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Jewish Military Union

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Title: Jewish Military Union  
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Jewish Military Union

Żydowski Związek Wojskowy (ŻZW, World War II in the area of the Warsaw Ghetto which fought during the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising. It was formed primarily of former officers of the Polish Army in late 1939, soon after the start of the German occupation of Poland.[1]

Due to its close ties with the right-wing Żydowska Organizacja Bojowa (Jewish Fighting Organization), which had less direct ties to the AK.



Commemorative pennant of ŻZW
Commemorative plaque at 1 Muranowska Street in Warsaw

The ŻZW was formed some time in November 1939, immediately after the General Władysław Sikorski, the Polish commander in chief and the prime minister of the Polish Government in Exile

Initially consisting of only 39 men, each armed with a Lublin, Lwów and Stanisławów. Although initially formed entirely by professional soldiers, with time it also included members of pre-war right wing Jewish-Polish parties such as Betar (among them Perec Laskier, Lowa Swerin, Paweł Frenkel, Merediks, Langleben and Rosenfeld), Hatzohar (Joel Białobrow, Dawid Wdowiński) (Political Chair), and the revisionist faction of the Polish Zionist Party (Leib "Leon" Rodal and Meir Klingbeil).[2]

The ŻZW was formed in close ties with Iwański's organization and initially focused primarily on acquisition of arms and preparation of a large-scale operation in which all of its members could escape to [4]

Although the ŻZW was active in a number of towns in Poland, its major [4]


The military leader of the ŻZW at the time of the uprising was Dr. [2][6]

  • Political Chair, Dawid Wdowiński
  • Information Department, directed by Leon Rodal;
  • Organization Department, directed by Paweł Frenkel;
  • Supply Department ("Kwatermistrzowski"), directed by Leon Wajnsztok;
  • Finances Department, without a director;
  • Communication Department (contacts with Armia Krajowa mainly), directed by Dawid Apfelbaum;
  • Medical Department led by dr Józef Celmajster (under pseudonym Niemirski);
  • Juridical Department under Dawid Szulman;
  • Saving (Ratowanie) Department (transporting Jewish children and others outside the ghetto), under Kalma Mendelson;
  • Department of Technology, Transport and Supplies (which, among other things, built two tunnels under the Ghetto walls) led by Hanoch Federbusz;
  • Military Department under Paweł Frenkel and Dawid Apfelbaum.

Warsaw Ghetto Uprising

During the Nalewki, Gęsia Street and Franciszkańska street. Dawid Berliński's group took position in second part of Nalewki. Roman Winsztok commanded group near Muranowska, where also the headquarters of the Union was located (Muranowska 7/9 Street).[6] Photograph of ZZW headquarters at 2 Muranow Street Warsaw [8]

After the war

Already during the war the influence and the importance of the Żydowski Związek Wojskowy was being downgraded. The surviving commanders of the leftist ŻOB either did not mention the ŻZW's fight in the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising in their writings at all,[2] or belittled its importance.[9] Also the war-time Soviet propaganda did only briefly mention the fighters as they collided with its aims of presenting the Soviet Union as the only defender of the European Jewry.[10] In addition, except for David Wdowiński none of the high-ranking commanders of the ŻZW survived the war to tell their part of the story and it was not until 1963 that Wdowiński's memoirs[6] were published.

This led to a number of myths concerning both the ŻZW and the Uprising being commonly repeated in many modern publications.[11] This was even strengthened by the post-war propaganda of the Polish communists, who openly underlined the value of the leftist Armia Krajowa-backed ŻZW.[2]

The “Contact” ring used as a sign between the ŻZW and the Armia Krajowa is displayed in Yad Vashem. A means of identification, used in particular during meetings of higher level officers, were two identical gold rings set with a red stone engraved with Jewish symbols. It was not enough for the contacts to show the ring, they were expected to explain the significance of the symbols.

