The first monument to honour the heroes of the Warsaw Ghetto was unveiled in April 1946. It was very modest, therefore soon it was decided to raise a larger monument. In July 1946, the Monument Construction Committee was set up, comprising: Adolf Berman, Icchak Cukierman and Bernard Falk. Sculptural decoration was commissioned from Natan Rappaport. The architectural shell of the monument was designed by engineer Leon Marek Suzin. Preparatory works began in 1947, involving political and social organisations, youth and numerous volunteers. The monument was built by the company of Marian Pliszczyński. Engineer J. Fedorowicz’s company carried out stonework, while the cast was made by the Paris workshop of Eugene Didier.

The Monument to the Ghetto Heroes was erected near the place of the first skirmish between Jewish fighting squads and Hitler’s army during the Ghetto Uprising in 1943 – on the square between the streets Anielewicza (former Gęsia), Karmelicka, Lewartowskiego (former Wołyńska), and Zamenhofa. It was unveiled on 19th April 1948 amid the ceremonies on the occasion of the fifth anniversary of the outbreak of the Ghetto Uprising

The monument is eleven metres high. Its is clad with slabs of roughly polished labradorite originating from Swedish quarries in Hunnebostrand. What merits attention is that the stone was commissioned by the minister of the economy of the Third Reich, Albert Speer, in 1942 as the material for future monuments to Hitler’s victory[1.1].

A sculpture and a relief were installed into the stone shell. The bronze sculpture on the western side presents a group of men, women and children. It symbolises the insurgents’ struggle and the suffering of civilians. In the centre, there is the uprising leader Mordechaj Anielewicz, holding a grenade in his left hand. On his right side, there are two men, an elderly man and a youth, ready to attack; on the left, there is a girl holding a shotgun. An insurgent’s dead body is lying at Anielewicz’s feet. Over the fighters hovers a figure of a bare woman with a child, perishing in flames. The way to the monument leads through broad stairs. Next to them, a concrete slab provides the base for two bronze menorahs. An inscription carved on the plinth reads in Polish, Yiddish, and Hebrew: “The Jewish Nation in honour of its fighters and martyrs.”

The eastern side of the monument holds a relief with a group of suffering women, children and the elderly led by the Germans in an unknown direction. The relief is said to refer to the decoration of the Arch of Titus in Rome, which displayed images of Jews banished from Jerusalem in the year 70.

For further reference see: A. Tanikowski, Zabytek hańby naszych wrogów, a chwały naszych umęczonych bohaterów. Urodziny Pomnika Bohaterów Getta, in: “Cwiszn” vol. 1/2 (2013), 112–118. Text also available online (as PDF) – http://www.cwiszn.pl/files/files/Tanikowski.pdf [Accessed 12 February 2014].

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Footnotes

  • [1.1] E. Małkowska-Bieniek, Śladami warszawskich Żydów, (2008), 144.