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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 ...»

-- [ Page 54 ] --

Somehow I managed to get through to Gora Kalwaria. I went to my neighbor, Mrs. Wasilewska. She immediately started to plan what to do. We went to Osieck [town 15 km of Gora Kalwaria] together, to a parish priest, Kuropek [Rev. Stefan Ścibiorek] was his name I think. He issued a birth certificate for me. Later I got myself a kenkarta, in the name Feliks Zoladek [Żołądek]. You had to do it with the help of friends and friends of friends. Because the priest gave me the certificate, but not the kenkarta, naturally. A friend took the certificate, went to one of those doing funny business [people who fabricated false IDs], and had them make me a kenkarta, that’s how it was done. It wasn’t legal.

I lived in the country, staying with different farmers and tailoring for them. One told some other he knew a tailor, and so I kept going from one person to another. Some of them knew I was a Jew, they figured it out, but well, I did survive. I stayed in one village, returned to another, kept in hiding for some time, had to run away on another occasion, one was always looking for a safe house.

I’ve been exceptionally lucky. They told me: ‘Heniek, you don't look like a Jew at all.’ I also spoke correct Polish, more or less, I mean I had the right accent, because as for the grammar a peasant wouldn’t notice. I could quite safely assume I wouldn’t be recognized by anyone. Plus I was a soldier, I was brave. That’s why I took risks, I probably wouldn’t otherwise, just like many others. You can’t imagine, you could be killed any time, and not just you, but also the person harboring you. [On 15th October 1941 the death penalty for hiding a Jew was introduced in the General Government.]… My longest single stay was in the village Podwierzbie near Zelechow [Żelechów, Podłęż community, Garwolin district] with a Mrs. [Katarzyna] Pokorska. She was an acquaintance or a cousin of Mrs. Wasilewska [Mr. Prajs’ neighbor]. Many 150 decent people lived there generally, the Pyz family for example, the Polak family, the Marciniaks. Even the head of the village protected me. And as for the villagers, some did and some did not believe that I was a Pole. Not once did they later tell me, after the end of the war: ‘It made us think, you lived here, it’s a poor house, and nobody came to see you, you didn’t leave for Christmas; we eyed you, a nice looking boy.’ They didn't know what to think.

I went to the dances once, but later decided not to go anymore, because I was afraid. I went to the church once, too, but was afraid someone would recognize me as well. But nobody gave me away, simply Godsend. I went to that church after the war and ordered a thanksgiving mess for all the villagers.

I’m not surprised people didn’t want to hide Jews. Everyone was afraid, who would risk his family’s lives? You can accuse the ones who kept a Jew, exploited him financially, and later gave him away or killed him. They’re murderers. But you absolutely can’t blame an average Pole, I don’t know if anyone would be more decent, if any Jew would be more decent.

The following are some examples from Warsaw. (Gutman and Bender, The Encyclopedia of the Righteous Among the Nations, volumes 4 and 5: Poland, Part 1, p.405, and Part 2, pp.722–23.) [1] At first the relations during the occupation between Henrk [Henryk] Krueger, a resident of Warsaw, and his friends interned in the local ghetto were completely businesslike. But the humanitarian values imbued in Krueger soon induced him to help the needy and the persecuted, at great risk to his own life and without receiving any payment. He supplied food to his acquaintances in the ghetto, such as Halina Wald and the Frydman family, but in the summer of 1942 when the big Aktion began in Warsaw in which the ghetto’s Jews were taken to Treblinka, he felt compelled to do more to save their lives. He managed to get into the ghetto, which was more closely guarded at the time, bringing Aryan papers in his pockets. He gave these to 20-year-old Mina Frydman and accompanied her to an apartment he had prepared to shelter her on the Aryan side of the city. While she was in hiding, Krueger continued to supply Mina with everything she needed, and when she was threatened by blackmailers he moved her to another apartment. [He secured new identity documents for her based on a certificate he obtained from Holy Cross church in Warsaw.57] She remained there until the late summer of 1944 and after the Warsaw Uprising was taken, with her borrowed identity, to forced labor in Germany, where she was liberated by the Allied armies.

