Sosnowieckie Centrum Sztuki - Zamek Sielecki
pon.-pt. od 8:00 do 19:00
sob. – nd. Od 15:00 do 19:00
Sosnowiec 41-211
ul. Zamkowa 2
Sosnowiec during World War II
Incorporation of the Town into Nazi Germany
German army soldiers entered Sosnowiec on 4th of September 1939, and on the same day, its name was changed to Sosnowitz. On 13th of September  the city became a part of the Katowice region as a separate urban district.

By the decree of Adolf Hitler from 8th of October 1939, a new administrative division was implemented for the areas located at the intersection of Upper Silesia and western Lesser Poland. This territory was incorporated into the Third Reich as a part of the Katowice region (Regierungsbezirk Kattowitz), which was part of the Silesian province (Prowinz Schlesien, and from January 1941, the Upper Silesian province – Prowinz Oberschlesien). The region consisted of the lands of the former Silesian Voivodeship, including Zaolzie but excluding the Lubliniec county. It also included the Będzin county, the urban district of Sosnowiec, about one-third of the Olkusz county, the Biała and Żywiec counties from the Kielce Voivodeship, as well as parts of the Chrzanów and Wadowice counties from the former Kraków Voivodeship. Additionally, regions that had previously belonged to the Opole region were included, which encompassed urban counties: Gliwice, Zabrze, Bytom, and rural counties: Bytom and Gliwice-Toszek. In 1940, a total of 2,317,349 people inhabited this territory, including 931,121 Poles and 88,746 Jews. Germans dominated with 1,089,600 individuals, while just under 208,000 other residents represented other nationalities.
Walter Springorum, a senior official from the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Third Reich, was appointed as the commissioner president of the Katowice region. Over time, the areas of Lesser Poland and the southwestern part of the former Kielce Voivodeship incorporated into the Katowice region were referred to as the "Eastern Strip" (Oststreifen), and this strip, along with the regions of Upper Silesia that had been within the boundaries of the Silesian Voivodeship before the war, formed the so-called "Eastern Upper Silesia" (Ost-Oberschlesien). In the Nazi Germany's plans, this industrialized area was intended to become the new "Ruhr Valley" in the east.
Establishment of German Administrative and Police Structures

The first mayor of Sosnowiec was Ludwig Schneider, who arrived here on 7th of September 1939. His closest collaborators were Government Councillor Kirschner and six officials brought in from Germany. Lower positions in the city hall were filled by local Poles.
In parallel with the administrative authorities, a system of terror was being established. On  5th of September 1939, a new prison was opened at ul. Towarowa 10, and a few months later, a branch of the Gestapo office in Katowice was established, covering the entire Dąbrowa Basin. In mid-December, one of the six protection police units (Schutzpolizei Abschnitte SA), under the command of the protection police (Schutzpolizei) in Katowice, was established here. It controlled five precincts: Sosnowiec Town Centre, Sosnowiec Pogoń with a branch in Milowice, Sosnowiec Narutowicza, Czeladź – Piaski, and Będzin Town Centre with a branch in Małobądz.

On the very first day after the city's occupation by the Nazis, both collective and individual executions took place, resulting in the deaths of dozens of people, including both Poles and Jews. Natan Eliasz Szternfinkiel, in his monograph The Holocaust of Jews of Sosnowiec, published in August 1946, wrote:
On Monday, September 4, 1939, at 2 o'clock in the afternoon, Germans entered Sosnowiec. Gunshots were heard on ul. Ostrogórska, which gave the Germans a pretext to shoot at the residents living on that street and also on ul. Chłodna. On Ostrogórska, they searched houses, and those found hidden in shelters were shot on the spot. They dragged Jews out of the rabbi's house on ul. Targowa, and made them run through the city streets with their hands in the air. In this manner, a series of repressive and harassing actions against the Jewish population began.
At ul. Plebańska 46, thirteen Jews who had been brought from the prison on ul. Towarowa were shot.
The next day, dozens of people were gathered at the Schön factory on ul. 1 Maja. After a few hours, the Germans released those above the age of seventy, while the rest were still detained without food and water. On Wednesday, 6th of September, craftsmen were released, and merchants were directed to the prison. Some of them, thanks to hefty bribes, were released after a few weeks, but those who couldn't afford to pay the German guards were shot.
On 9th of September 1939, members of the Einsatzgruppe zur besonderen Verwendung (special operational group) set fire to the synagogue located at ul. Dekerta 16. The fire consumed the entire interior of the synagogue, including the Torahs and books, and part of the walls collapsed. People living in houses adjacent to the synagogue were prohibited from going outside, and firefighters were not allowed to approach the burning building. By the next day, only smoldering ashes, a massive pile of rubble, and fragments of walls remained. The Jews were ordered to clean up the debris, and over time, the remaining wall fragments were demolished.
   Natan Eliasz Szternfinkiel had no doubt about the purpose of these actions undertaken by the occupants:
Through these acts of terror and violence in the first days of their rule, Germans instilled fear and panic among the Jewish population. They sought to use such brutal attacks to intimidate their victims, render them helpless, and make them incapable of any resistance.

Bogumiła (1913 - ?) and Jan (1904-1980) Chawiński
   During the Nazi occupation, Bogumiła and Jan Chawiński lived at ul. Naftowa 9a in Sosnowiec. Their acquaintance, a 22-year-old Jewish woman named Danuta Szwarcbaum-Bachmajer, gave birth to a daughter in 1941, whom she named Lucyna. She knew that the chances of survival for the newborn were slim, and placing the child in a Polish family offered better possibilities for survival. She approached 28-year-old Bogumiła Chawińska, asking her to care for Lucyna, and Bogumiła readily agreed to take the child in. The women decided that Danuta would leave the girl near the town hospital, and Bogumiła would pick her up from there. Bogumiła didn't want to hide the child illegally, so she first took her to a shelter in Sielce-Sosnowiec. Later, she applied for the official adoption of the girl, for which she received permission from the German authorities. The child fell ill at the care center, and was in a very bad state when the Chawińskis got her, but thanks to the tender care of her new "mother," she quickly recovered. Bogumiła and her 37-year-old husband Jan had no children of their own, so they quickly formed a deep attachment to Lucyna and loved her as their own daughter. As the girl grew older, they baptized her and raised her until the end of the war.
   In the first days of August 1943, Danuta Szwarcbaum-Bachmajer escaped from the liquidated ghetto in Środula and sought refuge with the Chawiński family, where she hid for about a month. With the help of members of the Home Army (Armia Krajowa), the Polish underground resistance organization, the Polish woman obtained documents for her that allowed her to move to the General Government territory. There, Danuta stayed with friends of Bogumiła and Jan. After some time, she found another hiding place where she remained until the end of the occupation.
   In the summer of 1945, Danuta Szwarcbaum-Bachmajer returned to Sosnowiec to reclaim her daughter. For the Polish couple, it was a devastating blow. The separation from their adopted child was also very difficult for Lucynka. Bogumiła Chawińska, even many years after the war, would speak about that moment with tears in her eyes.
   After the liberation in 1945, the surviving mother of the child, Danuta Bachmajer, immediately came to Sosnowiec and initiated official proceedings to reclaim our beloved child, Lucyna. I don't need to describe what my husband and I went through after giving the child back to her birth mother. It was a tragedy in our home. The experience of this tragedy had a negative impact on our health, and even more so on the health of our beloved Lucyna, who was then 5 years old and did not understand that she had been raised by adoptive parents, and her true mother was Danuta Bachmajer.
