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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 81 ] --

[2] After the German occupation of Lwow [Lwów] in the summer of 1941, 18-year-old Hana Landau escaped the antiJewish pogroms [carried out by Ukrainians] that erupted in the city, during which her parents and brothers were killed.

She went to the local church in the nearby village of Winniki, obtained Aryan papers made out in the name of her friend Czeslawa [Czesława] Bandalowska and returned under an assumed identity to Lwow. As she was known to be Jewish, however, she was arrested and interned in the Janowska concentration camp, but was later released after convincing the Germans that she was Christian. Armed with her Aryan papers, Hana subsequently moved to Cracow, where she obtained work.

[3] Edward Chadzynski [Chądzyński] worked for the Warsaw city administration in the public records department during the war. This position allowed him to provide Jews with false papers. He was also active in the Polish Resistance movements where one of his tasks was to organize false documents for underground activities. Edward also helped people who were in need of hiding places and for this he used his connections at work. … [Procuring false documents required the cooperation of many people. First one had to obtain a birth and baptismal certificate which was necessary to then fabricate an identity document and obtain a kennkarte. In this regard Chądzyński collaborated with the parish churches of the Blessed Virgin Mary on the New Market Square and St. Anthony on Senatorska Street. He also benefited from help of employees of the public records department of the city administration to obtain birth and marriage certificates.76] [4] Lucja [Łucja] Meister, followed by her brother, Bertold, escaped from the Przemysl [Przemyśl] ghetto, in the Rzeszow [Rzeszów] district, with the help of forged documents which their friend, 19-year-old Zofia Komperda, obtained for them.

Komperda arranged for Lucja to move in with her aunt, who lived in a village near the town of Przeworsk. However, when neighbors began suspecting that Lucja was Jewish, Komperda arranged for her to be transferred to a nearby village, where Lucja worked in a local school [as a teacher and lived in the parish rectory—she had converted earlier77] until the area was liberated in 1944.Although she survived the war, Lucja dies shortly thereafter [of typhus]. Komperda also arranged for Bertold Meister, Lucja’s brother, to stay with her parents. Her father, who was a picture restorer, taught Meitner the secrets of his trade, and employed him as an apprentice. Komperda also trained Meister as a land surveyor, and sent him to the nearby village of Wola Zglobienska [Zgłobieńska[, where he worked in his new profession until the area was liberated in 1944. After the war, Meister remained in Poland.

75 Grynberg, Księga sprawiedliwych, p.33.

76 Grynberg, Księga sprawiedliwych, p.75.

77 Dąbrowska, Światła w ciemności, pp.380–82.

223 [5] In 1943, during one of the Aktionen in the Bedzin [Będzin] ghetto in Upper Silesia, 13-year-old Alina Potok escaped from the transport and reached Warsaw. She made straight for the apartment of her parents’ acquaintances whose address she had. However, after a short stay, Alina was told to leave. During her stay at the acquaintances’s home, Alina got to know Leonard Glinski [Gliński], a member of the AK [Home Army]. When he heard that the acquaintance was planning to send Alina away or even hand her over to the authorities, Glinski beggd him to keep Alina for a few more days, during which time he managed to obtain Aryan papers for her, including school certificates, an identity card, and a birth certificate [from St. Casimir’s Church in Lwów78]. Since her age on these documents was 16, she was able under her assumed identity to register for work in Germany. Thanks to his ties with the underground, Glinski arranged for her to go to Vienna, where she worked with a doctor’s family with whom she stayed until the area was liberated. Throughout this time, Alina corresponded with Glinski.

[6] Pawel [Paweł] and Wladyslawa [Władysława] Kalisiewicz lived with their five children in the village of Jablon [Jabłoń] Zarzecka, in the county of Wysokie Mazowieckie, Bialystok [Białystok] district. In November 1942, five Jewish women—Perl Weisenberg, her daughters Yaffa and Nechama, and her two sisters, who had fled from the Wysokie Mazowieckie ghetto, arrived in the village. The Kalisiewczes were the only ones who agreed to shelter the five refugees.

