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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 82 ] --

[13] One night during the occupation, nine-year-old Helena Tygier knocked on the door of Rozalia Lojszczyk [Łojszczyk], who lived with her three children in the village of Bukowa Stara, some 35 kilometers from Warsaw. Exhausted and grimy, Helena related how she had left her parents in the Warsaw ghetto and, at her mothers [sic] bidding, had escaped to seek shelter with Lojszczyk’s mother, an old acquaintance of hers. Since Lojszczyk’s mother had already passed away, Lojszczyk took Helena into her home, where she looked after her devotedly. Helena made occasional forays into the ghetto to bring her parents food. After a tip-off to the authorities, German soldiers turned up at Lojszczyk’s home in January 1944 searching for the Jewish refugee. When she saw them entering the farmyard, Lojszczyk thrust a pail of milk into Helena’s hand and pushed her out of the door. The Germans took no notice of her, thinking she was a local dairymaid, and when they failed to find the girl they were looking for, they left. Since it was far too dangerous for Helena to continue staying with Lojszczyk, Lojszczyk arranged for her to stay with her brother, who lived in the neighboring village and agreed to shelter her. Lojszczyk also obtained a baptism certificate from the local priest, which enabled her to find work in the flour mill. Helena stayed with Lojszczyk’s brother until January 1945, when the area was liberated.

[14] Immediately after the war began, Izabela Malinowska, who lived in Vilna [Wilno], rushed to the aid of the Jewish refugees who began thronging to her for help. Taking advantage of her close acquaintance with numerous officials in municipal institutions, she helped the Jewish refugees by giving them advice and guidance. Malinowska worked in a coffee house that served as a rendezvous point for Jewish refugees and it was there that she met Efraim Jakiri. The two became friends and eventually fell in love. Jakiri moved into Malinowska’s house, located in a suburb of the city. When the Germans occupied Vilna [in June 1941], Jakiri tried to flee from the city with the retreating Red Army but was unsuccessful. He returned to Vilna and was confined in the ghetto set up there. All the while, Malinowska helped by supplying him with food parcels when he arrived daily at the city’s military base where he worked. Thanks to her acquaintance with the local priest, Malinowska managed to procure Aryan papers for Jakiri and took him back into her home after he fled from his place of employment. His presence in her home aroused the ire of the neighbors and Malinowska was forced to find Jakiri a safer place to hide. She was helped by a friend, a member of the Polish underground, who moved Jakiri to relatives of his who lived in the village of Kobylniki, near Lake Narocz. There he was represented as a student in need of country air because of the tuberculosis from which he suffered. In 1943, Jakiri joined the partisans. He was wounded in battle and after the liberation married Malinowska and they moved to an area within the new Polish borders.

[15] In the summer of 1941, Olga Jospa and her parents were deported from their home town of Husiatyn, in the Tarnopol district. After much suffering and hardship, the three Jewish fugitives arrived in the ghetto of Kopyczynce [Kopyczyńce], from which they fled just before its liquidation in early 1943. While they were still in the ghetto, Aniela Malkiewicz [Małkiewicz] approached the Jospa family, for whom she had done housework from the year 1928, and without asking for any payment expressed her willingness to help them in any way she could. When they left the ghetto, the Jospa family came to Malkiewicz, who at first hid them in the attic of the local church. She subsequently moved them to a number of other hiding places in the surrounding villages. Despite the danger posed to her life, Malkiewicz continued to care for the three Jewish refugees until the liberation of the area in the summer of 1944.

[16] Dr. Maria Mantel was the wife of a Polish officer of Jewish ancestry who was murdered at Katyn in the [1940 Soviet] massacre of Polish prisoners of war. Mantel, who lived in Warsaw and ran a private medical clinic in her home, invited her mother-in-law, Karola Mantel, 70, who until then had been hiding in various places in and around the city, to come live with her. Despite the danger to her life, Dr. Mantel took care of her mother-in-law, nursed her, and provided for all her needs. Because of the many patients that visited her clinic in the house, Dr. Mantel feared that the elderly woman’s identity would be revealed. After a few months, Dr. Mantel moved her mother-in-law to an institution run by priests in the city of Minsk-Mazowiecki [Mińsk Mazowiecki], where she remained until the Red Army liberated the area in August 1944.