   In 1947, Danuta Szwarcbaum-Bachmajer, along with her daughter, emigrated to Australia. There, she remarried and took the name Roman. She maintained regular correspondence with the Chawiński family and never hid from her daughter the role they played in her life. In 1979, Lucyna Bachmajer-Shagrin and her husband visited Sosnowiec and paid a visit to her adoptive parents, who were living at that time at al. Mireckiego 46/39. It was a deeply moving moment, especially for Jan Chawiński, who, shortly before his death in 1980, bid farewell to the “daughter” they had lost many years ago.
   In 1983, Bogumiła Chawińska initiated the process of having the title of Righteous Among the Nations awarded to herself and her late husband. On 3rd of June that year, she sent a letter to the Jewish Historical Institute along with notarized statements, both her own and those of the Jewish women they had saved. All the women emphasized that "the assistance provided was entirely selfless and lasted from 1941 to 1945." After exchanging correspondence with the institute, on 25th of December, she received a translated letter from Mordecai Paldiel, the then-director of the Department of the Righteous at Yad Vashem Institute in Jerusalem. In this letter, she was informed that two weeks earlier, the Jerusalem institution had honoured her and her husband Jan with the medals and diplomas of the Righteous Among the Nations.

Situation of the Jewish population in Sosnowiec during World War II
The numbers of Jewish population in the town in the interwar period (1918 – 1939)
According to the 1921 national census, Sosnowiec was inhabited by 86,497 people, including 13,646 citizens of Jewish faith (15.8% of the total population). Ten years later, out of 108,959 residents, 20,805 were Jews, and their percentage increased to 19.1%. The Jewish community was most numerous in the second half of the 1930s. In 1937, it numbered 26,904 residents among 121,000 Sosnowiec inhabitants (22.2%). In the following year, its number decreased to 26,518, but by 1939, it rose to nearly 27,000 people. This growth was due to the settlement of Jews with Polish citizenship in the town, forced to leave the Third Reich as part of the Polenaktion.
Implementing anti-Jewish policies during the German occupation
According to a police census conducted in the Katowice region in December 1939, among the 114,774 residents of Sosnowiec, 26,249 were Jews (approximately 30%). According to statistics compiled by the Head Office of Jewish Councils of Elders in Eastern Upper Silesia (Zentrale der jüdischen Altestenrate in Ost – Oberschlesien) in October 1940, there were 23,319 Jews living in the town. In March 1941, this number increased to 24,149, and four months later, it grew to 27,420.
The first administrative decisions targeting the Jewish population were economic in their nature and primarily involved restrictions on their ownership of movable and immovable property, marking of stores, appointment of trustees to manage them, and limiting their ability to engage in trade freely. As early as September 1939, certain shops were designated where Jews could purchase bread, and shortly thereafter, other food products were only sold to them in specified stores and quantities. The end of Jewish commerce came with the regulation on price control issued in December 1939. According to its provisions, only Aryan-owned stores could operate in the Katowice region. An exception was made for establishments managed by trustees or overseen by Aryan managers.
At the end of October 1939, as part of the "Nisko" Operation, the first deportation of Sosnowiec's Jews took place. Three hundred individuals were sent to the town of Nisko on the San, where the main author of the operation, Adolf Eichmann envisioned a Jewish "colony" being established in the eastern territories of occupied Poland. There, under the threat of execution, those deported were forced to cross into areas occupied by the Soviet Union. Among this group were relatives of Sara Silfen, who was born in Sosnowiec in 1924 and recalled:
In late October, the Jewish Community issued a summons to several hundred men to organize transportation for them to be sent to the east. My older brother, at the age of 23, received such a summons. Among the young men from our extended family, only one married cousin with his wife and children and another cousin who had incidentally traveled to Kielce to bring food for the family were spared. The third cousin was a young boy of 7, and my 13-year-old brother was also among those who received the summons.
Shortly thereafter, approximately 1,500 men and women were gathered in the city, and there were plans to send them to Nisko as well. However, this transport was ultimately canceled. Nevertheless, this did not mean that those designated for the transport were allowed to return home. They were placed in the Schön factory located on ul. 1 Maja and were forced to perform heavy labour within the city.
Isolation and stigmatisation  
Sosnowiec's Jewish population faced restrictions on the use of public facilities; for instance, they were not allowed to attend the two cinemas in the city, Zagłębie and Patria. By the end of 1939, specific streets were designated for their movement, and people residing on ul. Pierackiego [now Zwycięstwa], Małachowskiego, and parts of ul. 3 Maja were evicted from their homes. Shortly afterward, these streets were marked as Judenbann. In tram cars, there were specially cordoned-off areas for Jews separated by chains. In 1941, one tram car with Jewish personnel was allocated to them as the third carriage, marked with a blue Star of David on white background with the inscription nur für Juden.
Starting from  1st of September 1940, all Jews above the age of six were required to wear a badge with the Star of David placed over their left breast when in public places. By the end of that month, they also had to carry a special identity document (Lichtbildausweis). Then, on 1st of May 1941, Walter Springorum, the President of the Katowice Region, issued a regulation stating that all Jews residing in the region had to adopt additional names: men were to use Israel, and women were to use Sara.
Forced labour
In October 1940, Heinrich Himmler appointed a Special Delegate of the Reichsführer SS and Chief of the German Police for Labour Force of Foreign Nationals in Upper Silesia (Sonderbeauftragter des Reichsführers SS und Chef der Deutschen Polizei für fremdvölkischen Arbeitseinsatz in Oberschlesien). He entrusted this position to Albrecht Schmelt, a forty-one-year-old who was head of the police in Breslau at the time. The main task of this delegate was to oversee "the complete utilization of Jewish labour," which included making decisions regarding the sending of individuals of Jewish faith to forced labour camps and regulating their employment in collective workshops (Samelwerkstätten), managed by trustees (treuhänder), who were Aryans.
In the late spring and summer of 1942, the first mass "evictions" of the Jewish population were carried out in Sosnowiec. The Germans and officials from the Head Office of Jewish Councils of Elders in Eastern Upper Silesia used this euphemistic term to refer to the deportation of people to the Holocaust at the Auschwitz concentration camp. As a result of these actions, from 1st of May to 20th of August 1942, the number of Jews in the city decreased by 6,520.
The biggest operation of this type was carried out on 12th of August of that year. Before it commenced, the Central Council sent notifications calling on Jews to report to assembly points. In Sosnowiec, these points were designated at the sports field on Al. Mireckiego and in seven of the largest workshops. By seven o'clock in the morning, nearly 25,000 people had gathered at these locations. Three hours later, Jewish police officers received orders to bring people from the workshops to the stadium, and at four o'clock in the afternoon, armed SS men arrived, surrounding the area. The operation was organized under the pretext of checking personal documents. It lasted for two days, during which the Germans divided the Jews into four groups. The first group consisted of families whose adult members were not employed and had no small children; after their documents were stamped, they were to be released. The next group included young, unemployed individuals or those with a sonder, which was a work certificate from a private company. These individuals were to be sent to labour camps. The third group was for families in which there were both employed and unemployed members, as well as small children – the decision regarding their fate had not been made yet and required further consultations. The last group consisted of the elderly, the unemployed, and individuals with invalid sonders – all of whom were destined to face death at the Auschwitz concentration camp.