[2] Before the war, the Sliwczynskis [Śliwczyńskis], from the town of Mlawa [Mława] in the Warsaw district, lived on the same street as Ella Zlotnik [Złotnik] (later Perkiel), who was in the same class as one of the Sliwczynski girls. During the occupation, the two families moved to Warsaw, where the Zlotniks were interned in the ghetto. In 1943, when Ela [sic] and her father hid on the Aryan side of the city, the ties between the two families were renewed and Ella and the Sliwczynski’s son, Jerzy, met frequently. In 1944, after the Gestapo arrested Ella’s father, Ella had to change her identity and disappear. Jerzy helped her by arranging a temporary hiding place for her outside the city and obtained new Aryan papers for her. When Ella returned to Warsaw, she stayed with Sliwczynski until the Warsaw Uprising in August 1944.





When the Germans arrested Jerzy, Ella stayed with his father, Tadeusz Sliwczynski, until after the war, when she emigrated to the United States. The Sliwczynskis helped other Jews from the town of Mlawa who hid on the Aryan side of Warsaw, including the Makowskis, the Kleniecs, Celina Czech, and Biezunska [Bieżuńska]. Despite the danger, the Sliwczynskis considered it their human duty to help their Jewish friends and never expected anything in return. [They were able to obtain false Kennkarte for these Jews based on birth and baptismal certificates issued by Rev. Dudziński of St. Charles Borromeo parish in the Powązki district of Warsaw.58] Guta Tyrangiel (later Genevieve Tyrangiel-Benezra) was born on August 26, 1940, one day after the establishment of the ghetto in Mińsk Mazowiecki. When the Germans liquidated the ghetto in August 1942, Guta’s parents managed to escape with Guta and her younger sister Esther. They hid in the surrounding villages and then moved to a labour camp named Kopernikus where the danger to their lives seemed less immediate. Their young daughters were hidden in the attic of a building because it was forbidden for children to live in the camp.

Guta and her sister were smuggled out of the camp in a closed wicker basket in October 1942. A local Catholic priest named Hert (?), who worked with the Żegota organization, and a notary supplied them with false baptismal certificates and made arrangements for them to be cared for by different Polish families. Guta was entrusted to Józef and Bronisława Jaszczuk, a childless Polish couple who lived in Mińsk Mazowiecki. They presented her as

57 Grynberg, Księga sprawiedliwych, p.273.58 Grynberg, Księga sprawiedliwych, p.558.

151 their niece, Genowefa Filipiak. Guta survived the war, but her parents and younger sister did not. (Guta Tyrangiel Benezra, Mémoire bariolée; Poetic Paintings; Głosy przeszłości: Post-Shoah peintures, poèmes, récits [Ottawa

and New York: Legas, 1995]; United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, Internet: http://www.ushmm.org/uiacgi/uia_doc/query/18?uf=uia_EFzQiM; Guta Tyrangiel Benezra, Internet:

http://www.chgs.umn.edu/museum/responses/benezra/; Polish Righteous Among the Nations Jozef and Bronislawa Jaszczuk, Internet: http://yad-vashem.org.il/righteous_new/events/righteous_jaszczuk.html;

Gutman and Bender, The Encyclopedia of the Righteous Among the Nations, volume 4: Poland, Part 1, p.308.) In August 1942, after the liquidation of the Minsk [Mińsk] Mazowiecki ghetto in the Warsaw district and the transfer of most of its inmates to the Treblinka death camp, the Tyrangel couple arranged a hiding place for their two baby daughters while they themselves found shelter with a peasant family in a nearby village. The girls’ hosts, fearing for their safety, enlisted the help of the parish priest to transfer Guta Tyrangel to the Jaszczuks, who lived in Minsk Mazowiecki. The other girl was sent to another family, where all traces of her were lost. The girls’ parents perished, and only Guta survived, thanks to the devoted care of Jozef [Józef] and Bronislawa [Bronisława] Jaszczuk, who saw to all her needs. … After the war, the Jaszczuks adopted little Guta, who later emigrated to Canada.

The risks inherent in providing false documents are illustrated by the following account of Maria Rajbenbach, a Jewish woman who escaped from the Warsaw ghetto just before the outbreak of the uprising on April 19, 1943.

(Bartoszewski and Lewin, Righteous Among Nations, p.233.) How did we obtain our documents? A brother of the painter [Marian] Malicki was employed, together with his wife [Maria], at the Record Office of the Municipal Administration. Together with a parson [from the cathedral parish of St.