[This implies at least that others in the village were aware of their presence.—Ed.] For the 22 months until the liberation, the Kalisiewiczes, at great personal risk, hid the five refugees in a small storehouse. Despite their straitened circumstances, Wladyslawa came each day to the hiding place to bring the refugees food. In their subsequent testimony, the survivors described their saviors’ warm and humane attitude toward them throughout their stay, despite the terrible tragedies they were experiencing at the time: Their son Waclaw [Wacław] was murdered by the Germans during a raid in the village while another son died of an illness. In her anguish, Wladyslawa turned to the local priest, asking him if the tragedies were a punishment for hiding Jews in her home. The priest reassured her that, on the contrary, God would reward her and her family for saving Jews. The Kaliszewiczes’ adult sons, Jozef [Józef] and Waclaw, also took an active part in the rescue operation. During one of the raids, the Germans ordered their nine-year-old son, Mieczyslaw [Mieczysław], at gunpoint to reveal the Jews’ hiding place, but the little boy refused to be intimidated. Later, one of the survivors wrote: “Despite their great suffering, they did not abandon us, and we never heard a sharp word from them.





They shared what little food they had with us, and watched out for our safety…” After the war, the survivors immigrated to Israel.

[7] Jozef [Józef] and Maria Kmiecinski [Kmieciński] lived in Vilna [Wilno], where their daughter, Sabina, studied at the local high school. One day a Jewish student joined her class—a Jewish boy called Ludwik Kupferblum (later Miedzinski [Miedziński]). He had come to Vilna from Warsaw in 1939 with his parents, Josef and Felicia, and his brother, Viktor, after the Germans invaded the city. … Together with the other young Jews, Ludwik and Viktor worked outside the ghetto, where they lived with their parents. Sabina would meet Ludwik and bring him food and she and her parents formulated a plan for getting his parents out. They obtained papers in the name of Miedzinski, and on the appointed evening at a specific time on their way to work Viktor and Ludwik led their parents outside and took them to the Kmiecinskis. That night, the whole family was taken by cart to Maria’s mother’s estate in the district of Swieciany [Święciany]. The family hid there until strangers turned up in the vicinity, at which point it was considered too dangerous and they were taken to friends of the Kmiecinskis, Wanda and Waclaw [Wacław] Kanczanin, who had an estate called Malinowka [Malinówka] near Kiemieliszki. Josef Kupferblum had cancer and Maria Kmiecinska’s sister, Jadwiga Bydelska, provided him with drugs but his condition worsened and he died. The problem of his burial was solved when the local priest in the parish of Kiemelin agreed to bury him in the Catholic cemetery at Kiemieliszki. The Kmiecinskis decided that it was too dangerous for Viktor, Ludwik, and Felicia to stay at Malinowka and took them to Maria’s sister, Helena Frackiewicz [Frąckiewicz], in Vilna. Helena arranged for Viktor to work as a janitor at the Dominican [Sisters’] monastery near Vilna. Ludwik joined the Polish army and managed to meet his brother in Lodz [Łódź].

[8] In January 1943, six-year-old Dana Wajnman’s elder brother smuggled her out of the Przeborz [Przedbórz] ghetto, in the Kielce district, and took her with him to Warsaw. Upon their arrival, Dana’s brother told her to enter a church and tell the priest that her parents had died in the war and that she had nowhere to go. The priest accompanied little Dana to the offices of the RGO [Rada Główna Opiekuńcza—a social welfare agency] where an RGO official, Stanislaw [Stanisław] Kornacki, questioned her. After she fearfully admitted that she was Jewish and told him her story, Kornacki, stirred to compassion, arranged for Dana to stay in an orphanage near Warsaw under an assumed identity, where he used to visit 78 Grynberg, Księga sprawiedliwych, p.151.

