In the description of merits
of people recognized by Yad Vashem as "Righteous among Nations", in the
following pages, you will find that many other Poles, not mentioned here,
also paid with their lives. The Main Commission for Investigation
of Crimes against the Polish Nation, having other priorities, did not verify
To the list of 704 Polish
Christians killed for having helped Jews during the 2nd World War should
be added a new case, recognized by Yad Vashem as "the 26th among those
killed “Righteous Among the Nations" that of:
The representative of
the Polish Red Cross in Hungary he took care of refugees. He procured
false documents to the Jews. When the Germans invaded Hungary in
March 1944, they burst immediately into his office and shot him for that
"crime". The medal was conferred on Jan. 14, 1999 in Warsaw.
Up to now  it has been
verified that 705 Poles were killed for helping Jews.
FROM THE EDITOR’S DOCUMENTATION
Here are 14 other cases of
people killed, although not yet confirmed decisively by the Main Commission
for Investigation of Crimes against the Polish Nation. They are followed
by several stories of saving, which seem most meritorious, but did not
bring the recognition, except one and that only partially. The editor’s
appeal to the saved concludes this section.
SKRZYPINSKI: all three were
members of the Polish resistance AK (Home Army) under the command of Col.
Stanislaw Burza-Karlinski, operating in the area of Piotrków Trybunalski.
The Gestapo killed them for procuring hundreds of false documents for Jews.
The AK (Home Army) was the most important resistance movement in occupied
Europe, comprising ca. 380,000 fighters.
CZUBACKI, Marianna, born
HARMACINSKI from Tysmienica, Bielskopodlaskie prov. The Germans killed
her at the age of 43, on Dec. 6, 1942, together with the Jews she helped.
In the period 1940-1942 she brought food every day to several Jews hidden
in a bunker in the nearby forest. She left five small children.
DYBKA, Jozef, a county clerk,
in Nisko, was shot by gendarmes for having inscribed false names on German
documents for a Jewish couple, who were later discovered in another town
GROCHOLSKI, Emil: born
1920 in Przemysl. He took part with his elder brother, Kazimierz,
with Adolf and Marian Baran, and with Leon (or Leopold) Jaroszkiewicz,
(we have the exact addresses of each of them) in transferring hundreds
of Jews from the western part of Poland under German occupation to the
eastern part under Soviet Russian occupation. They had to cross the
river San in the vicinity of a brewery in Ostrow near Przemysl. Both
sides of the river were covered by dense wire entanglements and were patrolled
by German and Soviet border guards. The boats had to be dragged through
the wire entanglements at night, in complete darkness and silence and guided
through a very swift currant to the eastern side. The disembarkation
of the passengers, contrary to previous agreements, was as a rule very
noisy, which attracted the Soviets attention. The return trip had
to be done most often under a heavy Russian fire, as the Soviets did not
tolerate anyone crossing to the German side. Emil was shot at the
head and died 2 hours later. He was buried at Zasan.
JACZYNSKI, Michal, a captain
of cavalry, invalid from the campaign of September 1939, resident in the
manor of Sobienie Szlacheckie, Siedlce prov. The estate belonged
to Zofia countess Jezierski. Arrested for his part in helping Jews,
on June 15, 1942, just a day before his marriage to the countess, he was
killed at the Gestapo Headquarters on the Aleja Szucha in Warsaw.
JEZIERSKI, Zofia, countess,
born princess POTOCKI, a widow, owner of Sobienie Szlacheckie, harboured
in her manor, among other people two Jews (under assumed names).
She ordered also to leave a cart of potatoes for the Jews of Sobienie Jeziory,
a nearby village, twice a week. When the Germans found out about
this food supply, they arrested her, together with Captain Jaczynski, (see
above) on June 15, 1942, just a day before their marriage. She has
been shot at the notorious execution grounds at Palmiry near Warsaw.
A male servant present at the manor was also killed.
