Zivia Lubetkin

Zivia Lubetkin gives testimony trial
Credit: Yad Vashem

Zivia Lubetkin (1914-1978) was one of the leaders and fighters of the Jewish underground in the Warsaw Ghetto and a founder of the Zydowska Organizacja Bojowa (Jewish Fighting Organisation; ZOB). Born in Beten, in eastern Poland, Lubetkin at an early age joined Freiheit (Dror), a Zionist pioneering youth movement. When World War II broke out she was caught in the Soviet/Russian-occupied part of Poland, but in 1940 she made her way to German occupied Warsaw to take part in her movement’s underground work.

Lubetkin was one of the central figures in the Jewish underground movement in Poland. In 1942 she was one of a small group of Jewish underground members who established the Antifascist Bloc, the first organisation to be established in the Warsaw ghetto that aimed to physically resist the Germans. Later that year, during the Great Deportation from Warsaw, Lubetkin took part in the establishment of the ZOB (the Jewish Fighting Organisation) in the Warsaw ghetto, and played a prominent part in determining its operations and direction.

Lubetkin fought in the first armed resistance action launched by the ZOB in January 1943, and in the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising in April of that year. In the aftermath of the rebellion, while the ghetto was being burned by the Nazis, she served as a courier undertaking dangerous journeys to different locations in the ghetto. The remnant of the ghetto population, as well as the fighters of the underground resistance had dug themselves into bunkers. Lubetkin travelled between the bunkers maintaining communication between the leaders of the rebellion, and the fighters who continued to oppose the Germans. She was among the remnant of the ghetto fighters to make it to the Polish side of Warsaw, by way of the sewers.