Początek formularza
Creation and liquidation of the ghetto
The resettlement into closed Jewish districts, although they were not surrounded by walls or barbed wire, began in early October 1942. In Sosnowiec, they were established outside the town centre, in Polish working-class neighbourhoods, specifically in Stary Sosnowiec and Środula. Over time, the first of these ghettos were dissolved because they primarily housed elderly individuals who were unable to work. Shortly thereafter, they were deported to the Auschwitz concentration camp, and the remaining residents were relocated to Środula. Natan Eliasz Szternfinkiel wrote that the living conditions in the ghetto were horrendous from the beginning, and in April 1943, with the arrival of additional residents from Stary Sosnowiec, they became truly catastrophic:
The housing conditions in Środula were terrible. During the resettlement action, people brought only a small portion of their belongings into the ghetto, leaving the rest to fate. However, the cramped living quarters made it impossible to accommodate even these essential belongings. When the Gestapo ordered all Jews from the ghetto in Stary Sosnowiec to move to Środula by the end of April [...] a fierce struggle began for even the smallest scrap of living space. Jews lived in groups of 10 to 15 people in one room. Thousands of people roamed the streets, unable to find shelter.
In the ghetto in Środula, nearly 20,000 people were confined. They lived in such overcrowded conditions for several months, and then on the night of  31st of July to 1st of August 1943, the liquidation action of the Jewish district began, lasting for two weeks. On the very first day, two transports of almost 4,000 people were sent to KL Auschwitz, of which 866 (396 men and 470 women) were directed to the camp as prisoners, while the rest were immediately killed in gas chambers.
On the site of the liquidated ghetto, a labour camp was established. It housed a group of several hundred men and women who were ordered to clean up the area and complete work in Rudolf Braun's workshop. They were accommodated in several houses in Środula. Over time, the number of camp inmates increased as people who had successfully hidden in bunkers and ruins joined them. At one point, there were 1,600 people in the camp. In mid-December 1943, around 800 Jews were deported from Środula to Auschwitz-Birkenau, and the remaining individuals stayed there for just under a month. On 13th of January 1944, the camp was liquidated, and the last few hundred people shared the fate of their fellow inmates. As Natan Eliasz Szternfinkiel wrote at the end of his monograph:
After the "resettlement actions" and deportations to labour camps, the large Jewish community of Sosnowiec, totalling 28,000 souls, was completely devastated.


 The reactions of Poles to the Holocaust of the Jewish population in Sosnowiec (1942 – 1944)
   The attitudes of the Polish residents of Sosnowiec towards the suffering of their Jewish neighbours varied and were often influenced by pre-existing social or professional contacts. In the early stages of the war, from 1939 to 1941, Jews sporadically sought help from Polish neighbours and acquaintances. During this time, they did not yet have such a need because it was relatively safe for them. They were not persecuted on the same scale as their fellow Jews in the General Government, and there were no mass deportations in the Dąbrowa Basin region. Minor displacements occurred within local communities, and beggars were not a common sight on the streets. Most Jews had jobs, and those in need were cared for by the Head Office of Jewish Councils of Elders in Eastern Upper Silesia, which operated a social welfare department.
   However, this does not mean that the Jewish population had no contact with Poles at all. On the contrary, there were active interactions, particularly due to their involvement in illegal trade. The peak of such activities occurred from the end of 1940 to the second half of 1941. Jews residing in Sosnowiec were not entirely separated from the "Aryan" population, and there were instances of them boycotting Nazi regulations. This is evidenced, among other things, by reports prepared by the commander of the V Section of the Protection Police in Sosnowiec. In a letter dated 20th of November1944, he noted that some of the Jews working in shops supervised by "Aryan" managers did not wear David's star armbands. Consequently, Polish and German customers were unaware of their identity.
 Cooperation was also conducted on the clandestine front. Polish involvement in this matter was mainly demonstrated by individuals associated with the Polish Socialist Party - Freedom, Equality, Independence (PPS - WRN). Already at the end of 1939, members of the Sosnowiec leadership of the organization provided Jews with identity documents issued under Polish names, supplied them with food and medical supplies, and later helped them cross the border into the General Government.
   After the mass deportations from Sosnowiec in the late spring and summer of 1942, the relocation of Jews to the ghetto in Środula, and its subsequent liquidation in August 1943, some Poles without scruples took over their apartments and belongings. Sara Silfen, who was fifteen years old at the outbreak of the war, remembered this as an older woman:
   During this tragic period when Jews had to leave their previous homes [as described by the woman, these events took place during the eviction action in Środula], some Poles began visiting them. They often came with sacks to wealthy houses, opened apartment doors with indifference, went to the cupboards themselves, and took the most expensive porcelain, crystal, or bed linens. In exchange, they left some food. With cynicism, they would say, "You won't need this anymore." To our former neighbor, a Polish woman came, opened the closet, and began laying out new bed linens, hand-embroidered tablecloths. In return, she placed two sausages as payment. When this neighbor mentioned that this was a dowry for her daughter, which she had been collecting for years, the Polish woman replied, "Your daughter no longer needs a dowry." Some of those who came would say, "It's better if it stays in our country because Germans will confiscate it anyway, and we even pay for it with food."
   However, there were also individuals who not only refrained from attempting to profit from Jewish suffering but paid the ultimate price to alleviate it. After the liquidation of the ghetto in Środula, there were still people hiding in ruins and bunkers, for whom the chance of survival depended on being smuggled to the "Aryan" side. Roman Kołodziej from Michałkowice, a deserter from the German army, took on this task. He led people to apartments, hiding spots, and bunkers mainly located in Michałkowice and Katowice. He tragically lost his life during one of these missions on the 2nd of January 1944, while escorting three Jews out of the ghetto.
   The reactions of the Polish population to the Holocaust of Jews in Sosnowiec cannot be summarized in a single pattern as they defy stereotypes. They were influenced by many factors, both societal and individual, driven by emotional, material, cultural, and religious considerations. The harsh realities of war also played a significant role, bringing out extreme traits in people, both noble and unworthy, altruistic and selfish.


Polish-Jewish relations in Sosnowiec in the interwar period (1918 – 1939)
An important moment for national minorities in Poland, following its regaining of independence, was the signing of the Minority Treaty during the Versailles Conference on 28th of June 1919. This treaty, also known as the "Little Treaty of Versailles," guaranteed the protection of their rights. The document stated that members of ethnic and religious minorities had the right to establish schools and charitable, cultural, and religious institutions in their own language at their own expense. The state was obliged to finance public schools which taught in the national language. The League of Nations was responsible for monitoring the compliance with these provisions. However, the Jewish population in Poland was not satisfied with this solution, as the treaty did not include their main demand, which was providing national and cultural autonomy. On the other hand, Poles believed that the treaty was unjust to them and gave too much freedom to the minorities.
In the Second Polish Republic, the Jewish population constituted a distinct and characteristic community of over three million people, largely preserving their religion and customs. They were visible on the streets of the largest cities, and numerous shtetls (small towns) in the eastern parts of Poland became a natural part of the local landscape. Jews posed strong competition in the labour market, and some professions were dominated by them. The return of the Polish state to the world map marked a new chapter in Polish-Jewish history, a chapter that often cast a shadow over their relationship.
