Young men, women and children from the Warsaw’s ghetto armed with guns and Molotov cocktails or fighting with their bare hands. You will see them sculptured on the walls of the Heroes of the Warsaw Ghetto Memorial. If you look around standing at the memorial you will discover many other ghetto commemorations.
Let’s begin with the name of the famous memorial. It is called To the Heroes of the Ghetto or the Rapaport Memorial – as Nathan Rapaport (or Rappaport) was the co-author of the sculptures. It was created in 1948 and since then has witnessed many important events: this is the very spot where Willy Brandt (Chancellor of Federeral Republic of Germany) knelt down in 1970 in a gesture of penance and humility. BTW, there is a memorial to that event as well, and it is located at the other end of the square.
What’s interesting, there is another, smaller memorial built next to the famous one. In fact, the decision to build a monument to the Ghetto fighters was taken in 1944. As a consequence, the first memorial, designed by Leon Suzin, was unveiled in April 1946. You can see it today, it is located a few meters from the Rapaport Memorial, but it is much less majestic. Look for a simple piece of red limestone in the shape of a circle, with a palm leaf, the Hebrew letter bet and an inscription written in Hebrew, Polish and Yiddish.
There are some interesting photos from the unveiling ceremonies of both memorials at the core exhibition of the Polin Museum of the History of Polish Jews. There you will see how the whole district looked like after the Nazis decided to raise it to the ground. The museum itself was opened in 2014 and since then has been considered one of the best of its kind. For example, in 2016 it was rewarded with European Museum Academy Award, but it’s best if you see it for yourself. The building was designed by Rainer Mahlamäki, an architect from Finland.
In spring, in the vicinity of the memorials, you can find flowers with a special meaning. For example the Irena Sendler red tulips named after a nurse and a social worker who saved 2500 Jewish children out of the Warsaw Ghetto.
Then, there are a lot of yellow daffodils: some planted and some just laid in the memory of the Warsaw Ghetto fighters and their last commander – Marek Edelman. He used to leave a bunch of the spring flowers on the Rappaport Memorial every April, on the anniversary of the outbreak of the 1943 Ghetto Rising. This is why daffodils have become symbolic flowers for the Jewish fighters from WWII; just look at the temporary mural by Andrzej Wieteszka created in spring 2017 in the city centre.
In between flowers and stones and in front of the entrance to the Polin Museum, you can find medium-sized, dark blocks of stone. They are part of the Memorial Route of Jewish Martyrdom and Struggle in Warsaw 1940 – 1943. The stones, placed there in 1988, will lead you towards the Umschlagplatz Memorial. It’s not easy to read what was written on them, but if you focus, you will be able to discover names and events important for the history of Jews in Warsaw.
We provide guided city tours focused on the Jewish heritage in Warsaw and guiding services in the Polin Museum. Tickets for individual visitors can be bought both on line and in the Museum. Group visits must be booked via the Polin Museum official website (no more than 25 pax in a group). On request, we can assist you with the booking.