LECHKI, Anna, born TUREK
in August 1894. Similarly to Marianna Czubacki- (see above) she agreed
to bring food regularly to a group of 15-16 Jews hiding in a bunker in
the woods. The Germans discovered the bunker and killed most of them,
but 5 managed to escape. As they revealed who helped them, Anna was
imprisoned in fall of 1943 in Drohobycz and killed in March 1944.
She left six children, two of them under age.
LEWINSKI (BROCHWICZ), Lucjan,
a lawyer, gave refuge for several weeks to a Jewish colleague, advocate
Z., until that last managed to leave the country. For that help Lucjan
was taken to Auschwitz, in fall of 1942, from where he never returned.
All search for advocate Z. proved futile.
MAZURKIEWICZ, Kornelia, born
1880 at Podhajce, a teacher from Lvov (city incorporated after the
war into the Soviet Ukraine). In February and March of 1942 she hid
a Jew, Henryk E. S. (born ca. 1908 in Vienna) in her apartment. He
had to hide himself first from the NKWD and then from the Germans in Stanislawow.
Denounced by some Ukrainian neighbors he escaped to Przemysl to the Jozefik
family. Discovered by chance again, he went from there to Lvov to
Kornelia. He slipped away to the barber, quarreled there with a German
officer and was shot by him on the spot. His protector was taken
away, never to be seen again.
TUKALLO, Zofia, a widow,
took into her manor two Jewish families of Lida, (town incorporated into
the Soviet Byelorussia) those of the local physician and dentist.
The German discovered her and shoot her with the two families, leaving
orphans her three children aged 14, 13 and the youngest boy of 10, with
an amputated leg.
WRZOSEK, Franciszek, a peasant,
hid 29 Jews on his farm. The Germans came and shot most of them,
taking Franciszek and the rest of the Jews to the Treblinka camp.
He never returned. There were 8 Polish witnesses, of whom 3 were
forced to bury the dead Jews in an unmarked grave in the forest.
The Jewish Historical Institute in Warsaw checked the facts. We are
in possession of the Institute's letter to Yad Vashem, of Dec. 31, 1984,
stating that they investigated the facts and that they suggest that this
case be positively dealt with. It never was.
PRIEST from Wolkolaty was
sheltering Jews. When the Germans learned this, they dispatched a
local policeman to arrest him. But he did not feel right to do it
and suggested to the priest to ask his guests to leave and to go into hiding
himself. The priest, in order not to endanger the policeman for disobeying
orders, presented himself to the Germans who promptly killed him.
See p. 144 of the book by Joseph Riwash: "Resistance and Revenge; 1939-1949".
Mount Royal, [Montreal, the author, 1981]
The State o Israel, by its
Yad Vashem Institute, awarded the medal of "Righteous among the Nations"
to more Poles than to any other nationals, for helping Jews during the
war. That help was given in spite of the danger of an automatic death
sentence, often for the entire family and neighbors, passed only in occupied
Poland and not in Western Europe. These death sentences were widely
publicized in towns and in the country. Here are several stories,
known to us since many years, which did not result in death of the protagonists.
These people in spite of being most meritorious are not recognized as “Righteous”.
The editor presents some of them to give the reader just an idea of what
might be behind any of the thousands of names, which will follow later.
CATHOLIC CLERGY in Lvov.
In their very moving and thoughtful book “Our Journey in the Valley of
Tears” (Toronto, University of Toronto Press, 1991) the Doctors couple,
both psychiatrists, Andrzej and Karolina Jus relate how some members of
the clergy of Lvov, particularly H.E. the Bishop Baziak, two Bernardine
friars, Father Wilhelm and especially Father Alojzy and a nun Filomena
helped them with food, empathy and all kinds of assistance. Karolina,
born in Vienna with documents stamped as being of Jewish religion, decided
on her own to be baptized and marry Andrzej in the Catholic church.
The bishop, very open-minded and critical of any form of anti-Semitism,
was so supportive that he promised that all priests under his jurisdiction
will protect the future young couple and offered asylum in the monastery
for Karolina’s father and in a women convent for her mother and sister,
with the assurance that no proposals will be made to them to convert to
Catholicism. Karolina with her sister Zosia and some other young
Jewish girls were forced to do some cleaning job for the Germans.
