The Artifacts Collection
Artifacts in the Holocaust History Museum
One of twin rings used as a special means of identification in secret encounters between the commanders of the Jewish Military Union “ZZW” in the Warsaw Ghetto and commanders of the Polish underground.
An underground organization was established in Warsaw even before the setting up of the ghetto. An underground emerged from members of the Betar Zionist youth movement. It came to be known as the Jewish Military Union (ZZW- Zydowski Zwionzek Wojskowy). The organization was well armed and peopled by men with military experience. In time individuals and groups unconnected to Betar also joined. The organization functioned independently, with limited contact with the Jewish Fighting Organization (ZOB- Żydowska Organizacja Bojowa) that united most of the Zionist youth movements in the Warsaw Ghetto. In spite of repeated attempts at cooperation, the two organizations did not manage to unite and they operated separately even during the Uprising.
The ZZW maintained constant contact with the Polish underground "Armia Krajowa”. Contact was carried out through a liaison chosen for his/her “Aryan” looks and fluency in Polish. The liaisons smuggled arms into the ghetto, smuggled Jews out to the “Aryan” side and passed information in both directions.
As a sign of recognition, both sides used passwords that were changed and agreed upon regularly. An additional unique sign used for meetings between higher ranking leaders were two identical gold rings engraved with Jewish symbols and set with incised red stones. The liaisons were required not only to display the ring, but also to explain the symbols inscribed on them.
The ring that belonged to the ZZW was lost, but its twin remained in the possession of Henryk Iwański, one of the leaders of the Polish underground.
In 1960, Chaya Lazar, a former partisan in the Vilna forests, tracked down Iwański in Poland while conducting research on the ZZW. He told her about the ring, but at the time he refused to part with it. Before Iwański’s death he asked Chaya and her husband Chaim to take the ring to Israel and display it.
Henryk Iwański was recognized as “Righteous among the Nations”.
Loaned by Sarah Ozacky-Lazar and Edy Lazar in memory of their parents Chaim and Chaya Lazar, survivors of the Vilna ghetto and partisan fighters in the Rudniki forest who devoted their lives to the research and documentation of the Holocaust and the Resistance.