«Wartime Rescue of Jews by the Polish Catholic Clergy The Testimony of Survivors Edited and compiled by Mark Paul Polish Educational Foundation in ...»
XVIII. Kołomyja near Stanisławów
1. Lodka (Leokadia) Rajbach, along with her two brothers, stayed with us for some time. After our home was taken over and included in the ghetto area, for three weeks we tried to help them any way we could by supplying food every evening.
Lodka probably did not survive.
2. Tola Litner from Bielsko hid in our house for a certain period. We dressed her as a postulant and sent her to Kraków in the company of one of our Sisters. She spent the night in Kraków with the Sisters and then went on to her friends in Kalwaria.
3. We lived across from the ghetto where our old building was. The Sisters, hungry themselves, shared their bread with the poor Jews who stood near the wire fences and begged for something to eat or drink. Sometimes the Sisters would get a pass from the German command to go into the ghetto under the pretext of having to repair their shoes, umbrella, etc. You could not bring food into the ghetto. The Sisters would hide butter and other food in their sleeves and when they were out of sight of the German guards, they would give these things to the poor families inside the ghetto. They tried in this way to rescue a disabled Jew who was starving to death. He was given a coat, the only one in the home, by one of the Sisters.
Once a soldier hit one of the Sisters on the head because he saw her give milk to a Jewish woman.
XIX. Drohobycz near Lwów—Shelter for the Poor on Cerkiewna Street
1. In 1942 a woman from the Polish Committee brought a two-and-a-half-year-old child to us who had been found. He was circumcised. We learned that his name was Tadzio. Because he couldn’t say his last name he was given the name of Galewicz. When the advancing Soviet front moved closer and things became very dangerous, Tadzio was baptized because we feared for his soul should he be killed in the bombing. In July of 1944, after the Germans retreated, Tadzio’s aunt came to us with a photograph of the child and was able to identify him. The father waited outside. This was Major Mieczysław Hański, who served in the Polish Army and had arrived with the advancing Russian Army. The aunt assured the Sisters that the father would reward the Sisters for having saved his son. And, indeed, he did. When we were evacuated to Wrocław the Sisters along with their poor charges were homeless. They went into the town looking for a place to live.
Walking along they met a Jewish man who asked them what they were looking for. They told him of their fate and he answered them by saying that they had a highly placed person who would offer them protection in the person of the Major.
This was the Major whose son the Sisters had saved. The man gave the Sisters his address at the army headquarters. When the Sisters met with the Major, he assigned to them the one-story house he had been living in at 8 Serbska Street. He, himself, moved to another house on Karłowicka Street. After a while he came to the Sisters and asked them for his son’s baptismal certificate. In 1950, when the house on Serbska Street was being taken away from the Sisters, the Major was living in Legnica. The Sisters contacted him there and asked him for his help.
2. In the institution in Drohobycz, there hid for a time a Jewish woman who said she was a Catholic. She had false identification papers with the surname Kalińska. She went to church, had a rosary and even received the sacraments.
Advised not to do this by the Sisters she still would not admit that she was Jewish. When she became deathly ill she still kept pretending until finally she asked to be baptized by our priest. He was surprised at her sudden change of heart. When the Sisters were leaving for the western part of Poland, they took all the sick with them, including her. She died en route in the arms of a Sister who had been taking care of her the entire way. She was buried in Wrocław at Psie Pole.
1. Once during the occupation, an elderly Jewish couple came to our institution. They were very hungry. Because we were surrounded by German military objects and lookout posts, the Sisters directed the couple to some thick raspberry patches and brought them Kosher food to eat. When they had eaten, they went on their way. The Sisters do not remember their last name but they remember well the names of their friends from Przemyśl, who lived on Nadworska Street: Wincz, Gepsman, Szwebel, and Rajchilbert.
XXI. Busko-Zdrój near Kielce The magistrate sent us a Jewish woman with two children whom we were to shelter for the night. They stayed for half a year, during which time we supported them. After the liberation we gave her warm clothing and she left, with her children, for Częstochowa.