Thanks to the excellent German language and quick wits of Zosia they both
returned home when all the other young people were killed. Father
Alojzy helped Andrzej to prepare false documents of baptism and marriage,
dating them earlier, as of 1938. He baptized Karolina and married
them. Under the German rule Andrzej and his family would be subject
to the same persecution as if they were Jews. Karolina’s father,
Juliusz, overoptimistic, and unwilling to separate from his family, refused
the bishop’s offer and moved with his wife Dorota and daughter Zosia to
a village called Orelec. The Jus couple moved later to another small
locality, Uherce, where Andrzej’s aunt lived with seven children and where
he would work as a country doctor. That brave widow thought from
the beginning that Karolina was of Jewish background but never asked questions
and all treated her like family. In Orelec the Germans after a year
shot in a most cruel way Karolina’s father, Juliusz, mother Dorota and
sister Zosia with about a hundred of local Jews. A teacher of that
village, JANKA (her family name is unknown) always helped them; she also
was executed at the end of the war. The couple Jus, unable to withstand
the communist regime in Poland, sojourned some time in France and England
but finally came to Canada. They were well received and respected
and hold fruitful and important positions in the scientific world.
But all the efforts of Dr. Karolina Jus to get the Yad Vashem recognition
for all the people who protected her at such a tremendous risk, proved
The second case, also not
resolved yet, is that of Wanda KAPUSCINSKI, born TRZASKA-ZAKRZEWSKI, still
living. She among others saved Zofia Lewin, co-editor of the books
of Bartoszewski, (q.v. in the bibliography) cited here very often.
She wrote in both of these books: "My appearance was not revealing; born
a Catholic…I did not differ in any way from my contemporaries with the
required number of "Aryan" grandparents (none of mine was OK). Nevertheless,
I was, of course, a mortal danger to anybody who accepted me in his home
or helped me in any way…That I feel deep gratitude is, of course, obvious.
I cite a few: Antoni Krahelski…his daughter, Mrs. Celinska and Jan Jozef.
Wanda Kapuscinska…took me into her house, risking her own life and those
of her mother and her only child…When I warned her, telling her who I was,
I learned that she knew the truth when she made the proposal." Wanda
Kapuscinski kept in her house also the mother of Zofia, who was not baptized
as a Catholic, like her daughter, but as she does not live anymore, there
is no confirmation by a person of Jewish faith. Published materials are
not taken in consideration.
The third case is the family
KAZURO that lived in Zareze, prov. of Vilna, at the time under German occupation.
It consisted of 6 persons: the parents Karol and Maria, the maternal grandmother
and their three children aged 10, 15 and 20 years old. For a three
year period from about 1941, the family Kazuro hid four members of the
Gordon family: Wolf, Rachel and their two children, 5 and 9 years old.
They had barely managed to escape the Dunilowicze ghetto from under German
fire. In another part of the same house, lived the Karol’s brother
who was unaware of the four hidden Jews. Karol’s and Maria’s windows
faced a house 100 yards distant that was occupied by a Pole, who worked
as a policeman in the ghetto. He visited them often to take a bath
in their “Turkish” bathhouse and so was a constant threat to them.
The Kazuros hid the fugitives under a stack of straw in a corner of the
barn. The Germans, informed about the fugitives, came several times
to search the barn. Each time they lined up the Kazuro family against
the wall ready to shoot them. When they came the third time the Jews
were just then taking a bath in the bathhouse. Karol invited the
Germans including their sentry to have some vodka and then asked their
permission to send his son to the bathhouse, supposedly to look after some
meat being smoked there. The Jews alerted in time, escaped in the
snow and hid in the brush. They became ill and Maria nursed them
as best she could. Obtaining sufficient food for ten persons was
a major difficulty. Aside from unexpected German inspections, partisans,
or armed robbers, who pretended to be partisans, visited the Kazuros.
They frequently confiscated anything they could find: food, clothes, blankets,
even hens and geese. At one moment the partisans wanted to set fire
to the neighbors house, but Karol beseeched their commandant to desist
as the barn in which the Gordon family was hidden was very close to it.