Discrimination against the Jewish population in Sosnowiec became evident during the municipal elections held on 9th of March 1919. During these elections, 44 councilors and 22 deputies were elected, who were to assume office in case of a sudden vacancy. The Polish Socialist Party (PPS) won the most mandates and secured thirteen seats on the council. Following them was the National Democracy, which formed the Polish Bourgeois Club and placed ten representatives in the council. Jewish groups presented four lists, resulting in nine individuals being elected to the council. Additionally, seven individuals represented the National Workers' Union, and five came from the Property Owners Association of Pogoń. Dr. Karol Zahorski, associated with the National Democrats, became the chairman of the council. The town board was also formed, consisting of two members from PPS, two from the Polish Bourgeois Club, and one representative from the National Workers' Union. Jews did not have a representative because Polish councilors refused to endorse the candidate put forward by them.
Tensions in Polish-Jewish relations were also intensified by economic rivalry. Polish entrepreneurs called for boycotting Jewish businesses, and their appeals found fertile ground. There is a written account of such an incident that took place on 29th of February 1936:
[...] there was an attempt at a boycott by the National Party between 18:30 and 18:45. During this time, a group of 11 individuals boycotted the store of Liberman Pinkus and then demonstrated in the streets, shouting slogans such as "Away with the Jews!" "Don't buy from Jews!" "Beat the Jews!" and so on. Police intervention led to the arrest and detention in Mysłowice of Roman Frankowski, Romuald Jaskulski, and Franciszek Łuczak. In retaliation, the dispersed demonstrators, angered by the police, smashed several windows in private homes and storefronts of Jewish shops.
Anti-Semitic incidents were primarily instigated by youth supporting National Democracy. In November 1931, around 3,000 followers of the party organized a demonstration during which two Jews were injured. Tragic events unfolded at the end of November 1935. While over 1,000 people were protesting in the streets, unknown perpetrators planted an explosive device under the local Beth Midrash (house of study). As a result of the explosion, two boys were injured, and a fourteen-year-old who was hospitalized with severe injuries died several days later. In 1936, within less than four months, two more terrorist attempts occurred. In March, an explosive device was found in the courtyard of a synagogue on ul. Dekerta, and in June, a bomb was discovered in the Bristol hotel, owned by a Jewish family. In November 1938, another bomb was planted at a synagogue. The police arrested five right-wing activists at that time, who admitted to the charges against them and were sentenced to imprisonment. In June 1938, three Poles beat a sixteen-year-old student of a yeshiva [a Talmudic school for unmarried boys typically aged between 13-14 and up to their twenties], stripped him of his clothes, and took them away.
Although Polish-Jewish relations in Sosnowiec during the interwar period were not entirely free from anti-Semitism, they did not lead to mass pogroms, prolonged boycotts of Jewish businesses, or the plundering of their shops and homes, such as occurred in other parts of Poland [for example, in Myślenice, on 23rd of June 1936, in Brześć on the Bug on 13th of May 1937, or in Przytyk near Radom, where three people died in riots – two Jews and one Pole].
One of the important factors contributing to this situation was the fact that Poles worked for wealthier Jews. Both men and women were employed in the industrial enterprises run by Jews, and women often worked as childminders, housekeepers, and cleaners in Jewish households. Polish employees praised the working conditions in Jewish businesses and homes, and they held their employers in high regard and had friendly relationships with them.
After the outbreak of the Second World War, especially after 1942 when the principles of the Final Solution to the Jewish Question began to be implemented in the city, these bonds had a significant impact on their subsequent decisions. The people who had provided them with jobs that ensured their families' livelihoods suddenly became dependent on them. In a sense, the roles were reversed, but the stakes were incomparably higher. Jews used to provide Poles with a means of earning a living. Now, Poles could potentially save their former employers and their relatives from death. They understood the risks to which they were exposing themselves and their loved ones, but they could not turn their backs on persecuted individuals and often they were the first to extend a helping hand to them.


Who are Righteous Among the Nations?
In the talmudic tradition
   The notion of Righteous Among the Nations (hebr. Chasidim Umot ha – Olam) is deeply rooted in the Jewish history, religion, and culture. On the medals granted to the Righteous, apart from their names, there are the words: Whoever saves one life saves the world entire. This is a direct reference to the Talmud (Babylonian Talmud, Sanhedrin, 37a). According to the most important collection of religious laws observed by followers of Judaism, they concern the God-fearing and good non-Jews, whose behaviour contributes to protecting humanity against the wrath of God. According to tradition, in each generation there are thirty six hidden Righteous (hebr. cadikim nistarim).
In the context of the Holocaust
   After World War II, the phrase Righteous Among the Nations took on a new meaning and became associated with people who saved the Jewish population from extermination.
   By decision of the Israeli parliament from 19th of August 1953, Yad Vashem, the Holocaust Martyrs' and Heroes' Remembrance Authority was called into being in Jerusalem. It started its actual activity five years later and one of its statutory tasks became honouring people who, putting in danger themselves and their loved ones, and sometimes entire communities living in a given place, brought help to Jewish population during Nazi occupation. Within the institution, the Righteous Among the Nations Department was created, and from 1963 a committee began to function lead by a Judge of the Supreme Court of Israel, whose task is to analyse materials concerning saving Jews. Its first head was Moshe Landau, who had presided over the Adolf Eichmann trials. After analysing the documents, the committee makes a decision, based on which certificates of honour and medals of Righteous Among the Nations are granted (or not). The title is only bestowed on non-Jews. The same criteria must be met by candidates for receiving the medal from all countries of the world.
   Righteous Among the Nations are people who, during World War II, acted to save one or more Jews, and who faced the possibility of death or concentration camp for their actions, or other forms of repression, and who had no financial gain or other profit from the aid they provided. Moreover, there must exist testimony of those saved, or at least unambiguous documentation describing the form of the aid offered and the circumstances. The basis for applying for the title is notarial attestation by the person saved or their relatives. In exceptional situations, applications may also be made by the candidates themselves, their relatives, and direct witnesses of the past events. However, these applications have only auxiliary function and should contain as much detail as possible about the survivor(s), in order to help the researchers contact them to verify the events.
The procedure of awarding the title
   It is long and complicated. The first actions are undertaken by the Righteous Department at the Yad Vashem Institute. After receiving an application, its staff search various sources for information identical with the application document. The case is overseen by a person familiar with the language in which evidence has been gathered. When sufficient material has been collected and verified, the department presents it to a committee. It is then once again closely analysed by the one of its members who knows the given language. This person next prepares a final protocol and only after it has been accepted, the decision becomes official. Every year around four – five hundred titles are awarded.
   The Yad Vashem Institute does not initiate search. If the survivor has not preserved contact with the family of the person who saved their life, or has no idea at all about the identity of the people who helped them (and this has often been the case), did not know their relatives or didn’t know how to perform the search on their own, they could not expect the Jerusalem institution to do the work instead.
   Until the end of 1990 on a hill near the Institute every recipient of the title (or their relative) could plant an olive tree to commemorate the person. Later, for lack of space, this custom was abandoned, and the names of the Righteous began to be placed on stone plaques.