XXII. Opoczno near Piotrków Trybunalski There was a married couple from Przasnysz whose last name has been forgotten. Because they attracted attention to themselves by their appearance, the mayor told them to leave the institution. Consequently, Mother General asked the mother superior in Skarżysko to accept them. They were accepted there.
XXIII. Skarżysko-Kamienna near Kielce
1. This same couple is remembered by another Sister. The man was sick, had a stroke and died in the institution. His wife survived the war and returned to Przasnysz.
2. After the Warsaw Uprising, a Jewish family which was evacuated to Skarżysko under an assumed Polish name left an elderly man at the institution. He died there.
3. A little Jewish girl was sheltered at the orphanage. Her mother had been imprisoned. After she was freed, she came and took the child.
4. A foundling was brought to the institution. There was a brief note with the child stating that it was nine months old and not baptized. A childless couple took the child from the institution and baptized her giving her the name of Barbara. After the war some Jews came to take the child.
XXIV. Wołomin near Warsaw—Orphanage
1. The institution housed two little Jewish girls. One was adopted by a family and the older child, who was sickly, was baptized. Her brother came for her [after the war]. She did not want to go. She hid herself. She was afraid of the Jews. A letter was brought from the voivodship authorities, however, and she was taken. I think her name was Bronia.
2. During the Warsaw Uprising a five-year-old boy was found near the institution. He was poor, in torn clothes, hungry and had lice. The boys from the institution chased him, and even threw stones at him. When a Sister became aware of him, she called him over, washed him, fed him, gave him some clothes and he stayed. He couldn’t tell us anything about himself. Because he had a dark complexion, the children called him a Gypsy. At first he was frightened and shy. After a few days he changed and the boys began to like him very much. He remained at the institution until September 1946. At the time the Sister who took care of him was transferred to Siedlce. There a certain Jewish woman who was looking for her child in the local orphanage showed a photograph of him. This Sister recognized the little “Gypsy” from Wołomin. The grateful mother took back her child and as a gift to the Sisters, offered them leather to make shoes.
1. In 1943 a farmer brought a six-month-old Jewish child, along with her mother, to us from the countryside. The mother, out of fear, pretended to be incoherent. The father remained outside. The child was raised by us until the Germans retreated. The father came back and took the child. He said that his wife had been killed in Warsaw and that he, himself, had been sheltered by the Albertine Brothers in Warsaw. He was very grateful to the Sisters that at least this child was saved out of the whole family.
2. When the ghetto was being liquidated, a Jewish infant was left with us. After having been taken care of by Sister P., who hid him from the lay personnel, he was taken by the Jewish social agency.
3. In the Spring of 1943 a Jewish woman kept coming to our convent in Siedlce at 10 Cmentarna Street. She received food and worked at small jobs in the kitchen in order to stay with us. This lasted several weeks. She never told us her last name and no one ever asked. All that was necessary was to help this person in need.
4. Sometimes Jews would come to the orphanage from the ghetto and ask for bread. If there were no Germans nearby we gave them food.
5. About 1943 two women came to the nursery asking that a child be taken in. Because the Sisters could not do this without formal papers, they told the women to leave the child at night. The women did this. The little girl, who was only a few months old, stayed in the orphanage for some time. Later a friend of the mother’s, a Polish woman, came to take the child.96
6. A father came looking for his daughter Róża Zoik, a foundling, after the Germans retreated. He had been hidden by a Catholic woman in Warsaw, and after his wife died in the ghetto, he married this woman.
7. A farmer from the countryside brought in a little three-year-old girl with Jewish features because he was afraid to hide her any longer. This child was mortally afraid of Germans. She did not even look out the window for fear of being seen by the Germans. After a while someone told the authorities that the institution was harbouring a Jewish child. When the Germans came, a Sister covered this little girl up in a bed and showed them another child indicating that this was the one in question. That child had typical Aryan features so they patted her on the head and said that they must have received false information.