After three years of that nerve-wracking situation, when the Gordons took
leave of them, everybody wept. Wolf and Rachel Gordon are no longer
alive, but their children live in Toronto and from time to time send some
money to the only surviving member of the Kazuro family - the youngest
daughter - Romualda now married as Soroko, who lives with her husband in
Poland. Romualda’s only wish however is for the Kazuro family to
be recognized as “Righteous”. Despite many letters and telephone
calls since 1990 from this researcher and from other persons to the Gordon
children and to Yad Vashem, no statement at the Israeli Consulate in Toronto,
indispensable for such recognition, as far as we know, was deposited there.
Joseph Riwash on the p. 144 of his book: “Resistance and Revenge 1939-1949”.
[Town of Mount Royal, Quebec, 1981] mentions the saving of the Gordon family
by the Kazuros.
The forth case is that of
Stanislaw PUCHALSKI who lived in Nisko, South East of Sandomierz.
He was asked in 1942 by some Jewish acquaintances to procure them false
documents that would look really genuine. He photographed them himself
in a way to lessen their Jewish features. For Christian baptismal
certificates he traveled to another locality and when visiting the parish
priest there, in a moment of the priest’s absence, he pinched some blank
baptismal forms, on which he put the names of his relatives either deceased
or staying abroad. A Polish county clerk, Jozef Dybka, inscribed
these names on the German identification documents, called “Kennkarte”,
destined for the hiding Jews. All people had to have a German identification
document, the "Kennkarte". With these documents two Jewish couples
left as Christian Poles for other towns; a girl left for Austria,
and a young man for Germany. The couple B., before leaving, entrusted
Stanislaw with the care of their 5 years old son, Joseph. Unfortunately
after a certain time Germans discovered that they were Jews and killed
them; they shot also the county clerk, Jozef Dybka for writing their names
on their "Kennkarten". The other couple, Chaim F and his wife, fortunately
survived and out of gratitude, offered Stanislaw their house. He
however declined the offer. He took the 5 years old Joseph home where
he lived with his mother, Anna Puchalski born Olko and an orphaned little
girl adopted by her in place of her daughter, Bronia, killed in the bombardment
of 1939. He told the boy that from now on he will bear the same family
name as himself and that of his supposed parents, cousins of Stanislaw,
who lived on the Baltic sea coast, but have been deported to Germany.
The boy adjusted well to his new family; the two children played together
and recited Christian prayers together. But neighbors began talking
that the boy might be Jewish. Stanislaw sensing the danger, took
him to another locality, and placed him with the family of his paternal
uncle, Kazimierz Puchalski, living in a forester’s hut, with his wife Emilia
Puchalski born Molch and 5 children. Just a few weeks before their
arrival misfortune struck. Some Germans had shot Stanislaw’s uncle
in a group of 40 Poles and 6 Jews. His oldest son and daughter had
been taken for forced labor to Germany. His widow, Emilia, under
the shock of that triple tragedy, had a breakdown, took ill and became
incapable to care for the family. All the responsibility for the
homestead, the ailing mother, the youngest boy Frank and Joseph, fell on
the shoulders of the 17 years old daughter, Stefania and her 14 years old
brother, also Stanislaw, (both still living). For the little Joseph,
who delighted in the warm milk directly from the cow, it was not a serene
period though. Soon approached the nationalist Ukrainians of the
OUN-UPA bands, burning Polish villages and killing their inhabitants, men,
women and children by the thousands. See: the book by M. Terles:
"Ethnic Cleansing of Poles in Wolhynia and Eastern Galicia 1942-1946".
Toronto, Alliance of the Pol. East. Prov., 1993 and that by the Ukrainian
author Polishchuk, Victor: "Bitter Thruth; The Criminality of the OUN and
UPA". Toronto, Wiktor Poliszczuk, 1999. See also the huge (1440
pp.) documentary book of the Siemaszkos’. The forester’s family,
like other Poles, had to escape from rapes, mutilations and murders, this
time by the hands of the OUN-UPA bands, and to take refuge in the woods.
