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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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Thanks to her rescue work, her home became known as “the home of Abraham the Patriarch.” In 1942, Raczynski became acquainted with Shoshana Dezent, a young Jewish woman from Vilna who was hiding under an assumed identity in the surrounding villages and working in peasants’ homes as a casual laborer. Dezent, who had lived in a town all her life, found it hard to adapt to village life. Fearing for her safety, Raczynski decided to protect her and whenever she was in difficulties arranged for her to stay with acquaintances of his in the nearby villages. In the spring of 1944, armed Polish nationalists, suspecting Dezent of being Jewish, attacked her and beat her almost to death. Raczynski immediately summoned the local priest, who testified that Dezent was not Jewish, thereby saving her life. Following this incident, Raczynski took Dezent home and looked after her until the area was liberated. After the war, Raczynski … married Dezent.

In 1960, the Raczynskis immigrated to Israel with their two children.

[24] In 1943, Mariam Feier placed her four-year-old daughter, Warda, in a Polish children’s home in Warsaw. A priest who worked in the home, realizing that Warda was Jewish, feared for her safety, since German policemen frequently came to inspect the home looking for Jewish children. The priest turned to his friend, Teofilia Rauch, who lived with her daughter [in] Zalesie, not far from Warsaw, and asked her to take Warda in. Rauch agreed and, for almost two years, looked after Warda and saw to all her needs as if she were her own daughter. After the war, Mariam Feier returned from 84 “Karol Pelc: Surviving the Holocaust,” Michigan Tech News, January 26, 2001 (vol. 33, no. 19), Internet:

http://www.admin.mtu.edu/urel/breaking/2001/pelc.html; reprinted from The U.P. Catholic, January 5, 2001.

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[25] During the occupation, Jan and Wladyslawa [Władysława] Smolko [Smółko] were AK [Home Army] activists who lived in the town of Tykocin in the Bialystok [Białystok] district. In his official capacity as organist and registrar at the local church, Smolko had access to the birth and death registries [which allowed them to provide documents to Jews85]. In January 1943, before the first Aktion in the Bialystok ghetto, Michael Turek and his brother, Menachem, were smuggled out of the ghetto by a Polish acquaintance who hid them temporarily in his home. The Smolkos, after being approached by the acquaintance, took the Turek brothers in, provided them with Aryan papers, and supported them financially for about a year and a half, until the liberation. [The Smolkos also helped four members of the Goldzin family survive.] [26] Before the occupation, Ela Pleszewska, an attorney, and Henryk Sosnowski, a judge in Cracow, were colleagues.

Already in September 1939, when the Germans occupied the city, Sosnowski foresaw the danger threatening the Jews and, guided by humanitarian principles, hid Pleszewska in his apartment. Since Pleszewska was known in Cracow, where she had many acquaintances and former clients, Sosnowski, fearing informers, asked his friend the priest for help. The priest, without even seeing Pleszewska, drew up an official document stating that Sosnowski and Pleszewska were husband and wife. Sosnowski and Pleszewska left Cracow, but fearing discovery despite possession of the document kept constantly on the move. Unemployed and with no fixed source of income, Sosnowski nevertheless managed to smuggle food into the Cracow ghetto for his “wife’s” family and helped some of them escape to the Aryan side of the city. Destitute, and persecuted both by the authorities and extortionists, the Sosnowskis were liberated in January 1945, after which they returned to Cracow and resumed their careers. Pleszewska died in Poland in 1965.

[27] Janina Straszewska and her daughter, Teresa, lived in Cracow. They met Ludwika Liebeskind in late 1941, when the inhabitants of the ghetto were sent to work outside the ghetto. In the summer of 1942, Liebeskind asked Straszewska to place Gizela Szwarc, her five-year-old niece, in hiding in her apartment. Straszewska agreed, sought no remuneration, and offered to shelter Liebeskind too. Straszewska provided the Jewish girl with a certificate of baptism and Liebeskind with a forged birth certificate. [They obtained the documents from a priest they knew in an outlying village.86] After a while, Liebeskind found a way to move her mother and sister from the Plaszow [Płaszów] camp and, with Straszewska’s assistance, found them asylum in a rented apartment in town. Because her facial features left no doubt about her Jewishness, Liebeskind was arrested one day while riding the streetcar. Although she escaped and returned to the Straszewskas’ home, she was afraid to go outside from then on. Teresa, active in a Resistance movement, provided Liebeskind with a forged Kennkarte (identity card). Liebeskind and her niece, Szwarc, stayed in Straszewska’s home until the liberation in January 1945.