80 Grynberg, Księga sprawiedliwych, p.306; Halina Grubowska, Haneczko, musisz przeżyć (Montreal: Polish-Jewish Heritage Foundation), pp.62–64.

226 [17] After the Jews of Warsaw were ordered to move into the ghetto, Abram and Felicia Gwiazda decided to seek refuge in one of the villages in the area of Otwock, near Warsaw. The situation worsened, and when Felicia Gwiazda was about to give birth, Katarzyna Monko [Mońko], the local midwife, was called in to help her. She determined that the conditions of the hideout could pose a danger to the lives of both the mother and child. Although she knew that Gwiazda was Jewish, she offered to hide her in her home, where she lived with her son and daughter-in-law, Mieczyslaw [Mieczysław] and Aniela.





Gwiazda gave birth to a little girl in the home of the Monko family, and after it became clear that it was impossible for them to return to the hiding place, Gwiazda decided in desperation to abandon her baby in the train station. Monko expressed her firm opposition to this idea, and with the support of the local priest decided to keep the little girl and care for her until after the war. The little Jewish girl remained in the home of the Monko family, who treated her with devotion.

After Monko died, her son and daughter-in-law continued to care for and raise the child. Eventually, a German soldier took the child with him to an army camp, where she was given over to a Polish woman, with the intention of bringing her to Germany. The Polish woman decided to flee from the camp and adopt the little girl as her own. However, Mieczyslaw and Aniela Monko kept track of the child, and after the war, when her biological parents arrived at the Monko home to reclaim their daughter, the Monkos gave them the address of the Polish woman. She refused to give them their daughter back, but thanks to the testimony in court of Mieczyslaw Monko and his wife, the child was finally returned to her parents. The family eventually immigrated to Israel … [18] Rosalia Werdinger met Boleslaw [Bolesław] Muchowski before the war at his place of work in the city of Drohobycz, in the Lwow [Lwów] district, and in time their friendship turned into love. After the attacks against the Jews began following the German occupation of the area, Boleslaw took Werdinger to his brother, Zygmunt Muchowski, who lived in the village of Dziewule in Siedlce county, while he himself rented an apartment in the nearby town of Lukow [Łuków].

Zygmunt took Rosalia under his wing and hid her in his home in the village, and after he obtained Aryan papers for her in the name of a deceased relative [based on a baptismal certificate he obtained from the Basilica of the Sacred Heart in Warsaw81], he took her to Lukow, where his brother Boleslaw was waiting for her. In Lukow, Boleslaw introduced Rosalia as his wife. Together with Soviet partisans active in the underground in the area, Zygmunt Muchowski continued to extend his assistance to Jews in need … After the war, Boleslaw married Rosalia and they remained in Poland.

[19] During the occupation, Bronislaw [Bronisław] Nietyksza worked in the manpower department of the city of Warsaw.

He was also active in the underground organization that found hiding places and procured false documents for those persecuted by the occupation authorities. In this capacity, Nietyksza was approached by Jews who escaped from the ghetto, whom he also helped. Nietyksza had an arrangement with two Catholic priests in Warsaw, who agreed not to publish the names of all the newly deceased in their churches so that their identity cards could be adapted for use by Jews hiding on the Aryan side of Warsaw. Netyksza supplied more than ten Jews with false papers in this way before the Germans discovered what he was doing. They arrested him on May 24, 1944, and sent him to the Stutthof concentration camp, from which he escaped during the evacuation of the camp.

[20] In September 1942, Lea Wicner’s [Leah or Lucia Weitzner] mother [Gusta] shoved the 12-year-old out of the railroad car that was transporting the Jews of Hnizdyczow [Hnizdyczów]-Kochawina [near Żydaczów] (Lwow [Lwów] district) to the Belzec [Bełżec] extermination camp. Wicner returned to her village, where she joined up with an uncle [Mundek Feldman] who had [avoided] the transport [and was hidden by the Wohański family82]. With his assistance, she obtained Aryan papers [from a Polish priest83] with which she was able to reach Stary Sambor, where she went to the home of Feliks and Stefania Plauszewski, who were acquainted with her family. The Plauszewskis took Wicner in like a member of the family, taking care of her and not disclosing her Jewish origin to anyone, including their children. In early 1943 [1944?], the Polish residents of Stary Sambor were expelled to the west. The Plauszewskis, together with Wicner, reached Tarnobrzeg (on the Vistula River), but since Poles from Wicner’s village had also been expelled to this area, it was feared that her identity would be revealed. Thus, the Plauszewskis decided to move Wicner to the home of Stefania Gos [Goś], Feliks’s sister, in Sobieska Wola (Lublin district). Gos and her husband, Edward, like the Plauszewskis, treated Wicner as affectionately and devotedly as a daughter until the area was liberated in July 1944. The two Polish families 81 Grynberg, Księga sprawiedliwych, p.363.

