“Contact” ring used as a sign between the ZZW Jewish Militia Organization in the Warsaw Ghetto, and the Polish underground organization who assisted them from outside the walls of the Ghetto.
The initial steps towards creating an underground began even before the Ghetto was set up in Warsaw. The organization that grew out of the ranks of Betar, came to be known as the “Jewish Militia Oganization” – ZZW. The organization was well equipped with arms and its members had previous military experience. Over time, others not connected to Betar, joined their ranks. The organization grew and functioned independently of the “Jewish Fighter’s Organization” in the Warsaw Ghetto that had within its ranks, members of most of the Zionist youth movements. Attempts at reconciliation between the two organizations were unsuccessful and they continued to function independently of each other even during the uprising.
The ZZW were in constant contact with the Polish underground, - Armia Krajowa. The contact between the two groups was carried out through contact people who were chosen for their “Aryan” looks and their fluency in Polish. They smuggled arms into the Ghetto, smuggled people out of the Ghetto, and transferred information in both directions.
As a means of identification, the contacts used pre-arranged passwords that were changed weekly, in coordination with their Polish counterparts. An additional means of identification, used in particular during meetings of higher level officers, were two identical gold rings set with a red stone engraved with Jewish symbols. It was not enough for the contacts to show the ring, they were expected to explain the significance of the symbols.
The ring that was in the possession of the Jewish underground fighters, was destroyed in the ruins of the Ghetto. Its twin remained in the hands of Henryk Iwanski, the leader of the Polish underground.
In 1960, during the course of research on the Jewish Militia Organization, Chaya Lazar, a former Partisan in the Vilna forests, tracked Iwanski down in Poland. He told her of the existence of the ring, but refused to part with it. On his deathbed, he asked Chaya and Haim Lazar to take it to Israel and to exhibit it.
Henryk Iwanski was recognized as a Righteous among the Nations.
The Lazar Family has loaned the ring to the permanent exhibition of the Yad Vashem Museum.
Engraved on the red stone is a star representing the biblical passage “there shall step forth a star out of Jacob…“ (Numbers 24: 17). The number 7 engraved in the center of the star symbolizes the seven branches of the Menorah.
On either side of the ring: fruit, flowers and plants symbolizing the seven species and the belief that the Jewish people will flourish and be fruitful once again.