Each night Stefania grabbed her younger brother Frank with one arm and
Joseph with the second arm, and ran with the rest of the family deeper
into the forest. But they kept Joseph for those two harrowing years.
Finally they brought him further, to the brother of the first Stanislaw’s
grandfather, Jan Puchalski, with his wife Wiktoria and four children (the
three younger still living) who were not exposed to the OUN-UPA incursions.
With them the little Joseph stayed happily till the war’s end. Later
the other Jewish couple, saved by Stanislaw, Chaim F. and his wife adopted
Joseph. Of the young man who left for Germany nothing was heard.
Lately the girl who left Poland on the documents of Bronia, Stanislaw’s
sister, appeared and supposedly is willing to make the necessary deposition
at the Israeli Consulate. Anna Puchalski, Stanislaw’s mother, died
at the end of March 1994, a month before her 100th anniversary. A
few days later arrived the first letter from Joseph F. for which she waited
so long. Joseph’s adoptive parents passed away in 1998. Yad
Vashem recognized Stanislaw, his mother Anna, Jan and Wiktoria Puchalski
as "Righteous" on March 13, 2000. Cases: 6944 and 6944a. The
teenagers Stefania and her brother Stanislaw, who seem to be the most deserving,
are not recognized. The first Stanislaw Puchalski died on Aug. 20,
2000. Their cause started in 1993.
The fifth case is that of
Antoni RENSKI. He published a book "Czytanie z dloni". Warszawa [MON,
1983] (425 pp). Written as an autobiographical novel (rewarded as
the best of the year) in the first person, it is in reality, except for
two details, the exact account of his experiences during the war.
As a 17 years old boy scout, following the suggestion of the underground,
he entered 180 (one hundred eighty) times the Warsaw ghetto, each time
risking his life, to extricate from it Jewish intelligentsia: lawyers,
doctors, writers, artists, musicians, actors, some of them several times,
as they returned to the ghetto to visit their families. He succeeded
without one mishap, accompanying them to shelters on the ‘Aryan’ (Polish)
side. He still remembers - when this researcher visits him - many
of their names and even addresses. Antoni took part in the Ghetto
Uprising, (1943) and left the ghetto by sewers, even after Marek Edelman.
Arrested and tortured on Aleja Szucha, he spent time in various concentration
camps, but survived them all. The first Israeli ambassador in Poland,
H. E. Dr. Mordecai Palzur, wrote a letter to Antoni on his last day in
Poland, that he values highly his book and takes it with him to Israel.
Several registered letters of this researcher to the Ministry of Foreign
Affairs and to the private address of the ambassador in Israel did not
any reply. For the 50th anniversary of the Ghetto Uprising visited
Antoni two persons he thus saved. They told him that they could not
make any deposition to Yad Vashem on his behalf, because they did not tell
their families about their experiences during the war… In connection
with this, please look up: “The Report of Juergen Stroop Concerning the
Uprising in the Ghetto of Warsaw and the Liquidation of the Jewish Residential
Area”. Warsaw, Jewish Historical Institute, 1958. In it the
German general in 32 instances writes of some form of help coming from
the Polish side and makes a clear distinction between the fighting Jews
and the Polish bandits, whom he calls all communists, (or criminals, terrorists
and subhumans). The JHI in 5 notes of its commentary explains that
the “Polish bandits” means Poles fighting on their own, helping the Jews,
representing all classes of society and being of different political ideas.
As Stroop tells that many had been shot and Renski remembers about 20 who
survived the Uprising, there must have been quite a number of them.
Another case is that of Jerzy
SKRODZKI. (1910-1989), (nephew of the heroic President of Warsaw,
Stefan Starzynski., executed by Germans). he was in the AK (Home
Army), hold later several important posts in export-import business and
in consulates in various countries, was a great humanitarian. He
spent his last years in Canada, highly decorated for his merits, but invalid.
