Polish Order of Virtuti Militari 5th Class Silver medal awarded posthumously to a Warsaw Ghetto Uprising hero
1944 February 18
issue: London (England)
received: Stockholm (Sweden)
- Object Type
Medals, Polish (lcsh)
- Credit Line
- United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of Rose Klepfisz
Polish Order of Virtuti Militari 5th Class Silver medal awarded posthumously to Michal Klepfisz, a member of the Jewish Combat Organization (ZOB), who died on the second day of the Warsaw ghetto uprising. The medal was issued by the Polish government-in-exile on February 18, 1944, and sent to Michal’s wife, Rose, after the war. Growing up in Warsaw, Michal was an active member of the Bund, participating in their youth branch and sports organization. The Bund, or League of Jewish workers in Russia, Lithuania, and Poland, was the Jewish Socialist party. In 1937, he married fellow Bundist, Rose Perczykow. In October 1940, Michal and his family were forced to move into the Jewish ghetto established in Warsaw. In 1942, after Michal’s parents were transported to the Treblinka II killing center in German-occupied Poland, he decided to escape the ghetto with his wife, and their 1-year-old daughter, Irena. Outside of the ghetto, Michal worked for the underground Bund resistance movement and the ZOB, acquiring and smuggling weapons. He learned to make his own explosives, and set up factories in the ghetto to teach other ZOB personnel. During the Warsaw ghetto uprising, Michal fought in the brush factory district, under the command of Marek Edelman. During the fighting, they came across a German with a machine gun. Michal sacrificed himself by covering the machine gun with his body, and clearing a path for the other men. After driving off the Germans, Edelman and his surviving fighters returned and buried Michal’s body.
Record last modified: 2021-12-20 13:32:43
This page: https://collections.ushmm.org/search/catalog/irn8552
Also in Michal Klepfisz collection
The collection consists of a Polish Virtuti Militari medal with its presentation box and envelope, and correspondence relating to the experiences of Michal Klepfisz in Warsaw, Poland, during World War II.
The Michal Klepfisz consists of a 1944 letter sent from the Polish Government in Exile in London to Rose Klepfisz in Stockholm concerning the death of her husband, Michal Klepfisz, death in the Warsaw. Also includes an affidavit sent from the ŻOB (Jewish Fighting Organization) attesting to Michal Klepfisz's activities with the ŻOB, and the text of a decoded telegram reading "Michal Klepfisz of Bund, who was hidden on the Aryan side and working to produce explosives for the Warsaw Ghetto, was a representative of ZOB for the Polish Underground. The day before the Ghetto Uprising, he entered the Ghetto and joined the resistance crew on StoJerskiej street. In the second day of fighting he distinguished himself as a brave warrior and was killed." The telegram includes a handwritten note at bottom reading "Silver Cross of Military Medal Virtutui Militari, 5th Class, Dr. Person, Feb. 44."