[28] During the war, Jozef [Józef] and Antonina Szewc, along with their seven children and Jozef’s parents, lived in the village of Niedzieliska in the Zamosc [Zamość] district, where Jozef acted as the village elder. In late 1940, following the closure of the Warsaw ghetto, Fraida Rozental (later Cukier), who was then 16, found her way to Jozef’s home. She possessed papers in the name of Irena Kiel. Jozef and his family sheltered her in their home. In May 1942, Jozef obtained a birth certificate for her that was confirmed by the local priest [the pastor of Wielącza] in the name of Halina Byk. These papers enabled Frieda to work in Germany for the remainder of the war. Jozef’s wife, Antonina, as well as his parents, Marcin and Zofia, were also helpful. “Marcin Szewc even mailed a couple of letters to me in Germany,” wrote Fraida Cukier in her testimony to Yad Vashem. After the war, she returned to Poland and remained there.

[29] Before the war and until 1942, Teofila and Stefan Szwajkajzer, along with their nine children, lived in the village of Zymodry, near Kurzeniec, in the Vilna [Wilno] district. One day in 1941, the priest of Stara Wilejka asked Teofila to shelter a young Jewish girl named Czeslawa [Czesława] Czertok (later Czerenia) from Vilna. Czeslawa, aged 17, had remained alone in occupied Vilna. All of her family had been murdered in Ponary. Czeslawa had escaped from Vilna and after numerous experiences had found herself in Stara Wilejka and was completely at a loss as to where she could turn for 85 Grynberg, Księga sprawiedliwych, p.497. The Jewish courier Maryla Różycka, who was based in Białystok, confirmed the assistance provided by Monsignor Adam Abramowicz, pastor of Our Lady Queen of Poland (NMP Królowej Polski) Parish, later renamed after St.

Roch. Rev. Abramowicz helped shelter Jews and provided them with false birth certificates. See Tadeusz Krahel, “Ksiądz prałat Adam Abramowicz,” Czas Miłosierdzia: Białostocki Biuleltyn Kościelny, no. 2, February 2003.

86 Grynberg, Księga sprawiedliwych, p.516.

229 help. Thus she turned to the local priest, who kept her for a couple of weeks until he found shelter for her at the home of a large and devoutly Catholic family—the Szwajkajzers of Zymodry. Three of the children, Wanda, Zbigniew, and Ewa, knew about Czeslawa’s true identity. Together with their parents, they cared for her needs and safety. Zymodry, the head of the family obtained a document from the local municipality of Kurzeniec “proving” that Czeslawa was their relative. … In the fall of 1942, when the Szwajkajzers moved to Kurzeniec, Czeslawa was detained because of an informer. In an attempt to release her, Zbigniew went to the police. Before he arrived, Czeslawa was lucky to flee and reach the home of Zbigniew’s sister, Wanda. Wanda was a teacher and rented a room with a peasant family. Through Wanda, Czeslawa contacted the partisans and joined their ranks, fighting until the liberation of the area in 1944.

[30] Danuta Wolikowska (née Malinowska) was raised in Luck [Łuck] (in Volhynia), where she graduated from the Tadeusz Kosciuszki [Kościuszko] state gymnasium, where she befriended a Jewish girl named Ida Dekelbaum (later Landsberg). In early 1941, Danuta’s father was deported to Siberia. One June 21, 1941, Danuta went to Lwow [Lwów] to meet Ida, who was studying there. That very day, the German-Soviet war broke out and Lwow was bombarded. The girls decided to return to their family homes. Since all communication was cut off, they started out by foot towards Volhynia.