8. In 1945 the wounded were brought in from the front. These were Jews and Russians. The hospital’s lay personnel left before the front reached us. Two Albertine Sisters went to the hospital to help the other nuns—Sisters of Charity—who were working there. Together with Dr. Krakówka, they carried the wounded to beds, dressed wounds and treated everyone with equal loving care.
XXVI. Mników near Kraków During the German occupation evacuees from Warsaw came to us. Along with others, a Jewish woman and her child and two elderly Jewish sisters from Warsaw stayed with us. They told us that, in Warsaw, they had stood behind the chimney of a burned-out building, on the third floor, for two days. They had prayed to the Blessed Virgin of Częstochowa for help. After two days they were rescued by the fire department. These people stayed with us for two weeks, until the local reeve, who was afraid of the Germans, told them to leave the village.
XXVII. Kraków: 6 Podbrzezie Street Two Jewish boys were accepted into the institution. They were seven and ten. One of them was named Jurek. Their last name had been changed to a Polish one, Nowak. Their mother came to see them three times a week and brought them various things. She was wealthy because it was said that the family owned two large stores on Floriańska Street and their own house. The mother promised the Sisters a large reward for sheltering these children. The children went outside once and were caught by the Germans. Because of this incident the institution had much unpleasantness: reports, German inspections, etc.97 XXVIII. Rząska near Kraków
1. A ten-year-old girl named Hania Raj gave the impression of being physically developed beyond her years. She was brought to us by her aunt, who said that the girl’s parents were taken to a camp and then left for England, and that she did not have the means to keep the girl. Hania attended school and was a good student. At the request of her aunt she was prepared by the Sisters for Confession and Holy Communion. When the Russians came the aunt took her and placed her in the Jewish Orphanage in Kraków.
2. A 70-year-old woman walking to Rząska met some Sisters and asked them whether she could stay overnight. The next day she asked to stay another night because she had no place to go. She did not admit to being Jewish. She prayed, received the sacraments and only when the local priest admonished her, did she stop taking Holy Communion. She lived in a room with the children, behind a screen, because there was no other place to put her. She was fluent in German and Russian and helped the children with their lessons. As soon as the Germans left, she went to Kraków.
XXIX. Kraków-Prądnik Czerwony A certain lady came to Mother General asking her to accept Jaś into the shelter. He was the son of a rich neighbour 96 This account appears to refer to Rachela, the daughter of Tzipora Zonszajn (née Jabłoń), who left her infant in the care of her friend, Irena Zawadzka, in Siedlce. Irena, with the help of one of her schoolmates, Lucyna Rzewuska, placed Rachela in the orphanage. They took her away a few months later when the child became ill. The child survived the occupation. See Gutman and Bender, The Encyclopedia of the Righteous Among the Nations, vol. 5: Poland, Part 2, p.928.
97 Another Jewish child who was sheltered at this orphanage was Sara Warszawiak, who passed as Irena Jabłońska. She was transferred to
Kraków from a convent in Brody in the winter of 1943, and was later adopted by Professor Jan Pilch and his wife, Julia. See her memoir:
Sara Avinum, Rising from the Abyss: An Adult’s Struggle With Her Trauma as a Child in the Holocaust (Hod Hasharon, Israel: Astrolog Publishing House, 2005), 96–106, 152. Sara remained with the Pilch’s for some time after the war. Despite her desire to be baptized, Father Archilles, a Capuchin monk, dissuaded her from doing so. Ibid., 185–86.
260 from Rząska who was a lawyer. The parents were Catholics, but of Jewish background. Jaś, using the name of Moskowski, was sent to our orphanage in Bochnia. He survived the war and returned to his family.
1. One Sister stated that in Szczawnica a Mr. Majerczak hid a Jewish man in his basement. He brought this man food in a basket used for coal. After the war this person rewarded him.
2. Another Sister stated that while she was still living with her parents (Jan and Anna Zielonka, in the village of Filipy, in the county of Końskie), during the third year of the war, there was a Jewish family who went from house to house looking for a place to stay the night. Her parents took them in and that night the woman gave birth to a child. They could not stay any longer because the Germans made a thorough search of all of the houses.