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«Wartime Rescue of Jews by the Polish Catholic Clergy The Testimony of Survivors Edited and compiled by Mark Paul Polish Educational Foundation in ...»

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[1] Jan Gawrych lived with his wife and their four children in a small house adjacent to the Wolka Czarninska [Wólka Czarnińska] estate near the town of Stanisławów, which is near Minsk [Mińsk] Mazowiecki in the Warsaw district. … Jan Gawrych worked there as a forester. … In 1942, when a young girl named Fryda Szpringer escaped from the ghetto in Minsk Mazowiecki, which was about to be liquidated, she went straight to the house of the Gawrychs, who did not hesitate to accept her unconditionally into their home. They treated her kindly, gave her help, and told anyone who asked about her identity that she was a relative. In September 1942, the Stanislawow ghetto was liquidated and its inhabitants were taken to the extermination camp in Treblinka. Three of them—Chaskiel Paper, Tirza Zylberberg, and Moshe Aronson— escaped from the transport and after wandering through fields and villages arrived at the home of Jan and Aleksandra Gawrych, who at great risk took them in too and gave them food and lodging. … On March 8, 1943, after somebody informed on them, German policemen raided the Gawrych home. The Jews hiding there tried to escape, but except for Szpringer they were all shot to death. The Gawrych home was burned down, Jan was arrested and transferred to the Gestapo in Minsk Mazowiecki, where he was tortured and murdered. Szpringer managed to flee the massacre and after wandering through the neighboring villages found shelter in a convent in Ignacow [Ignaców], where she remained until the liberation of the area in the summer of 1944. After the war she immigrated to Israel.

[2] In August 1942, during the liquidation of the Minsk [Mińsk] Mazowiecki ghetto in the Warsaw district, three girls— Irena Romano, Frania Aronson, and Miriam Sada—escaped. After wandering through the area, the three reached St.

Anthony’s Convent … in the nearby village of Ignacow [Ignaców], where they were welcomed by Marianna Reszko, the mother superior. Although she realized they were Jewish refugees, Reszko took them in and put them to work as kitchen hands and maids. Joanna Mistera, a nun who was also let in on the secret, looked after them devotedly and watched out for their safety, especially when Germans visited the convent. The three Jewish girls stayed in the convent until September 1944, when the area was liberated and after the war immigrated to Israel.

Mother Marianna Reszko and Sister Joanna Mistera were recognized by Yad Vashem as Righteous Gentiles. (See also the testimony of Franciszka A. (Frania Aronson) and Irit R. (Irena Romano) in Kurek, Your Life Is Worth Mine, pp.171–77, 191–97.) The Sisters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul maintained a number of institutions in Warsaw where they extended help to Jews. They also provided their services at the Father Boduen Home for infant foundlings (Dom Małych Dzieci im. Ks. Gabriela Piotra Baudouina), located at 75 Nowogrodzka Street, together with lay personnel.

Several hundred Jewish children are believed to have passed through that home. The director, Dr. Maria Wierzbowska, was recognized by Yad Vashem on behalf of all of the home’s dedicated staff. Among the former Jewish charges who attended the award ceremony in Warsaw in February 2007 were Krystyna Kalata, Teresa Lisiewska, Katarzyna Moloch, Joanna Sobolewska-Pyz, Debora Stocker, Barbara Schmid, Anna Szpanowska, Michał Głowiński, Stan Kol, and Aaron Seidenberg.27 The following accounts, which describe the activities of the Sisters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul, are from Gutman and Bender, The Encyclopedia of the Righteous Among the Nations, volumes 4 and 5: Poland, Part 1, at pages 427–28, 430, 435, 435–36, 459, 494; Part 2, at pages 606, 645, 820. Although some of the summaries claim the nuns did not about their charges’ Jewish origin, that information is not very credible as they likely suspected as much, if only because of the children’s lack of knowledge of religious matters.

[1] In 1938, soon after Eleonora Hopfenstand gave birth to her daughter, Juliana, Marianna Bronik [Kurkowska-Bronik] began working in her Warsaw home as a nursemaid, remaining there until the city’s Jews were interned in the local ghetto.

27 Anna Sierpińska, “Uroczystość nadania tytułu ‘Sprawiedliwi Wśród Narodów Świata’ … w Domu Małych Dzieci im. Ks. G.P.

Baudouina w Warszawie, 22 lutego 2007 r.,” Internet: http://dzieciholocaustu.org.pl/szab13.php?s=aktualnosci004_01.php.

