About The Warsaw Ghetto Fighters Monument
The Warsaw Ghetto Fighters Monument – Pomnik Bohaterow Getta or Monument to the Ghetto Heroes – in Warsaw, Poland, commemorates those who fought and perished in the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising. The monument was designed by Natan Rapaport and unveiled on the 5th anniversary of the uprising, offering a moving depiction of the fighters led by Mordechaj Anielewicz.
The Warsaw Ghetto Fighters Monument history
In the summer of 1942, the Nazis began their mass deportation and murder of Jews who had been until then imprisoned in the Warsaw Ghetto. Those remaining in the ghetto began to build bunkers and smuggle weapons as well as explosives inside. The left-wing group Jewish Combat Organisation and right-wing Jewish Military Union also formed, and a small Polish resistance effort attempted to help the Jews.
When the uprising began on 19 April and the Jews refused to surrender, police commander of the SS Jürgen Stroop ordered the burning of the ghetto which continued until 16 May, killing 16,000 ghetto inhabitants. While the Jewish fighters knew they were not likely to survive the uprising, the conflict marked the largest single revolt by the Jewish people during World War Two.
Shortly before the war’s end in 1944, the decision was made to build a monument to the partisans of the uprising by the Central Committee of Polish Jews in Lublin. A memorial was designed by Leon Suzin consisting of a small circular tablet with a palm leaf, Hebrew Letter ‘B’ and an inscription in Hebrew and Yiddish. The committee decided to build a larger monument in the future.
In 1948, the larger monument came into being designed by sculptor Nathan Rapoport and unveiled on the 5th anniversary of the uprising. Rapoport designed the wall of the monument to evoke the ghetto walls as well as the Western Wall in Jerusalem – Judaism’s most holy site.
Rapoport’s monument was the site of West-German Chancellor Willy Brandt’s genuflection, a gesture of humility and recognition of the Warsaw Uprising in 1970 during the Cold War. In 2013, a Museum of the History of Polish Jews was opened opposite the monument.
The Warsaw Ghetto Fighters Monument today
Today, you can visit the monument within the former Warsaw Ghetto at the spot where the first armed clash took place. Standing 11 metres high, the monument also contains a bronze sculpture depicting the insurgents – formed of women, men, and children – all armed with guns and Molotov cocktails. In the frieze’s centre, you can see Mordechaj Anielewicz, who led the Jewish Combat Organisation during the uprising.
Note the dark labradorite stone used to construct the monument, which was originally intended to be used by the Nazis to build their monuments.
Getting to The Warsaw Ghetto Fighters Monument
Using public transport around Warsaw is easy: catch the 35 tram to Dzika, just outside the monument and museum. Otherwise, the 157 and N12, N13, N46, N62 and N63 buses all stop at Stawki, the road the monument lies along.
Explore the diverse history of Poland, from the great Barbakan to the beautiful Wilanow Palace, through our guide to 10 historic sites, landmarks and monuments to see when in Poland.