Following is the notarized translation of a letter he got from Warsaw of
Nov. 20, 1974. “Dear Mr. Skrodzki: I learned with great joy that
you survived the war and are alive and well in Canada. With utmost
gratitude I remember your help in those most terrible times you gave my
brother, Jakub Gingold and his wife. I remember well that my brother
found refuge in your office at No. 9 Kredytowa St. and his wife with some
of your acquaintances. I too was hidden in that office several times.
I remember equally well that even before our escape from the ghetto you
used to send us food through a Polish policeman, named Stanislaw Weglewski.
And where you learned about the illness of my brother Jacob (bedridden
with typhoid fever) you sent him, among other things, medicine, glucose,
vitamins, etc. I remember how your wife gave my sister-in-law her
own small golden cross to make her appear a Catholic. You also provided
my brother with (false) documents in the name of Wladyslaw Zarebski.
My brother and his wife did not live through the war. Enticed to
come to the Hotel Polski and not realizing the monstrous subterfuge of
the hitlerite criminals, they fell in the hands of the Gestapo. Recollecting
those terrible times I want to thank you from all my heart for such humanitarian
aid. I also want to render homage to many other Poles for their spirit
of sacrifice during the war when coming to the rescue of Poles of Jewish
origin. I send you my heartiest greetings and I hope that we might
still meet some day. Signed: Nachman Gingold – now Jerzy J.,
resident in Warsaw (address)”. But later Nachman Gingold, fearing
some supposed “unpleasantness from Jerusalem”, retracted his letter.
Jerzy Skrodzki related to this writer, that in the help to the Gingold
family participated about 30 people, among them workers in the German run
paper manufacture, who in order to escape search at the door, placed on
their breasts the paper suitable for the fabrication of the false German
documents, still hot and wet. The letter and other Mr. Skrodzki’s
papers are in possession of this researcher.
Finally I wish to present
here the case of Aniela-Alicja WARYSZEWSKI, born PODOGRODZKI. As
a young mother she helped many Jews, sometimes with the help of her parents
and brother. She was arrested and badly beaten on the head on Aleja
Szucha. By a miracle the torturer saw in her a likeness of his wife.
He relented and called a dentist. We have the dentist's statement
about the grave wounds she suffered on her head and teeth. Years
ago a man on the Sherbrooke Street in Montreal asked her if she is the
Alicja who saved him during the war. Recognizing her he felt right
there on his knees. Benjamin Rosenbaum made a beautiful statement
at the Israeli Congress, not knowing that it should be done only at the
Israeli Consulate. He named about a dozen of names of other Jews
saved by her. We are in possession of that statement as well as of
a letter by the Congress of the same date, confirming his story.
And that was the end of it. When after 3 years and a half Yad Vashem
learned about the case and tried to contact Benjamin Rosenbaum, it was
impossible to locate him. All quests proved futile. And so
Alicja did not get the medal she so richly deserved. She passed on
Oct. 6, 2001.
I launch here our most
urgent and heartfelt appeal to all those who were so saved themselves and
also to their families. Please, please, go to Yad Vashem or, if you
do not resdide in Israel, to the nearest Israeli Consulate or to
a religious center. Bring with you a written story of the rescue.
Write as many details as you can: Who saved you and who helped him/her,
even if those persons do not live anymore. Write, please, how, when,
and how long. Sign it, please, only in front of the authorities there,
giving them your address. Bring along some identification, possibly
with your photo. Ask them for a copy for yourself and send another
copy yourself by registered mail to The Holocaust Martyrs and Heroes Remembrance
Authority, Dept. for the Righteous, P. O. Box 3477, Jerusalem 91034, Israel.
No costs or obligations are involved if you tell those officials that it
is a deposition about a saving action during the Holocaust.
This is the only way to
get those worthy people the rare and most distinguished award in the form
of a medal, a certificate and the right to have their name(s) engraved
on the wall of Honor at Yad Vashem as "Righteous among the Nations".
As no money could pay for a life saved or for a life endangered, only such
moral recognition of their humanity, which reached heroic heights, is the
most beautiful way of thanking them. Naturally Yad Vashem takes into
account only cases of disinterested help. Any financial arrangements,
exceeding the payment of upkeep costs, when necessary during such rescue,
are outside of consideration.