During World War II, in the basement of a townhouse at 18 Miła Street, a group of smugglers headed by Moshe Kulas and Srul Iser organized a hideout where goods smuggled from the so-called Aryan side of Warsaw to the ghetto were stored. The shelter had several large premises, masked hatches and ventilation. It was also supplied with water and electricity. There were six exits from the bunker. 

On April 27, during the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, the command of the Jewish Combat Organization (ŻOB – Żydowska Organizacja Bojowa) was located in the shelter. It included Mordechaj Anielewicz, Jehuda Wengrower, Arie Wilner, Michał Rozenfeld, Cywia Lubetkin, and then other units of fighters arrived. Among them were also civilians. In total, there were over 300 people in the basement of the building. The bunker's hosts did their best to help the fighters. They served as guides, provided food and vodka from the so-called Aryan side. 

On May 8, 1943, following a betrayal, the hideout was surrounded by the German troops. When the Jews were called to surrender, the civilian population left the bunker. The remaining ŻOB soldiers undertook an unequal battle. The Germans threw grenades inside and gassed the basement. Without any possibility of further fight and escape, the encircled Jewish combatants decided to commit suicide. Through the only exit which remained undiscovered by the Germans, about 15 people managed to get away. Among them were Michał Rozenfeld, Tosia Altman, Jehuda Wengrower, Pnina Zalcman and Menachem Bigelman.

In 1946, at the initiative of the Central Committee of Polish Jews, on the top of a mound made of rubble from neighbouring houses, at the place where the bunker was located, an obelisk was erected with inscriptions in Polish, Hebrew and Yiddish of the following content:

“On May 8, 1943, in this place Mordechaj Anielewicz - the commander of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising died as a soldier, together with the staff of the Jewish Combat Organization and several dozen fighters of the Jewish resistance fighting against the German invaders.”

In 2006, at the base of the mound, a small pyramid-like monument was unveiled. It was designed by Hanna Szmalenberg and made by the sculptor Marek Moderau. It carries the following inscription:

“Grave of the fighters of the Warsaw ghetto uprising, built from the rubble of the Miła street, one of the most lively streets of pre-war Jewish Warsaw. These ruins of the bunker at 18 Miła street are the place of rest of the commanders and fighters of the Jewish Combat Organization, as well as some civilians. Among them lies Mordechaj Anielewicz, the commander in chief. On May 8, 1943, surrounded by Nazis, after three weeks of struggle, many perished or took their own lives, refusing to perish at the hands of their enemies. There were several hundred bunkers built in the ghetto. Found and destroyed by the Nazis, they became graves. They could not save those, who sought refuge inside them, yet they remain everlasting symbols of the Warsaw Jews’ will to live. The bunker at Miła street was the largest in the ghetto. It is the place of rest of over one hundred fighters, only some of them are known by name. Here they rest, buried where they fell, to remind us that the whole Earth is their grave.”

Print