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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 85 ] --

[9] After returning to Warsaw from the front in 1939, Antoni-Stefan Koper, knowing that he would not find work in his chosen profession (journalism), took an office job with the municipal tax authorities, which allowed him to enter the ghetto. On his visits to the ghetto, Koper brought with him documents forged in an underground printing press with the help of a friend and distributed them among Jews, enabling them to escape to the Aryan side of the city. In the summer of 1942, after the large-scale Aktion in the ghetto, Koper offered to shelter his friend, Fanny Margulies, whose entire family had been deported to Treblinka, in his apartment in central Warsaw. After helping her escape, Koper brought Margulies to his apartment where, to her amazement, she discovered that Koper was already sheltering Bronislawa [Bronisława] and Henryk Finkelstein and Dr. Maksymilian Ciesielski, also fugitives from the ghetto. Between 1942 and 1944, a number of Jews passed through Koper’s apartment for various periods, including children who were later placed in Catholic orphanages. Despite the danger, threats, and attempted extortion, Koper continued with his humanitarian activities. With the outbreak of the Warsaw Uprising in August 1944, all the Jewish refugees fled with the rest of Warsaw’s population and survived until the liberation.

[10] Anna Reich was nine when her parents and close family were murdered during the Aktion which took place in 1942 in the town of Biala [Biała] in the Cracow district. On the night preceding the massacre, Anna’s mother escaped with her daughter and after arranging for Anna to stay with a Polish friend returned to the ghetto, where she perished. A few days later, the Polish friend sent Anna to stay with her aunt, in Cracow. Since Anna had little chance of surviving in Cracow, the aunt asked Jadwiga Kruczkowska, a friend who lived with her son, Adam, in nearby Wieliczka, to take Anna in.

Jadwiga, whose husband, the famous Polish author Leon Kruczkowski, was interned at the time in a prisoner-of-war camp, immediately agreed to shelter Anna in her home. After obtaining Aryan papers for Anna, Kruczkowska enrolled her

–  –  –

[11] 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 … In 1943, Mantel also hid Erwin Aleksandrowicz, an old acquaintance, in her apartment. He, like Mantel’s mother-in-law, had also been forced to wander from one hiding place to another. Mantel also found a hiding place for Irena Aleksandrowicz, Erwin’s daughter, until he found a more permanent place for her in an institution run by nuns.

[12] In the 1930s, Stanislaw [Stanisław] Mazur, who had been born and bred on a farm, met Jews for the first time as a student at the University of Warsaw. … Stanislaw Mazur and his wife, Krystyna, helped Jews imprisoned in the Warsaw ghetto. The Mazurs’ address was known to Jews fleeing from the ghetto, and, disregarding the risk to their lives, the Mazurs took them into their home, provided them with false papers, and helped them find other places to hide, mostly outside of Warsaw. Of the 30 Jewish fugitives helped by the Mazurs, only 20 survived the war … [Stanisław Mazur took several children out of the ghetto, among them the six-year-old daughter of a lawyer named Goldman and another girl of a similar age. Both girls were taken in by nuns. 87] [13] From the beginning of the activities of Zegota [Żegota] in Cracow, Dr. Aleksandra Mianowska placed her services at the disposal of the organization. In this role, which she considered a human obligation and the fulfillment of her Hippocratic oath, she treated sick Jews hiding on the Aryan side of the city and its environs. In certain cases, Dr.

Mianowska had ill Jews admitted into the hospital under assumed identities. Dr. Mianowska’s apartment served as a mail drop to enable the transfer of information between Zegota contacts and the Jews they helped. In 1943, Dr. Mianowska hid Ella Manor in her home. Even after she found her a more permanent hiding place in a convent, Dr. Mianowska continued to take care of all of Manor’s needs, maintaining contact with her until the liberation by the Red army in January 1945.

