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Polish Order of Virtuti Militari 5th Class Silver medal awarded posthumously to a Warsaw Ghetto Uprising hero

Object | Accession Number: 1994.109.1 a-c

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.

Date
issue:  1944 February 18
received:  1946
Geography
manufacture: London (England)
issue: London (England)
received: Stockholm (Sweden)
Language
Latin
Polish
English
Classification
Awards
Category
Medals
Object Type
Medals, Polish (lcsh)
Genre/Form
Awards.
Credit Line
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of Rose Klepfisz
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Record last modified: 2019-07-29 12:49:34
This page: https://collections.ushmm.org/search/catalog/irn8552