82 Gutman and Bender, The Encyclopedia of the Righteous Among the Nations, vol. 5: Poland, Part 2, p.879.

83

Judy Labensohn, “A Real Survivor,” Jerusalem Post, May 1, 2000, Internet:

http://info.jpost.com/2000/Supplements/Holocaust/Holocaust.6023.html: “With the help of a Polish priest who ran the local orphanage, Feldman arranged for Leah Weitzner to become Helena Lachovich [Lachowicz].” According to this article, Leah Wietzner was born in Lwów and was the only child of a judge in the Polish government who died when she was five. She grew up at her grandfather’s estate in Kochawina, a village outside Lwów.

227 risked their lives to rescue Wicner purely for humanitarian reasons, without remuneration. After the war, Lea Wicner moved to Israel and stayed in touch with her rescuers’ children.

[21] In 1941, before Irena Weksztein’s parents were deported from Czestochowa [Częstochowa] to a forced labor camp, they found a way to make contact with Kamilla Pelc, who, motivated by her love of humanity and without asking for or receiving any remuneration, agreed to take their two-year-old daughter under her wing. Pelc, a war widow, lived with her son, Karol, and risked her life to smuggle young Irena into her apartment and obtain Aryan papers for her [from a priest who agreed to forge a birth certificate for Irena84]. She represented Irena Weksztein to curious neighbors as her niece and cared for her as if she were her own. Over time, Irena grew very attached to Pelc and her son, looking upon them as her mother and brother. Despite the many dangers they encountered, Irena remained in their home until the liberation in January 1945. After the war, Irena’s parents, who survived the war, came to take her with them. Because the young girl had become so attached to her adopted family, she refused to accept her real parents. Her refusal was so intense that they had to leave the girl with Pelc for a few more months. Irena eventually emigrated with her parents to France and kept in touch with Pelc for many years.

[22] In March 1943, after the liquidation of the Cracow ghetto, Mr. and Mrs. Kardisz continued to work in the Optima factory on the Aryan side of the city, hiding their two children, Rena and Romek, in the factory as well. There, they met Rozalia Poslawska [Posławska], the wife of Boleslaw Poslawski [Bolesław Posławski], a minor factory official. The Kardiszes felt that they could trust Posławska and told her about their two children hiding in the factory. The story touched Posławska, who had three children of her own, and she offered to hide the children in her home unconditionally. She told them she had connections with a Polish underground organization that helped Jews and if necessary could ask the organization for financial help to care for the children. Mr. and Mrs. Kardisz were eventually deported to a concentration camp and their two children remained with the Posławski family. One day, a Polish neighbor happened to discover that the Posławskis were hiding two Jewish children in their home and attempted to blackmail them. Posławska refused to pay what he asked and he informed on them to the authorities. Posławska was arrested with young Romek, but his sister, Rena, managed to escape and hide in a church. Posławska was thrown in prison and tortured and only thanks to the confusion caused by the approaching front was she able to escape from prison and hide. Romek was murdered, but his sister, Rena, was returned to the Posławski family by the priest who discovered her presence in the church. Of the parents, who had been deported to Bergen-Belsen, only the mother, Ester Kardisz, remained alive. … Kardisz came to them sick and exhausted and they cared for her as if she were a member of the family and helped her and her daughter Rena to get back on their feet. Kardisz and her daughter eventually immigrated to Israel … [23] Stefan Raczynski [Raczyński], who lived with his family in the village of Wegelina in the Vilna [Wilno] district, was superficially acquainted with Jews in the nearby town of Niemczyn. In September 1941, after the massacre perpetrated by the Germans and Lithuanians against the local Jews, Jewish fugitives began turning up at Raczynski’s home asking for help. Stefan and his family helped the Jewish refugees to the best of their ability and provided them with food and a temporary hiding place. Stefan’s mother even looked after a baby whom a Jewish woman had abandoned on her doorstep.



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