   So far, the title of Righteous Among the Nations has been awarded to 28,217 people (this is the most recent data, for 1st of January 2022) from 51 countries. The most numerous group – 7,232 medals – has been Poles. Among them are eminent personalities from the world of culture and art, such as writers Igor Abramow – Newerly or Jarosław Iwaszkiewicz (with his wife), actors Mieczysław Fogg and Aleksander Zelwerowicz or the poet Jerzy Zagórski, but the list represents a full cross-section of the Polish society. There are men and women of various ages on the list, university professors and illiterate peasants, widely respected figures and people from margins of the society, inhabitants of greatest cities and farmers from tiny villages, teachers, doctors, priests, nuns, labourers, nursemaids, servants, wealthy factory owners and others. People coming from diverse world who at peace time would have nothing to do with each other, and in the times of terror and death lurking at every step were brought together by one thing. As the philosopher and sociologist Gérard Rabinovitch wrote: They responded to a call that was the misery of the hunted”. The call was also answered by inhabitants of Sosnowiec and its surrounding area, who under Nazi occupation saved the lives of local Jews.

Mother Mary Teresa of St. Joseph – Janina Kierocińska (1885 – 1946)
The Way to Religious Life
Janina Kierocińska was born on 14th of June 1885 in Wieluń in the then Russian partition. She was the seventh of ten children of Antoni and Antonina Kierociński. Her father was a farmer and miller, her mother took care of the house and raised numerous offspring. Janina grew up in a patriotic, deeply faithful and practicing family.
As an adolescent, she decided to join an order. In 1910, she moved permanently to Krakow and began her independent life there. She got a job at an embroidery school run by the Carmelite Tertiary Aniela Zawadzka (she was associated with the order, but the rules of the monastery did not apply to her). In 1911, she joined the Secular Carmelite Order in Krakow, taking the name Teresa, and four years later she joined the Brotherhood of the Miraculous Infant Jesus of Prague.
General Superior of the Congregation of the Carmelite Sisters of the Infant Jesus in Sosnowiec (1921 – 1946)
The year 1921 was a breakthrough in her life, when Father Anselm Gądek, the first provincial of the Polish Province of Discalced Carmelites and Janina's confessor, asked her to head the female religious congregation he had established. On the 31st of December 1921. Janina put on a monastic habit taking the name Teresa from St. Joseph and together with five other candidates went to Sosnowiec. There, the community was joined by other sisters who took up work in the establishments of the Christian Society of Charity led by Fr. Franciszek Raczyński (1874–1941). In the autumn of 1924 Mother Teresa Kierocińska bought a house at ul. Wiejska 25, which became the home of the congregation.
Carmelite women helped the poor by providing them with food and medical assistance, opened a free nursery for children from the poorest families and a paid kindergarten for children from wealthier homes. In addition, they visited the homes of the sick and lonely.
Aid provided to the Jewish population in Sosnowiec during World War II
Maria Pinkus, Irena and Liliana (Marianna) Wilczyński
The Sosnowiec congregation, like many women's monasteries in occupied Poland, put special emphasis on saving children. It was obvious to the sisters that Jewish children were exposed to the greatest danger. In 1941, the ordinary confessor of the congregation was Fr. Wincenty Mieczysław Zawadzki (1894–1975), parson of the Holy Trinity parish in nearby Będzin, who himself provided assistance to the Jewish population in this town. After the first meeting with Mother Teresa, the priest knew that the religious house she managed was open to anyone in need of help, so when in 1941 Ms. Tropauer asked him to hide her relatives, he went there. In the archives of the Congregation of the Carmelite Sisters of the Infant Jesus in Sosnowiec, a report is kept in which he recalled:
The period of persecution of the Jews came. A certain Ms. Tropauer came to me with an elderly Ms. Pinkus and a little girl asking me to hide the girl and her Jewish grandmother. A thought came to me: "Mother Teresa will come to my aid." Indeed, despite the terrible danger, she took both of them into the Sisters' house and kept them there throughout the war. I know of many other cases where Mother General saved unfortunate Jewish children from certain death. And she did it with such simplicity, kindness and calmness, as if it were the simplest things, and not something that involves the risk of death.
The Jewish women in question were Maria Pinkus (née Tropauer) with her daughter and granddaughter – Irena (née Pinkus) and Liliana Wilczyński. Irena Wilczyński probably stayed in the monastery for a shorter time. Years later, Fr. Wincenty Mieczysław Zawadzki claimed that two more men soon arrived at the Carmelite house. One of them was to be Liliana's grandfather. Their presence in ul. Wiejska 25, however, raises doubts. Only the parish priest from Będzin mentioned these men and, as he himself emphasized, he did not arrange their concealment and did not know what their further fate was.
Both women and the girl were baptized. Liliana received the sacrament on  4th of March 1943 and was given the name Marianna, and her grandmother was baptized on 27th of April  of the same year, retaining her name and adding another, Zofia. From the records contained in the 1942–1946 baptism book of the parish of the Holy Trinity in Będzin shows that Irena Wilczyńska was baptized on 20th of October, 1943 in Kalisz by Fr. Mieczysław Jankowski.
Maria Pinkus and Liliana Wilczyńska left the monastery shortly after the end of the war. The woman married Benjamin Morowitz and converted again to Judaism, while her granddaughter returned to her former name. In November 1950, the family left Poland and went to Israel. Maria and Benjamin lived in Tel Aviv, while Liliana settled in kibbutz Giwat Brenner.
Liliana Wilczyńska died on 16th of January 1951 at the age of less than 15. Maria Morowitz passed away on 7th of September, 1970, and her husband Benjamin on 17th of May, 1965. All three were buried in Kiryat Shaul cemetery in Tel Aviv. Irena Wilczyńska, Liliana's mother, survived the war and remained in Poland. Her mental condition deteriorated significantly, so she was transferred to the Care and Treatment Facility in Piekary Śląskie, where she died on 15th of July, 1991.
Teresa Jadwiga Jaworska (Theresa Johewet Rosendhal)
Mother Teresa's "favourite" was little Teresa, who was sent to the home of the mother congregation on 14th of January, 1944. The girl was born on 18th of January, 1943. Her father, Beno Friedrich, before the liquidation of the Sosnowiec ghetto in Środula in August 1943, put her in a Polish family [the names of its members are unknown], who later placed the child in a monastery.
The girl was staying at ul. Wiejska 25 until the end of the war and for several months after its end. Between May and October 1946, her biological mother, Maria Friedrich (née Epstein), came for her. Maria learned that Tereska was in the monastery from Poles who had previously taken care of the child. She was going to take her daughter, but to Tela, as the sisters affectionately called her, she was a stranger. Her beloved and only "mother" was Mother Teresa, and the home of the congregation was the only home she had. The girl's mother tried to convince her in various ways. Her efforts were described by a resident of Sosnowiec, Irena Staniszewska, who was a good friend of the superior of the congregation:
She came  [Tereska's mother – note M.M.] initially [...] only for the chapel service, and only after a few days did she tell Sister Jerome that this is her child. She came to visit Terenia from then on, but the girl did not want to go to her, she just ran constantly to her "mom" – M. Teresa. One day, the real mother forcibly put a chocolate in Tela's mouth. The child got some convulsions or tremors out of fear. Then, under the guise of taking her daughter to the doctor, she took the child and never came back. She lived in Katowice for some time, then reportedly went to Palestine, where Telka reportedly died.