81 Bronik would often go into the ghetto, taking great risks, to bring Hopfenstand various foodstuffs. In July 1942, during the large-scale Aktion in the ghetto, Hopfenstand succeeded in smuggling Juliana out to the Aryan side of the city, where, as they had agreed in advance, Kurkowska-Bronik received her. From that day on, Kurkowska looked after Juliana as if she were her own daughter, telling anyone who asked that she was a relative whose parents had been deported to Germany. In Kurkowska’s home, the child was given loving care, until one of the neighbors began to suspect that she was Jewish. It turned out afterwards that the neighbor was an agent of the Gestapo, who was later executed in her apartment by members of the Polish underground. But Kurkowska, whose experience had made her wary, preferred to place Juliana in an institution for children [on Czerniakowska Street28] run by nuns (Siostry Szartyki), without revealing that she was Jewish. The Jewish child remained there even after the children of the institution were deported with all the city’s residents after the Warsaw Uprising in August 1944, and it was there that her mother found her after the liberation in January 1945.

[2] In 1943, after countless ordeals, Zuzanna Ronen and her four-year-old daughter, Wera, arrived in Warsaw from one of the neighboring towns. Exhausted and hungry, lacking shelter or any means of livelihood, the two walked around the city streets until Boguslaw [Bogusław] Jan Kurylowicz [Kuryłowicz] suddenly came up to them. Before the war, Kurylowicz had managed a business together with Ronen’s husband and had become friends with him and his family.

Kurylowicz realized how desperate the two Jewish refugees were and, despite the risk to his life, invited them to his spacious home in the center of the city, where he lived with his wife, Zofia. Ronen and her daughter were warmly welcomed into the Kurylowiczes’ home. After the two rested for a few days and received devoted care, Zofia succeeded in placing Wera in a home for children run by nuns, where she passed her off as a relative. At the same time, Boguslaw Jan took steps to save Ronen, soon obtaining for her Aryan papers, a room to live in, and employment as a clerk. After the Warsaw Uprising was suppressed in October 1944, Ronen managed to move to nearby Milanowek [Milanówek], with Kurylowicz’s help, while her daughter Wera was transferred, along with all the other girls in the institution where she had been placed, to a location far from Warsaw. Ronen and her daughter were liberated in January 1945 and after the war immigrated to Israel. Deeply grateful, they never forgot the Kurylowiczes, who saved their lives without receiving anything in return, motivated solely their human compassion.

Vera Frister, born in Lwów in 1937 as Vera Hefter, described her stay at the orphanage on Czerniakowska Street run by the Sisters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul, where she was known as Janka Michalska and was cared for lovingly by Sister Teresa, in her account of May 27, 2006, titled “Aniele… stróżu moj…” (“My Guardian Świecie Nasz–Comiesięczny Magazyn Polonii,

Angel”), published in Internet:

http://artographix.net/sn/index.php?id=48e0f92. After the Warsaw Uprising of August 1944, the Sisters and their charges were forced to leave Warsaw along with the rest of the population. After several days’ journey in the countryside, marching from village to village with large numbers of evacuees, Vera’s mother found her. Vera spent the rest of the war hiding with her mother. Mrs. Kuryłowicz, a devout Catholic, believed that it was her duty to help those in need, regardless of their religion.

[3] When the Warsaw ghetto was sealed, Maria Kwiatkowska came to the aid of Jews interned in it. She smuggled foodstuffs and medications to them, and also helped some of her acquaintances to flee to the Aryan side of the city. In December 1942, when Zegota [Żegota] was established, Kwiatkowska became active in the organization. Without asking for anything in return, simply because she felt it was her moral duty to help Jews persecuted by a common enemy, Kwiatkowska became one of Zegota’s most courageous and outstanding couriers. Risking her own life, Kwiatkowska helped Dr. Jozef [Józef] Fuswerk and his wife, Maria née Adler (who perished in the Warsaw Uprising in the summer of 1944), escape from the ghetto and housed them in her mother’s apartment until she was able to find a permanent shelter for them. With Kwiatkowska’s active assistance, Stefania Staszewska also fled the ghetto. Kwiatkowska obtained Aryan papers for her and employed her as a housekeeper in her home. After the outbreak of the Warsaw Uprising, Kwiatkowska transferred Staszewska to Zakopane, where she was liberated in January 1945. Kwiatkowska also saved Jewish children by taking them to Christian orphanages, in particular to the Father Boduen children’s home, where she was known and her activity was greatly valued. [She placed Elżbieta, the daughter of Barbara P. there, with the assistance of her cousin, Helena Michalak, a nun who worked there.29] Kwiatkowska’s apartment in the center of Warsaw was an address for Jews who fled from the ghetto and those seeking shelter on the Aryan side. Among the Jews whose lives were saved thanks to 28 Grynberg, Księga sprawiedliwych, p.286.

