By Hannah Labovitz, Contributing Writer
On April 19, 1943, the few thousand Jews remaining in the Warsaw Ghetto made the brave and inspiring decision to resist the Nazis and to stage a violent uprising. In addition to making a statement against the Nazis, one major goal of the uprising was to create a long-lasting legacy for the Warsaw Ghetto Jews, an attempt to preserve memory through impact. As Simha “Kazik” Rotem, a fighter from the uprising had explained, “[The Uprising’s] leaders had a strong sense of history and felt they were the last remaining Jews. Hence, they assumed the responsibility to preserve, and to tell, the story of Polish Jewry in the ‘days of destruction and revolt.’”
Before the Uprising, these valiant individuals had faced their greatest challenges for over three years, beginning in 1939 with the start of World War II. After the struggle they had witnessed—the death in the streets of the ghetto and the increased deportations to death camps—they decided that all they had left to do was fight back, to show the world that the Jewish people were not going to allow their history to be wiped out. The expectation of this event was not Jewish success or the destruction of the Nazis; it was simply to make an impact. Arieh “Jurek” Wilner, a fighter in the ghetto and an emissary with the Jewish Combat Organization (ŻOB) had been quoted saying “we do not wish to save our lives. None of us will come out of this alive. We want to save the honor of mankind.”
Through the actions of the ghetto fighters, memory preservation was done to make sure the Jewish struggle did not disappear. The story would continue to be told even after their deaths, as seen through the establishment of the POLIN Museum and their formation of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising Campaign. Program Coordinator, Mary Seidler, explained that the museum’s “annual Daffodils Campaign raises awareness of the first and largest Jewish uprising in German-occupied Europe.” The goal of the movement is to ensure that the memory of these brave fighters does not fade. Their actions were meant to create an impact, and even 78 years later, we still recognize the heroism of the ghetto fighters.
To commemorate the actions of the ghetto fighters, on this upcoming Monday, look out for paper yellow daffodils (just like the one President Iuliano is holding!) to wear as a part of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising Campaign, also known as the Daffodil Campaign. The director of the American Friends of the POLIN Museum program, Rebecca Schaeffer-Moldovan, wrote in a statement that “the campaign was inspired by Marek Edelman, a leader of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, who would anonymously receive a bouquet of yellow daffodils each year and lay them at the Monument to the Ghetto Heroes.”
If you are interested in showing your support for the campaign, you can find a pile of paper daffodils by the CUB Information Desk on Monday or you can print your own template. Grab one of the daffodils and post an image on social media with the hashtags #RememberingTogether, #WarsawGhettoUprisingCampaign, and #POLINMuseum. For more information on the campaign and access to templates to print out your own daffodils, go to https://www.polin.pl/en/Warsawghettouprising.