Anniversaries & holidays

Warsaw City Council has announced the Year 2019 as Marek Edelman's Year

Marek Edelman rzuca kwiaty pod pomnikiem Bohaterów Getta w Warszawie
Marek Edelman rzuca kwiaty pod pomnikiem Bohaterów Getta w Warszawie / Marek Edelman throws flowers at the monument to the Ghetto Heroes in Warsaw, fot. Muzeum Historii Żydów Polskich

Marek Edelman was officially named a patron of the year 2019 in Warsaw, following the City Council meeting held on 24 January.

The year 2019 marks Marek Edelman’s 100th birthday and the 10th anniversary of his passing. 

The last commander of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising and one of the few survivors from the Warsaw ghetto, Edelman was born in Homel, most likely on 1 January 1919, and died on 2 January 2009 in Warsaw. A cardiologist by profession, he was also a well-known social and political activist, which garnered him a title of the Honorary Citizen of Warsaw. 

In his youth, Edelman was a member of Yungt-Bund Tsukunft, the main Bundist youth organization in interwar Poland. During the war, while working at the Bersohns and Baumans children’s hospital, he was involved in Tsukunft’s conspiratorial activities. He also edited and published underground press in the Warsaw ghetto. As one of the commanders of the Jewish Combat Organization (ŻOB), during the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising he led a ŻOB troop at the site of a brush factory commonly referred to as the "brush shop".  After the death of Mordechai Anielewicz, Edelman became the Uprising commander. He fled the ghetto through the sewers and emerged, along with other surviving insurgents, on the "Aryan side" on 9 May 1943. He then fought in the 1944 Warsaw Uprising  as a ŻOB member in the People’s Army in the Old Town and Żoliborz.

After the war Edelman decided to stay in Poland - he settled in Łódź and pursued his professional career as a cardiologist. At the time of the People’s Republic of Poland he was active in the democratic opposition. He was awarded the Order of the White Eagle in 1998, the St. George’s Medal in 1999 and the Legion of Honor by the President of France in 2008. He received an honorary doctorate from: Yale University (1989), Université Libre in Brussels, Medical University in Łódź (2007) and the Jagiellonian University in Kraków (2009). In 1999, Edelman was named the Resident of the Year by the City of Łódź. Author of numerous memoirs and accounts, he was laid to rest at the Jewish cemetery on Okopowa Street in Warsaw, in the vicinity of other Bundists.

He remained a social activist deeply engaged in fighting for the rights of the weak and downtrodden till the very end of his life. He always stressed that freedom is most important in human life.

Each year on 19 April Marek Edelman used to show up in front of the Monument to the Warsaw Ghetto Heroes to pay tribute to his fallen comrades-in-arms. He preserved the memory of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising and that of the Bund both in his memoirs written shortly after the war and in many films and interviews he gave over the years.

Based on: Martyna Rusiniak-Karwat, Virtual Shtetl