretowicz, 14 Sep 2001

Flag of Zydowska Organizacja Bojowa-ZOB (Jewish Fighting Organization)

[Flag of Jewish Fighting Organization] by Chris Kretowicz, 14 Sep 2001

I'm not quite sure about the Fighting Organization flag. It wasn't a simple Zionist (Israeli) flag?
Nathan Lamm, 11 Nov 2001

Flag of Zydowski Zwiazek Wojskowy-ZZW (Jewish Military Union)

[Flag of Jewish Military Union] by Chris Kretowicz, 14 Sep 2001

Interesting to see that a Revisionist group uses a plain two stipes flag.
BETAR usually used flags based on the Zionist flags with inscriptions.
Dov Gutterman, 15 Sep 2001

Yes, it is quite puzzling. I am familiar with the fact that Betar used a variety of Zionist flags with slogans and images on it before the WW II and in Palestine, but it is also beyond the doubt that Pawel Frankel's ZZW units raised the white and blue bicolor (together with Polish flag) over their positions in the Warsaw Ghetto in the Uprising.
What was the reason for not using typical Betar flags ?
I can't speculate on it. Maybe somebody knows, and will be kind enough to give us an input on this question ?
Chris Kretowicz, 15 Sep 2001

A possible link to the Polish (light blue replacing red)? They *were* trying to get Polish support.
Nathan Lamm, 11 Nov 2001

Warsaw ghetto

Jose Luis Cepero from Cadiz likes to know:
What flag was hoisted in the ghhetto of Varsovia next to the polish flag? (He knows that it was blue and white but doesn't know the arrangement)
What was the personal flag, if any, of the leader of the Jews in a ghetto (name is not remembered) where even coins were made and whose leader was a virtual small king?
Jaume Ollé, 2 Sep 2001

During the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising of April-May, 1943, The ZOB (Zydowska Organizacja Bojowa or Jewish Fighting Organization or Yidische Kampf Organizatzion) led by Mordechaj Anielewicz and composed of members of leftist and ultra leftist youth organizations:

  • Dror He-Halutz (= Freedom - The Pioneer, unites two youth movements) - (5 fighting units),
  • Ha-Shomer ha-tzair (= The Young Guard - Still exists today in Israel as the youth movement of MAPAM (United Workers Party) which is part of Meretz Party) - (4 units),
  • Bund (socialists) (4 units),
  • PPR (Polish Workers Party - communists)  - (4 units),
  • Gordonia (Named after A.D Gordon, the main spiritual leader of the labour movement) - (1 unit),
  • Akiva (Bnei-Aqiva, a religious youth movement. Still exists today in Israel as the youth movement of MAFDAL (National Religious Party) - (1 unit),
  • Ha-No'ar ha-Ziyoni (= The Zionist Youth) - (1 unit) and
  • Po'alei Zion smol (Zion Workers - Left (split from Zion Workers) - (1 unit)
hoisted the Zionist flag (now Israeli flag) alongside Polish white and red flag over the bunker at 18 Mila Street, at least during the first few days of the Uprising. The other group of heroic fighters, not associated with the ZOB for ideological reasons,but allied with them just prior to Uprising, was 250 fighters strong unit of ZZW (Zydowski Zwiazek Wojskowy or Jewish Military Union) also known as Irgun (Irgun or Irgun Zva'ei Leumi (National Military Organization) was the military wing of the Revisionist Zionist Federation. BETAR (Brit Yosef Trumpeldor) was its youth movement, still exists today in Israel as the youth movement of Kherut movement, part of the Likud Party.whose members where associated primarily with Betar, right-wing, revisionist Zionist organization. That group was led by former Polish Army officer Pawel Frenkel and cultivated excellent relation with Polish Home Army and the Delegation of Polish Government in exile in London.They distinguished themselves with unbelievable courage while fighting from their compound on Muranowska Street, from which they were flying the double bi-colors: white over light blue and white over red. Those flags were clearly visible from the "aryan" side over the walls and stayed up well into the second week of the Uprising.

The Jewish Council (Judenrat) of Warsaw Ghetto was flying a white flag with the blue shield of David in the center.The Jewish
Police (or Ordnungsdienst) were wearing shield of David on their caps or berets. All of the "residents" of the Ghetto were required to wear white armbands with the shield of David. The president of the Judenrat in Warsaw Ghetto was dr Adam Czerniakow, a controversial and tragic figure,who commited suicide in 1942 after realizing his policy of appeasement and collaboration couldn't save any lives, especially those of children.The Warsaw Ghetto Judenrat issued paper money,which were,
of course, absolutely worthless outside the walls.

The one with the ironic title of "king" or "emperor" was the president of the Judenrat in the Lodz (Litzmanstadt) Ghetto in Central Poland. His name was Chaim Mordechaj Rumkowski and he was generally despised and hardly has any apologists in contrast to Dr.Czerniakow in Warsaw. In his "realm", the Nazis let him issue postage stamps with his portrait in the upper right corner, print paper money and even mint two coins: the aluminum 10 Mark and the magnesium 5 Mark.
I do hope this answers posted questions.
Chris Kretowicz and Dov Gutterman, 3 Sep 2001

The Warsaw Ghetto page on FOTW states that the Judenrat flew a blue Shield of David on white, while the resistance flew a standard Israeli/Zionist flag. On NBC's current series about the revolt, they show the revolt flying the first flag (almost square), however. Any info?
Nathan Lamm, 6 Nov 2001

The NBC miniseries is taking a lot of liberties with the historical truth about the events in Warsaw Ghetto,of which their depiction of the flag is only one of many and least significant, so believe rather FOTW pages than NBC.
Chris Kretowicz, 6 Nov 2001

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