John the Baptist] they had forged both the death and birth registers to secure Christian birth certificates of two deceased women. Thus several people had to collaborate to prepare such certificates. The Malickis had supplied numerous Jews with such certificates. Unfortunately, one of these Jews was identified by the Gestapo and in this way the names of the three people became known to them. The parson was shot dead, the Malickis were sent to Treblinka [actually it was Majdanek] concentration camp and Malicki had his arms and legs broken in an attempt to extort the names of other rescued Jews. But he would not give them away. Both perished in Treblinka camp. [Actually, Mrs. Malicka survived.]59 A number of Jewish children were sheltered by the Sisters of St. Elizabeth, who had been displaced from Grabie near Toruń and relocated to Świder, now a part of Otwock, a town near Warsaw, where they ran a home for children known as the Educational Institute of St. Anthony (Zakład Wychowawczy św. Antoniego—“Promyk”).

The children were given false identities and supporting birth and baptismal certificates were issued by Rev. Canon Ludwik Wolski, the pastor of St. Vincent de Paul parish in Otwock. Three and of the nuns—Sister Gertruda (Stanisława) Marciniak, the Mother Superior, Sister Ludwika Małkiewicz, and Sister Krystyna Bykowska—as

well as Rev. Ludwik Wolski were recognized by Yad Vashem as Righteous Gentiles. Among their charges were:

Dan Landsberg (Daniel Lancberg), passing as Wojciech Płochowski; Maria (Marysia) Osowiecka, passing as Halina Brzoza; Ruth (Rutka) Noy, passing as Teresa Wysocka; Alfred Karol (Leopold Blitzylberg); and Jurek Adin. Their stories are set out below.

The family of Max Noy survived the war with the assistance of a number of Poles, among them a priest and the Sisters of St. Elizabeth in Otwock who sheltered their daughter Ruth. (Gutman and Bender, The Encyclopedia of the Righteous Among the Nations, volume 4: Poland, Part 1, pp.485–86.) Raizel Noy of Otwock, near Warsaw, gave birth to her daughter Ruth in September 1939, after the German occupation began. In August 1942, during the large-scale deportation of Jews from Warsaw, the Noys managed to escape from the ghetto with their young daughter. Maks Noy, Raizel’s husband, worked in a labor camp run by a German contracting company in the nearby town of Karczew; Raizel and her daughter wandered in the vicinity with no hope of finding shelter.

Because she looked Jewish, Raizel experienced constant tension and fear of the lurking dangers that she and her daughter faced. Aware that the likelihood of her survival was dwindling, Raizel decided to spare no effort to at least to save Ruth. At his workplace, Noy made contact with Ludwika Malkiewicz [Małkiewicz], a Catholic nun who taught at the Otwock 59 Bartoszewski and Lewin, Righteous Among Nations, p.235 (annotation); Bartoszewski and Lewinówna, Ten jest z ojczyzny mojej, 2nd ed., p.544 (annotation).

152 convent orphanage, and asked her to rescue his daughter. Malkiewicz consulted with Krystyna Bykowska, the mother superior [this is inaccurate: the mother superior was Sister Gertruda Marciniak], and the two agreed to admit the girl. In coordination with Malkiewicz and Bykowska, Ruth was left in the convent corridor one night and when she began to cry— alone and in the dark—the nuns came out and brought her inside. Little Ruth was placed with the Polish children and the nuns cared for her devotedly. Sisters Malkiewicz and Bykowska performed this act of rescue as a human duty flowing from their deep religious faith and sought no recompense for it even though it endangered their lives. Maks Noy eventually escaped from his labor camp and he and Raizel found shelter in Praga, Warsaw, in an apartment they rented from Wladyslawa [Władysława] Cygler. Although Cygler knew they were Jews, she prepared a hideout for them in case of danger and sheltered them from inquisitive neighbors. The only person who knew their address was Sister Malkiewicz, who, in the summer of 1944—five weeks before Praga was liberated—brought Ruth to them because a child in the orphanage had threatened denunciation. After the war, the Noys immigrated to the United States ….

Max Noy provides the following testimony in Kurek, Your Life Is Worth Mine, at pages 218–20.

During the German occupation, I worked in the Otwock ghetto as a guard.

One day Sister Ludwika Malkiewicz [Małkiewicz] came to me with a piece of paper from the Germans stating that she would be getting some furniture. I don’t remember the precise details but she needed ten beds. … I told the sister to take as many beds as she wanted … Soon our conversation turned around to my family. I told her I had a daughter. At first I feared revealing where Ruth was hiding, but finally I told her that she was in Otwock with relatives, but that it wasn’t a permanent arrangement and that is why I would like for her to be in an orphanage. At that time my wife was staying with an acquaintance of hers, a Polish woman.



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