29 Grynberg, Księga sprawiedliwych, p.289.

–  –  –

[4] While still a youngster, Wanda Kwiatkowska was active in the PPS [Polish Socialist Party] in Warsaw. In 1940, Kwiatkowska met Jonas Benon in the home of a party activist who was married to a Jewish woman. In the summer of 1942, during the large-scale deportations from the Warsaw ghetto, Benon turned to Kwiatkowska, asking her to help him and his family find a hiding place on the Aryan side of the city. Kwiatkowska did as requested and managed to get Aryan papers and accommodations in Warsaw for Jonas, his wife, Bronislawa [Bronisława], and their two sons, nine-year-old Andrzej and two-year-old Stanislaw [Stanisław]. After a while, Barbara Palatynska [Palatyńska], Bronislawa’s sister, also escaped with her two-year-old daughter, Elzbieta [Elżbieta]. Palatynska paid a Polish woman to look after her daughter while she herself moved in with her sister. Jonas, who found separate accommodations, worked to provide for the family. When, in the spring of 1943, neighbors became suspicious of the two sisters, they were forced to separate. Once again Kwiatkowska came to the rescue. She arranged for the Benons’ older boy to move in with acquaintances, where he stayed until the end of the war, while Kwiatkowska arranged for Bronislawa to move in with her cousin, Zofia Prager, who lived in Ozarow [Ożarów] Mazowiecki, near Warsaw. Although Prager realized that Bronislawa was Jewish, she agreed to let her stay for about a year and a half, until January 1945, when the area was liberated by the Red Army, after which she was reunited with her family. Palatynska, who, thanks to her Aryan looks, managed to survive numerous hardships after leaving her sister, found work but was unable to find a long-term arrangement for her little girl. Kwiatkowska once again came to the rescue and with the help of a relative who was a nun working in Father Boduen's orphanage in Warsaw arranged for Elzbieta to be admitted to the orphanage, where she remained until the end of the war.

[5] Daniela Szylkret was four years old in 1942, when a Polish acquaintance of her parents took her out of the Warsaw ghetto and handed her over to a family of Jewish refugees who were living outside the ghetto under false identities. Later, when someone informed on them to the authorities, the family that adopted Daniela was arrested and executed. Daniela was saved thanks to the intervention of Wladyslaw [Władysław] and Stefania Lipski, who despite the danger to their lives testified that Daniela was not Jewish. They placed her, as a Christian, in an orphanage run by nuns (Siostry Szarytki), where she remained until the end of the war, after which she immigrated to Israel … The Lipskis continued to save Jewish children and early in 1943 sheltered Lola Lew, a Jewish girl who had escaped from the ghetto, in their apartment and passed her off as a relative whose parents had been arrested by the Germans. Although Lola looked Jewish, Danuta, the Lipskis’ daughter, would take walks with her in the street to cheer her up and dispel her feelings of loneliness. Lola remained in the Lipskis’ home, although they received no payment from her, and all the members of the family, out of purely humanitarian feelings, treated her with great devotion. After they were expelled from the city following the Warsaw Uprising in late summer 1944, the Lipskis continued to look after the girl they were sheltering and did not part from her until their liberation in January 1945. After the war, Lola emigrated from Poland to France … [6] During the occupation, Wladyslawa [Władysława] Marynowska worked as a children’s nursemaid in an orphanage for abandoned children named after the priest Boduen. Active in the underground and working in close cooperation with Irena Schultz, an underground activist who worked in the social affairs department of the city of Warsaw, Marynowska took advantage of her position in the orphanage to take in Jewish children in need of asylum under assumed identities, most of whom were sent from CENTOS children’s institution in the ghetto. Despite the constant danger to her life and the life of her young son, Marynowska did everything she could to safeguard the young children from the constant checks conducted by the Gestapo, who would periodically visit the orphanage and search for hidden Jewish children. Most of the charges left the orphanage after shelter was found for them with foster families in the city and outside it, in an operation that Marynowska participated in using her connections in the underground. The number of children who were saved thanks to Marynowska’s efforts is unknown, both because records were not kept and because the children who were saved left Poland after the war for localities all over the world.

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