They walked for five days but did not reach their hometown. In this situation they came to the conclusion that Ida had to conceal her origins, so she tore up her papers and threw them away. Danuta and Ida then managed to get to Wlodzimierz Wolynski [Włodzimierz Wołyński], where Danuta’s mother was living. … Ida went into the ghetto. Danuta, however, began to work in the regional office where she managed to get papers for Ida, which allowed her to leave the ghetto and look for a way to earn some money outside the ghetto walls. In 1942, rumors spread about the liquidation of the ghettos. Danuta decided to hide Ida in her own rented apartment. There, she fed her friend and took care of all her needs. When the liquidation of the ghetto began, she decided to take Ida out of town altogether. One day she drove a carriage near the house dressed as a local girl. She dressed Ida in the same manner and together they drove out of town. They reached the village where Danuta’s mother worked as a teacher and Danuta introduced Ida as her relative and arranged a place for her to stay, leaving her under the care of the trusted school janitor but without telling him of her real origin. Danuta visited Ida often, bringing her food and clothing; at the same time, she continued to tell the locals that Ida was her relative. She also arranged to obtain proper documents for Ida through the local priest. Towards the end of 1943, Danuta reached the conclusion that due to the anti-Polish sentiments of the local Ukrainian population, Ida should leave the village. She gave her the address of friends in the Kielce area and sent her on her way with a group of Polish refugees. Ida got to Kielce, where she safely awaited liberation while working as a teacher in a nearby village. Throughout this entire period, Danuta’s messengers maintained contact with Ida.

[31] During the war, Jozefa Woloszynska [Józefa Wołoszyńska] lived with her family in Kowel, Volhynia. The family had moved to Kowel in 1933 when Jozefa’s husband took a job in the local post office. During the occupation, the Woloszynskis’ house was close to the ghetto. In July 1942, when an Aktion began in the ghetto, Bronia Eckhaus, along with her one-year-old son, hid in a hideout on a roof together with a dozen or so other Jews. At nightfall, Bronia climbed down from the roof with her son and they hid for a few days in a ransacked, empty house. When she thought that the Aktion was over, she left the hideout. She went into a church where she met a priest who fed her and advised her to look for shelter in the neighboring villages. He even gave her names of Polish and Ukrainian villages. Bronia took his advice and wandered from village to village carrying the child in her arms until she arrived in the village of Elizarow [Elizarów or Olizarów]. There, she met a woman from Kowel, Josefa [sic] Woloszynska, who had come there to buy food. Jozefa immediately recognized that Bronia was Jewish. She gave Bronia her address in Kowel and Bronia came there a few times whenever her situation became desperate. She was warmly received and Jozefa always fed her and offered her advice. In March 1943 Jozefa had a heart to heart talk with Bronia and told her that the Germans were beginning to withdraw and that the Russians were getting closer. She advised her not to give up and return to the villages. She then gave her food and a coat for the child—taken from her own young child.

[32] Regina Zajaczkowska [Zajączkowska] lived with her son, Ryszard, and her daughters, Izabela Stasiuk and her family and Maria Janiak and her family, in Wlodzimierz Wolynski [Włodzimierz Wołyński]. One day, Irena Gelman and her yearold daughter, Anna, appeared at their house. Irena had fled the Lwow [Lwów] ghetto (her husband had perished even before they entered the ghetto) and after a long journey arrived in Wlodzimierz Wolynski. She represented herself to the local priest as a Polish woman whose entire family had been killed. She said she was looking for work. The priest directed her to the Stasiuk family to work as a maid and cook. Some time afterwards, the Stasiuk family decided to move to Lublin out of fear of Ukrainian nationalists and invited Irena to come along with them. Izabela’s mother, Regina Zajaczkowska, came to visit her daughter and advised Irena not to go to Lublin. At the same time, she offered help if Irena should have to flee Lublin in the future. Irena went with the family to Lublin but was forced to return to Wlodzimierz Wolynski. She then

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