Flags Over the Ghetto Jewish Military Organization, Warsaw (ZZW)
The stamp is issued to commemorate 70 years since the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising. In September 1939, as the German army approached Warsaw, the leaders of Polish Jewry fled the city. The Jews of Warsaw, the largest Jewish community in all of Europe, were left leaderless under the German occupation. The transport of Jews from the Warsaw Ghetto to the Treblinka death camp began in the summer of 1942. The Germans encountered no resistance. Youth movements took on the leadership role in the ghetto and began to organize in preparation for an uprising.
Two 23 year-old young men, Betar member Pawel Frenkel and Hashomer Hatzair member Mordechai Anielewicz, commanded two resistance organizations – the Jewish Military Organization (ZZW) and the Jewish Combat Organization (ZOB), which led the uprising. With no chance of overcoming the superior German forces, they fought for the honor of the Jewish people. Attempts to unite the two organizations encountered difficulties, stemming from an ideological rivalry that pre-existed the war.
On April 19, 1943, the eve of Passover, German troops entered the ghetto equipped with automatic weapons, artillery and armored vehicles. They were faced by a few hundred young Jews equipped with only meager weapons. The primary fighting inside the ghetto lasted 10 days. The main battle, “The Battle for the Flags”, took place in Muranowski Square between ZZW fighters led by Frenkel, who waved the Zionist flag (now the Israeli flag) and the Ppolish flag from one of the rooftops, and German forces commanded by General Jurgen Stroop. It took the Germans four days to subdue the resistors and remove the flags.
Shortly before the uprising broke out, Frenkel addressed a meeting of his fighters, "Comrades! We will die before our time but we are not doomed. We will live as long as Jewish history continues to live." Frenkel fell in a gun battle with German troops.
Description of the Stamp
The stamp features Pawel Frenkel, commander of the Jewish Military Organization, against the background of the building on Muranowski Square that was set ablaze by the Germans. The Zionist and Polish flags raised by the ZZW fighters are visible on the roof.
The portrait of Pawel Frenkel was painted by Gil Gibli, as described by Yisrael Ribak and Fella Finkelstein-Shapchik.