[14] Kornel Michejda, a professor in the Stefan Bathory [Batory] University in Vilna [Wilno], was known before the war for his liberal views and as a friend of the Jews. When the Germans occupied Vilna in June 1941, Professor Michejda gave asylum to his friends Professor Michal [Michał] Reicher and Professor Ignacy Abramowicz, moving them to a hiding place on his summer estate in the nearby village of Gulbiny. In order to keep the presence of the two Jewish fugitives secret, Professor Michejda handed the estate over to nuns who had nowhere to live after the Soviet authorities, which had ruled Vilna until the German occupation, drove them out of the convent that had been their home. Paid by Michejda to do so, the nuns were required to care for and safeguard the two Jewish fugitives and provide for their every need. Reicher and Abramowicz remained in their hiding place under the protection of Professor Michejda until their liberation in September 1944. After the war, they remained in Poland, earning reputations as outstanding men of science.

[15] One day in 1942, Maria Niemiec showed up in her tiny apartment in Przemysl [Przemyśl] with six-year-old Teresa.





She then told her four children that Teresa was now their sister. Teresa was the only child of Shimon and Dziunia Licht, who knew Niemiec as the daughter of a woman who had worked in their household before the war. After they gave her their daughter, the Lichts used false papers to reach Warsaw. Teresa was received warmly by the Niemiec family, who, despite their impoverished circumstances and overcrowded home, cared for her with warmth and kindness, telling neighbors that she was a relative. A friend of Niemiec, who lived nearby, was at the same time hiding a seven-year-old cousin of Teresa’s. The little boy carelessly revealed he was Jewish and the Germans took him away. Following the boy’s arrest, the Germans discovered his parents’ hiding place in Przemysl and murdered them all. Fearing that Teresa’s identity would also be discovered, Maria Niemiec took her to Warsaw and, using connections her parents had, placed her in a convent, where she remained until the liberation. Niemiec remained in Warsaw throughout the entire period and without asking for or receiving anything in return served as a go-between for Teresa and her parents. Only after the war ended did Niemiec return home to her husband and children.

[16] Before the occupation, Michal [Michał] and Jadwiga Skalski, who lived with their little daughter in an isolated house in Bialystok [Białystok], were on good terms with their Jewish neighbors. Even after the closure of the ghetto, Skalski and his wife kept up contact with their Jewish acquaintances, whom they met at their places of work outside the ghetto, and

87 Grynberg, Księga sprawiedliwych, p.33.

234 helped them to the best of their ability. Skalski used his job as a clerk at the municipality in charge of distributing ration cards to help his Jewish friends. In early 1943, when a number of Jews turned to the Skalskis asking for shelter, the Skalskis prepared a well-hidden shelter for them under their house. Among those who hid in the shelter in the course of 1943 were Leon Grunberg and his daughter, Halina (who later moved to the nearby village), Aleksander Brener and his daughter, Ida, Aniela Kapinska, Jakub Weisfeld, Felicja Bagon, and Jakub and Fruma Rozen. The Skalskis helped support their charges, even selling their belongings to buy them food. They also helped other Jews who were hiding in the vicinity.

The Skalskis, who were fearful of discovery, insisted on complete secrecy … When Bagon gave birth in hiding, Skalski, fearing that the baby’s presence would endanger the refugees, took the baby to a nearby convent [an orphanage in Białystok run by nuns88], claiming it was a foundling. The baby and the refugees under the Skalskis’ care survived until the area was liberated. … After the war, some of the survivors immigrated to Israel and Brazil while others stayed on in Poland.

[17] Kazimiera Szarowaro and her daughter Zofia, Kwiatkowska, lived in Warsaw during the war. Kazimiera managed an overnight guesthouse next to the Municipal Women’s House. The guesthouse (as well as the Women’s House) stood near the ghetto on Leszno Street. During the German occupation, Szarowaro as well as her daughter lent considerable help to people who were hiding because of persecution. Since the Municipal Women’s House and the overnight guesthouse were near the ghetto Kwiatkowska and her mother often helped people who were escaping from the ghetto and gave them illegal shelter in their apartment. Many times these people stayed for a long time under their complete care.

According to Zofia Wiewiórowska, an employee at the lodging house, Halina Szarowaro was the manager.

(Bartoszewski and Lewin, Righteous Among Nations, pp.131–32.) At this time the Lodging House was run by the Municipal Women’s House, at 96, Leszno St., and both these institutions were managed and financed by the Department of Social Welfare at 74, Złota St.