The ring that was in the possession of the Jewish underground fighters, was destroyed in the ruins of the Ghetto. Its twin remained in the hands of Henryk Iwanski, the leader of the Polish underground and later brought to the museum in Jerusalem, Israel.[12]

Doubts about veracity of some accounts

In recent years, new research has been published on the ŻZW which has called into question the validity of some of what was written on the underground organization, including and most recently Maciej Kledzik, Marian Apfelbaum, Stefan Bratkowski and [14]

See also

Notes and references

  1. ^ Moshe Arens (2005). "The Jewish Military Organization (ŻZW) in the Warsaw Ghetto". Holocaust Genocide Studies 19 (2). 
  2. ^ a b c d e f  
  3. ^ Some sources render his surname as Appelbaum; in fact most surnames mentioned in this article are often misspelt in the sources, cf. Frenkel - Frenkiel, Wajnsztok - Weinsztok; see also Kledzik, op.cit.
  4. ^ a b c Moshe Arens (May 2003). "The Changing Face of Memory: Who Defended The Warsaw Ghetto?".  
  5. ^ By Polish resistance standards obviously; see also Moshe Arens, op.cit.
  6. ^ a b c d e David Wdowiński (1963). And we are not saved. New York: Philosophical Library. p. 222.   Note: Chariton and Lazar were never co-authors of Wdowiński's memoir. Wdowiński is considered the "single author."
  7. ^ (Polish) "Żydowski Związek Wojskowy".  
  8. ^ [1]
  9. ^  
  10. ^ Pyotr Gorelik (August 2003). "КРЕПОСТЬ МАСАДА В ВАРШАВЕ (Masada fortress in Warsaw)". Zametki po Evreiskoy Istorii (in Русский). 2002-08-30 (32). Retrieved 2006-05-09. 
  11. ^ Aleksandr Svishchev (July 2003). "Восстание в Варшавском гетто. Мифы и действительность (Warsaw Ghetto Uprising: myths and facts". Еврейские новости (Jewish News) (in Русский). 2003-07-23 (27 (51)). Retrieved 2006-05-09. 
  12. ^ Yad-Vashem's website
  13. ^ Dariusz Libionka & Laurence Weinbaum - Bohaterowie, hochsztaplerzy, opisywacze Wokół Żydowskiego Związku Wojskowego (Stowarzyszenie Centrum Badań nad Zagładą Żydów, Warsaw: 2011)
  14. ^ Dariusz Libionka and Laurence Weinbaum, A Legendary Commander - Haaretz, 22 June 2007
  1. Chaim Lazar (1966). Muranowska 7: the Warsaw Ghetto rising. Tel Aviv: Massada P.E.C. Press. p. 341. ISBN. 
  2. Maciej Kledzik (June 2004). "Zapomniani żołnierze (Forgotten Soldiers)". Rzeczpospolita (in Polski) 136 (2004-06-12). Retrieved 2006-05-09. 

Further reading

  • Arens, Moshe, "Flags Over the Ghetto"
  • Apfelbaum, Marian 2007, "Two Flags; Return to the Warsaw Ghetto", Gefen Publishing House. ISBN 978-965-229-356-5
  • David Wdowiński (1963). And we are not saved. New York: Philosophical Library, 222. ISBN 0-8022-2486-5.
  • Antony Polonsky, "Heroes, Hucksters, and Storytellers: A New History of the Jewish Military Union (ŻZW) in the Warsaw Ghetto" Yad Vashem Studies, 41:2 (2013)

External links

  • The Warsaw Ghetto Uprising on the Yad Vashem website
  • The battle of the ghettos
  • Jews Under Occupation
  • (Polish) Żydowski Związek Wojskowy
  • (Russian) ПленАрон Шнеер. A book by Jewish-Latvian author; includes data on Jewish troops in World War II]
  • Deconstructing Memory and History
  • "Flags Over the Ghetto" Israeli stamp to honor the 70th anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising
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