Mania Friedrich did not go to Palestine with her daughter. In 2016 Tela, or actually Theresa Johewet Rosendhal, made contact with Carmelite nuns. During the meeting that took place in March 2018 in Sosnowiec, she said:
It was like this: my mother banished all the events of the war from her consciousness. I actually felt I shouldn't ask, so I didn't. And over time, I also suppressed these questions within myself. I stopped thinking about it and normal life just went on. Then I got married, gave birth to a son, and he later studied history. It was him who became interested in these historical threads. When he looked at my photo from the monastery, he asked – where was it? I did not know exactly – only that it was in Sosnowiec. So he enlarged this photo, found someone who knows Polish, found out on the Internet that in the area [of Sosnowiec] there are three monasteries to which he sent a letter with my photo. And suddenly, after 70 years, I received a letter from Poland.
Theresa Johewet Rosendhal insisted that her departure from the monastery was not accompanied by any coercion or even kidnapping. At first, she actually shunned her biological mother, but eventually accepted her, loved her, and came to terms with leaving. They went to Regensburg, Germany, together with their friend Mania Friedrich and her husband, whom they met in the camp. The woman emphasized that her mother never forgot the sacrifice and commitment of the sisters and was grateful to them for saving her daughter for the rest of her life. In Regensburg, Theresa studied at a school run by the Congregation of School Sisters de Notre Dame. After graduating, she studied in a junior high school and a business school. She worked as a secretary for many years, marrying Gideon Rosendhal on 14th of November 1971 and adopting Judaism. After some time, the spouses moved to Munich, where their only son Benjamin was born.
Andrzej Siemiątkowski
Andrzej Siemiątkowski also found asylum in the Sosnowiec house of the Congregation of the Carmelite Sisters of the Infant Jesus. The boy, who was 7 years old at the outbreak of World War II, was the son of the baptized Jewish woman Esther Maria Siemiątkowska (née Fiszer) and the Pole Jan Siemiątkowski. Mother Teresa prepared Esther Siemiątkowska for the adoption of the Catholic faith.
The nuns provided the boy with shelter during raids and roundups. His mother was exposed to constant danger, not only because of her origin, but also because of her membership in the resistance movement and helping Jews. Although these actions could have brought danger not only to her, but also to her son, she continued being involved in them until her arrest in September 1943. At the same time, she could always count on the help of Mother Teresa. Years later, Andrzej Siemiątkowski described their cooperation as follows:
In September  [the man confused the months, it was August 1942], when all the Jews living in our city were gathered in the stadium at al. Mireckiego, where they were staying in very difficult conditions, outdoors, in the rain and in the school building at ul. Składowa, my mother, wishing to relieve the Jews detained in inhumane conditions, turned to the superior of the Carmelite convent for help. Mother Teresa brought some loaves of bread that my mother and aunt Warecka  [Jan Siemiątkowski's cousin]  took to the stadium.
After Estera Siemiątkowska was arrested by the Gestapo and sent to Auschwitz, her son regularly used the help of the sisters. He was an altar boy in the monastery chapel, went to the religious house for lunch and bread, and hid there more and more often.
The boy continued his mother's activities after her arrest. For providing food to Jews hiding in the area of the liquidated ghetto, he was detained several times by the Gestapo. In September 1944, he was sent to the Birkenau camp for two months and from there he was to be deported to Germany, but thanks to his father's efforts, he was released and returned home. Andrzej Siemiątkowski died on 14th of June 1998 in Sosnowiec at the age of 66.
The Congregation of the Carmelite Sisters of the Infant Jesus in Sosnowiec provided assistance not only to the Jewish population. The nuns also supported the Polish resistance movement and regularly sent parcels to people imprisoned in forced labour and concentration camps.
Mother Teresa Kierocińska died on 12th of July 1946 in Sosnowiec after severe peritonitis. In the 1980s, Andrzej Siemiątkowski took steps to grant her the title of Righteous Among the Nations. It was awarded on 19th of February 1992.

Florentyna and Franciszek Nowak
   In 1900 r. at Modrzejowska 11 in Sosnowiec, a Jew by the name of Jakub Zorski, a young enthusiast of photography from Częstochowa opened a photographic studio, which very soon gained great popularity and renown. In his new place of habitation he married Róża Jasny, daughter of a wealthy merchant Abram Jasny, whose trusted domestic servant was Florentyna Nowak. Many years later, grandson of Jan and Róża Zorski, Józef, remembered:
   When on 28th of February 1915 my father Zygmunt was born, Florentyna became his nanny. After Abram’s death, she worked at the Zorski house. She was much more to my family than simply a servant.
   Apart from Zygmunt, the Zorskis had three more children – son Tadeusz and daughters Lusia and Mietka. After the ghetto was created in Środula, the family prepared a hiding place in the studio. Another shelter, a cache under the floor of their house at ul. Dekerta, was arranged for them by Florentyna Nowak and her husband Franciszek. The space was not big, only several people could fit inside, able almost exclusively to lie down, and perhaps lift slightly on their elbows, but not to sit up.
   Despite these preparations, the Zorski family found themselves in the ghetto. The appalling housing situation, food shortages and hygienic conditions, resettlement operations and rumours of the final extermination of the Sosnowiec Jews, repeated with increasing frequency, influenced Zygmunt’s decision to escape. He realised that to save himself and his younger siblings he’d have to abandon their parents. Their only chance of survival was to hide at the Nowaks place, and there wasn’t enough room for all of them there. His son wrote:
   Father’s family was in the ghetto […] in very bad conditions. Constant resettlements, hiding from repeated “operations”, bad housing conditions, lack of food and sanitation – all of this made his decision to run away more urgent. In the spring of 1943, when resettlements intensified, father planned his escape. He knew only himself and his two siblings would be able to leave the ghetto (his other sister, Mietka, was lost in unclear circumstances), but not their parents. For them there was no room in the “bunker”. Father never spoke of the decision made at this time. He ran from a file of people going to work outside the ghetto. First him, and several das later his sister and brother. They all met at the Nowak place.
   The Zorski siblings – Zygmunt, Tadeusz and Lusia – remained in hiding at the Florentyna and Franciszek Nowak place for 18 months. They stayed in a corner behind a curtain, where they were only able to squat, or in the hiding place beneath the floor, in which they only lay. They were silent nearly all the time, never talking to each other, since – because of the neighbours – such precautions were necessary. They mainly fed on boiled potato peels, very rarely eating bread, because buying amounts larger than the official rations was not only difficult, but also risky, as people very often paid special attention to clients buying more food, suspecting they are hiding Jews.
   The young Zorski had a little money from selling their mother’s jewellery. The jeweller who bought the last diamond ring from Franciszek probably guessed who had given it to the Pole, but never gave him away. The money for the ring was only enough for Nowak to buy four loaves of bread.
   The couple took precautions against the hiding place being detected. Franciszek prepared a bucket with calcined lime, which he intended to kill potential intruders. Luckily, until the end of the war, the presence of the three Zaorskis in the house at ul. Dekerta was never revealed and this “weapon” never had to be put to use.
   After many months of living in constant fear of being caught, in January of 1945, the long-awaited liberation came. Józef Zorski, based on his conversations with his father, remembered it thus:
   In late January of 1945 there was silence in the area – the Germans had fled the city. Soon the Red Army came. Father and his siblings didn’t find courage to leave the Nowaks’ basement for another couple of days. When they came out to ul. Dekerta, sunlight blinded them so that they couldn’t see properly, and they had trouble walking too. My grandparents and other relatives had died in Auschwitz.