–  –  –

[9] In October 1942, during the first deportation from the Cracow ghetto, 12-year-old Anna Allerhand fled after her mother was taken to a death camp. … Anna had no choice but to return to Cracow where she turned to Salomea Kowalczyk, a seamstress who before the war had had business ties with her parents, who owned a fabricstore. Salomea, her husband, Stanislaw [Stanisław], and their sons, Czeslaw [Czesław], Jerzy, and Bronislaw [Bronisław], agreed to hide Anna in their home and did all they could to make her feel welcome. When the neighbors became suspicious, the Kowalczyks transferred Anna to a vegetable plot they owned outside the city, where she masqueraded as gardener and custodian. Meanwhile, the Kowalczyks continued looking for a safer place for Anna and finally arranged for her to stay with Helena Przebindowska, Salomea’s sister-in-law, who knew Anna’s parents. Przebindowska, a poor widow who lived with her three children in a one-room apartment, welcomed Anna, and she and her two daughters, Urszula and Miroslawa [Mirosława], who were let into the secret, treated Anna like one of the family. Przebindowska enlisted the help of the local priest to obtain Aryan papers for Anna and enrolled her in the local school. Meanwhile, a Polish friend of Anna’s parents paid Przebindowska for Anna’s upkeep from assets Anna’s mother had entrusted to her. … After the war, Anna’s father, an officer in the Polish army, returned from captivity, reclaimed his daughter, and took her with him to Israel.

[10] At first the relations during the occupation between Henry [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 hiding, Krueger continued to supply Mina with everything she needed, and when she was threatened by blackmailers he moved her to another apartment [and provided her with new identity documents based on a certificate obtained from Holy Cross Church in Warsaw79]. 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.

[11] In July 1942, a seven-month-old Jewish baby was left on the doorstep of the Leszczynski [Leszczyński] home, in the village of Rozki [Rożki] in the county of Krasnystaw, Lublin district. The Leszczynskis took the baby in and Sabina, one of the daughters, took responsibility for looking after it. Undeterred by the neighbors’ assertion that the entire village would be in danger if the police discovered the baby, Sabina looked after it devotedly, showered it with motherly love, and despite her family’s poverty saw to all its needs. The Jewish baby, who was christened Zygmunt Zolkiewski [Żółkiewski] in the local church, remained under Sabina’s care until July 1945 [sic, 1944], when the area was liberated. Shortly after the war, Mendel and Rivka Wajc, the boy’s parents, who had fled to the forests and joined the partisans, turned up at the Leszczynskis’ home. For reasons that were never clarified, the parents did not claim their child. … The Jewish child remained with Sabina and was later transferred to a Jewish children’s home near Lodz [Łódź].

[12] At the start of the German occupation of Poland, Laib Hersz [Leon] Grynberg, his wife, Ewa, and their daughter, Hanka [Chana, later Halina], fled from Warsaw and settled in Bialystok [Białystok], in Eastern Poland, which was annexed to the Soviet Union. The Germans subsequently occupied Eastern Poland in June 1941. In February 1943, Grynberg managed to smuggle his daughter out of the local ghetto and, with the help of Polish acquaintances [Michał and Jadwiga Skalski, who took Hanka in for several weeks and taught her Catholic prayers and rituals so that she could pass for a Polish orphan], transferred her to the nearby town of Suraż. Klemens and Zofia Leszczynski [Leszczyński] and their son. Jozef [Józef], agreed to take in ten-year-old Hanka without any preconditions or payment. They represented Hanka to neighbors as a Polish orphan from Warsaw, but in due course it was rumoured that the Leszczynskis were sheltering a Jewish girl. [When the Leszczynskis learned that Hanka was Jewish, at first they were terrified, but after discussing the matter with their priest, they decided to continue looking after her. Hanka was secretly baptized, and then 79 Grynberg, Księga sprawiedliwych, p.273.

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