In the summer of 1942, when the Germans started to liquidate the ‘small ghetto’ … Women of Semitic type with insanity and fear of death in their eyes began to reach the porter’s lodge of our House more and more frequently, asking for a place to sleep and for asylum. They had false papers, Kennkarten (identity cards) issued by the City of Warsaw authorities.

We placed the women in the common ward, but usually they left this asylum. After seeing the horrible conditions among the crowd of drunkards, beggars and insane women, they went to seek refuge somewhere else. … The Jewish escapees were passed on to us by a nun, Bernarda, with whom we kept in touch until the end. It was she who placed the younger ones in various boarding houses, private homes or institutions. The Municipal Women’s House also crowded with Jewesses—girls in the boarding house and dormitories, governesses, guardians of the girls found refuge and occupation there. We never spoke, of course, about their origin, accepted their false papers in good faith … We arranged for the hidden women to get in touch with their families; the underground organization supplied them with medicine, food and clothing.

[18] Waclaw [Wacław] and Irena Szyszkowski lived in Warsaw during the war. They had three young children. Waclaw was a lawyer but hardly ever practiced law because he was active in the AK [Home Army]. In the summer of 1942, a prewar friend, Jozef [Józef] Zysman (also a lawyer, who was murdered a year later), approached Waclaw and asked for help in saving his son Piotr (born 1939). Soon afterwards, Jozef’s sister-in-law fled the ghetto through the sewage system along with her daughter and Piotr. She met up with Irena in a prearranged spot and handed over Piotr. Because the Szyszkowskis had three children of their own, they were not able to keep Piotr for very long. Eventually they put him up in a monastery [an institution run by nuns near Warsaw89] and later moved him to different hiding places. (After the war, Piotr’s mother, Teodora Zysman, found him in a monastery.) … Teodora stated in her testimony that the Szyszkowskis saved two other girls, the daughters of a Warsaw lawyer named Roman Frydman Mirski [who were placed with the Franciscan Sisters of the Family of Mary in Płudy].

[19] Marta and Feliks Widy-Wirski lived with their two children in Warsaw. At the end of 1941, Marta met a friend on the street who had told her that Janina Powolska, a friend from the days of her pharmaceutical studies in Poznan [Poznań], was in the ghetto with her husband, Henryk, and their son, Andrzej. Marta subsequently bribed an officer of the Blue Police with a large amount of money and he in turn brought Janina and the child back to her home. Janina and her son settled in with Marta and Feliks, Janina pretending to be their maid. … In 1943, Janina’s son was placed under the care of

88 Grynberg, Księga sprawiedliwych, p.487.89 Grynberg, Księga sprawiedliwych, p.555.

235 nuns outside Warsaw, since the landlady warned Marta that the other occupants of the building suspected her and her husband of hiding Jews. “For safety’s sake, we all moved to Sulejowek [Sulejówek] and later, for similar reasons, to Podkowa Lesna [Leśna],” wrote Marta in her testimony. Shortly before the outbreak of the Warsaw Uprising, a man appeared at the Widy-Wirskis’ home telling them that Henryk Poswolski was lying wounded in the cowshed. Marta and Feliks brought the wounded Henryk (who was wounded while escaping from Treblinka) to Podkowa, where they were able to get him medical attention. After the liberation, the Poswolski family emigrated to Brazil.

[20] In the summer of 1942, Mr. Seifter managed to get his 11-year-old daughter, Felicia, out of the Cracow ghetto and arranged for her to stay with Zygmunt and Elzbieta [Elżbieta] Wojnarowicz, who owned a farm in the village of Wawrzenczyce [Wawrzeńczyce] in the county of Miechow [Miechów], Cracow district. The Wojnarowiczes gave Felicia a warm welcome and looked after her devotedly without expecting anything in return. About a year later, she was transferred, as Elzbieta Smolen [Elżbieta Smoleń], to a convent for her own safety. The Wojnarowiczes also sheltered Marian Rozmaryn, an engineer, and his wife, Regina, whom they also looked after devotedly. In June 1943, members of the Gestapo burst onto the farm, shot Rozmaryn and his wife dead, and arrested Zygmunt Wojnarowicz, who was sent to Auschwitz and later to the Dora camp, from which he never returned. After the war, Felicia Seifter (later Ela Manor) immigrated to Israel.



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