   When the war was over, the photographic studio was taken over by Zygmunt Zorski. He married a Cracow native Helena Szächter, who had also lost her parents in the Holocaust. In 1947 their son Józef was born, followed by a daughter named Irena. Their nanny was none other than Florentyna Nowak, who looked after another generation of the Zorski family. For Józef, just like for his father and his siblings, the Polish woman was a special person. She filled the gap in his life left by his murdered grandparents:
   In 1947, when I was born, I was brought up by my parents and Florentyna, whom myself and my sister Irena called Florcia. When in the aftermath of the antisemitic campaign of March 1968 my family emigrated in 1969 to Sweden, I felt enormous regret at having parted with Florcia. She was like an adoptive grandmother, she replaced my grandparents, but more importantly, she had saved three human beings from certain death.
   Józef Zorski graduated from the Emilia Plater Secondary School in Sosnowiec. He was in the fourth year of his medical studies in Zabrze, when an antisemitic campaign broke out in late sixties in Poland. That was when his family decided to emigrate. Helena had left for Göteborg in Sweden back in 1968, and Zygmunt joined her with his son in October of 1969. In the new country, Józef completed his studies and worked his entire life as a doctor.
   After almost seventy years, the Zorski photographic studio was sold for a low, practically symbolic amount. It is not known who bought it and what its later fate was. Today there is no trace left of it.
   For saving the lives of Zygmunt, Tadeusz, and Lusia Zorski, Florentyna and Franciszek received the titles of Righteous Among the Nations on 14th of May 2018.


Stanisława Cicha (1897 – 1980)
   Stanisława Cicha was born on the 24th of February 1897 in Sosnowiec and lived at ul. Dziewicza 29 (Nikolaistraße during the Second World War). Between the years 1940 and 1944, a total of 24 Jews found refuge in her apartment. During this time, some of them left voluntarily or were apprehended by Germans after briefly leaving their hiding place, but they were replaced by more people in need of assistance. One of them was Regina Landwirt (after the war Biesam), who wrote on the 29th of October 1963 in the Israeli newspaper (later magazine), Israel News and Courier:
   […] This was in the year 1943, during the general eviction of Jews. They had already taken my husband. I escaped by a miracle – Mrs. Stanisława Cicha took me in. When I found myself in her apartment, I learned that I wasn't the only one this noble woman was saving. Anyone who came to her apartment window at night found asylum. Some of the Jews rebelled, saying that there were already too many people, which could risk exposure. Mrs. Cicha replied that everyone wants to live. She secretly collected bread ration coupons. She did everything in her power to ensure we didn't go hungry. Mrs. Cicha showed me a lot of kindness, but she sacrificed herself for everyone. Once, I fell seriously ill after an accident, and I got an infection. In the middle of the night, she took me to a trusted doctor who, after examining me, immediately referred me for surgery. Every hour was precious. Mrs. Cicha arranged "Aryan papers" for me. During my stay in the hospital, this woman, risking herself, would come to visit me, bringing me food so that I could recover more quickly. It took about 2 months because complications arose after the surgery […].
   Regina Landwirt stayed in the hospital under a false name, Maria Mazur. As mentioned in the above excerpt, she claimed to have arrived at Stanisława Cicha's house in August 1943, during the "general eviction of Jews," which refers to the ghetto liquidation operation in Środula, conducted in the first days of August 1943. However, the Polish woman stated in her testimony, given on 3rd of June 1970, before the district court in Sosnowiec, that she had taken her in during 1942. The Jewish woman survived the war and emigrated to Israel, where she married a waiter with called Biesam.
   Stanisława Cicha provided the personal information of 13 individuals she had been hiding. Some of them survived, and after the war, they maintained regular contact with her. In the protocol from the mentioned interrogation, she listed, among others, the seven-member Silberberg family from Chrzanów. They were:     The 73-year-old resident of Sosnowiec described what happened to members of this family:
   […] As for Mojsze Silberberg and his wife, they were arrested about two years before my arrest [Gestapo officers arrested Stanisława Cicha in March 1944] when they left their hideout to attend some Jewish gathering in the city. Later, the Jews reported that the Silberberg couple had been taken to a camp and were executed. As for Malcia Silberberg, she was arrested along with me, and then disappeared without a trace, so I believe she was executed. Rózia Silberberg is currently in New York, she often sends me gifts and holiday greetings. Rózia Silberberg got married and now goes by the name Skier […]. Srulik Silberberg was arrested shortly after me and was also executed. Bella Silberberg is in California I think, but I have no detailed information about her. Sala Wach[s]man lives in New York, she runs some business, and she writes to me very often.
   From Chrzanów, a 28-year-old owner of a knitting factory, Henryk Mandelbaum, also came to her. He hid at ul. Dziewicza 29 from 1942 until March 1944. The man survived and after the war, he lived in Germany.
   Stanisława Cicha provided shelter to Mojsze Silberberg's friends from Jaworzno, Jakub and Dora Klein, who were arrested along with the Silberberg couple after leaving their hideout. They were soon after murdered.
   The last three individuals mentioned by her were the Kornwasser brothers, Motek and Jankiel, and their friend Saul Wasser. The brothers ran a shop in Sosnowiec, and Saul worked for them as a shop assistant. All three of them hid with the Polish woman until March 1944. After the war, they moved to the United States and settled in California.
   She also facilitated the hiding of Frymeta and Jerzy Feder, her acquaintances from Sosnowiec, in the house of her friend Maria Sitko. She had previously offered to take them into her own home, but the spouses were afraid that too many people in the hideout would expose her.
   In March 1944, Stanisława Cicha was arrested by the Gestapo. After a short period in prison, she was sent to the Ravensbrück camp, where she stayed until its liberation on 30th of April 1945. Towards the end of the interrogation, she said:
   My husband, Rudolf Cichy, was aware of the help I provided to Jews [he worked in forced labour in the Reich from 1940 to April 1944, with only a few short leaves]. In the spring, more precisely in March 1944, someone informed on me for hiding Jews, and eight Jewish individuals who were hiding in my home were arrested along with me. Some Jews were not arrested, even though they were also in hiding; they simply weren't discovered. After the arrest, I was repeatedly beaten during interrogations. I survived only because the Jews who were arrested with me testified that they had forced me to hide them and that I was terrorized by them. In the end, I was placed in the Ravensbrück camp, where I stayed until the end of the war.
   Stanisława Cicha made all decisions related to saving the Jewish population independently and emphasized that she viewed helping the persecuted as a moral duty, expecting no material gain from them.
   She passed away on 24th of October 1980, at the age of 83. An image painted by Sara Wachsman was placed in her coffin. Six years later, the District Commission for the Investigation of Nazi Crimes in Katowice informed the Main Commission for the Investigation of Nazi Crimes in Warsaw that they intended to apply for Stanisława and Rudolf Cicha to be recognized as Righteous Among the Nations. However, by that time, Stanisława had already passed away, and her husband Rudolf was not listed in the Registry of the Population Movement Office in Sosnowiec. Efforts to locate relatives who could receive the medals and diplomas were also unsuccessful (Stanisława and Rudolf did not have children, and nothing was known about their extended family). All these complications meant that it was only on 26th of June 2005, that the Yad Vashem Institute recognized Stanisława Cicha as Righteous Among the Nations. Her husband did not receive this title.

Pelagia Huczak – Springer (1918 - ?)
 Pelagia Huczak was born on 16th of April 1918 in Będzin. Her father was an organist, and her mother Salomea took care of the house and raised her five children. After a few years, the family moved to Sosnowiec. Pelagia's father died there, and after some time her mother married Jan Rogoziński, with whom she had three sons – Adam, Alfred and Wiktor. In an interview recorded for the Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, conducted on 2nd of July 1987 in Pelagia Huczak-Springer's apartment in Tel Aviv, the woman recalled that at home, both in the family and after Salomea's remarriage, children were taught from an early age that respect was due to every person, regardless of one's origin, skin colour or religion.
 Shortly before the outbreak of World War II, Pelagia started working in a Jewish shoemaking workshop, specializing in the production of children's shoes and slippers, run by a father-in-law and a son-in-law, who founded the company Lajzerowicz – Springer. During the occupation, after the "Aryanizing" of Jewish property, at the request of her employers, she became its manager. The men wanted to entrust her with another of their factories, but they were afraid that the Germans would not agree to it, so they combined both workshops and the woman managed a company where Jews and Poles worked. Later, she was replaced by the German treuhänder, but she still played an important role in the factory, as the new supervisor had no experience in the shoemaking industry. Among other things, she had impact on the number of people employed in it.
 The radicalization of German policy towards the Jewish population in Sosnowiec, especially the first mass displacements carried out in the late spring and summer of 1942 and the creation of the ghetto in Środula a few months later, meant that more and more people sought refuge on the "Aryan" side. In the aforementioned recording, Pelagia Huczak – Springer said that at that time she was approached by Jews who not only asked her to find them some work, but also to hide their loved ones on the premises of the plant:
 Each time they repeated that there was to be an "action" at night [displacement action]. They were afraid that their families would be deported to the camps. One day I hid 24 Jews in the attic of the factory. They were only supposed to stay for that one night to wait out the "action", but their presence dragged on for three days. The Poles working in the factory knew nothing or pretended that they knew nothing. But there was a Polish janitor living on the first floor of the plant, and I think he guessed something and reported me to the Germans, because they arrived for a search the very next day. I remember everything as clearly as if it happened yesterday. I was sitting in the office and through the window I noticed that a car entered the yard, from which four SS-men got out. Jews worked in the workshop, and their relatives - women, children and the elderly - were hidden in the attic. I went out into the yard to greet the "guests" and the question was immediately asked: "Wo hast du die Juden versteckt?" [where did you hide the Jews?] I pretended to be indignant: "There's no hidden Jews! The ones who are here are working and I don't need to hide them!" I led the Germans inside and showed them the busy Jews. After a while, one of them looked up at the attic and asked what was there. I said I could show them. I don't know how I got so brave, but on trembling legs I led them upstairs. In front of the hiding place where the Jews were, there was a small apartment with a kitchen, until recently occupied by a Polish guard. A new treuhänder threw him out and the apartment was empty. I led the Germans to him and asked offensively: "Where could I hide Jews here?" Then another SS-man pointed to a locked door behind which Jews were hiding and asked what was there. I answered that I don't know because no one ever opens that door. The German did not give up and wanted to find out where the keys to them were. I shrugged and said casually: “I don't know, maybe the treuhänder has them.” Actually, the keys were hidden behind my blouse, and at that moment I was bending under their weight, as if they weighed a ton. I waited for more questions or for them to break down the door, but then one of the Germans said: "I see by her looks that she is an honest woman, she can’t be lying." After these words, he and his company drove away, and I returned to the office and passed out.
 In May 1943, about 1,000 people, most of them children, were deported from the ghetto to Auschwitz. This information moved Pelagia so much that she decided to get five-year-old Wolf Springer, the son of Shlomo Springer, her pre-war employer, out of the ghetto. Saving the boy became a priority for her, but she also wanted to help other children. However, she did not know how to do it until she met a former client from Hajduki [currently it is a district of Chorzów] a Silesian named Naczyńska [she did not give her name]. Pelagia confessed to the woman that she would like to take at least two children from the ghetto. She asked the Silesian to hide them in her house if the action was successful. She promised her a hefty payment for it. After a moment of hesitation, Naczyńska agreed to take care of one child. Some time later, Pelagia put a band with the Star of David on her shoulder and entered the ghetto to talk to the Springers and present her plan to them.
 In getting Wolf out of the ghetto, she was "helped" by her niece, with whom she walked in the vicinity of Środula. At one point, the boy approached them [time and place was arranged in advance with his parents]. The children began to play with each other. After a while, there were planned fights and quarrels between them. Pretending to be their mother, Pelagia scolded them, took hands of both of them and walked with them towards the centre of Sosnowiec. She walked her niece home, and with Wolf she went to the corner of Harcerska and Szpitalna Streets, where her home was located, where she lived with her mother, stepfather and three half-brothers.
 Only Salomea was there, and she immediately agreed to hide the boy. A few hours later, Jan Rogoziński returned from work. At the sight of the child, he cried, and when he calmed down, he asked the stepdaughter to talk to him one-on-one and said:
  “That's beautiful of you, but you're 24 years old and do you know what responsibility you are taking on? Can you handle it?" I replied: "Daddy, whatever happens to us happens to this child." After these words, he smiled and hugged me tight.
 Pelagia agreed with Naczyńska that Wolf would stay with the Rogoziński family for a few days and then go to Hajduki, but after a few days the Silesian changed her mind and said that hiding a Jewish child was too dangerous. Therefore, the boy stayed in Sosnowiec for about a month. After that time, Pelagia decided at all costs to convince Naczyńska to take him in. She knew that Naczyńska and her husband were greedy for money and valuables, so she decided to pay them even more. During the next meeting, Pelagia handed Naczyńska a ring, a necklace, earrings and other valuable things that she had on her. She also promised that she would regularly pay for the boy's maintenance. Naczyńska agreed.
 Pelagia also managed to get the other members of the Springer family out of the ghetto: Shlomo and his brother Pinchas and their brother-in-law Majer Borenstein. She hid them in the attic of the factory. After some time, only her former supervisor remained there:
  After the Springers and Borenstein were evicted from the ghetto, I had to quickly find them a hiding place […].  I decided to hide them in the factory. There was a curfew, after which you could not leave the house. I asked the treuhänder to allow me to occupy a room in the workshop where I could sleep. I explained to him that this would allow me to keep an eye on the factory and I could react appropriately, for example, during a burglary. The German agreed, and I brought my friends and two other Jews to the facility. I stole shoemaking materials with which men used to finish shoes. Naczyńska, who ran the stall in Hajduki, took them and sold them. Thanks to this, the Jews felt needed and their time passed faster, and I had extra money to support Wolf. Just before the liquidation of the ghetto began, four men returned to Środula. There was only Szlomo Springer left in the factory, who wanted to finish the job. I couldn't hide him in the same place for long. Firstly, because the Germans regularly carried out searches, and secondly, the Jews themselves knew that I was helping their compatriots, so one day a large group of people could come to me, whom I would simply not be able to support. Then I made the decision to place Springer in the attic of an adjacent building that housed a factory run by a German treuhänder, an influential and ardent Nazi. The factory was deserted, because after the cessation of German production, he rarely appeared in it. My cousin helped me take Shlomo to a new hiding place.  She brought women's clothes we dressed him in and we entered the building unnoticed.
  In the attic of the abandoned factory, Shlomo Springer hid for several months. In the autumn of 1943 Pelagia installed an electric stove there and prepared a pallet to secure it for the coming winter. She also made him warm slippers and a hat and prepared the place for possible searches. Together with her brother and cousin, she brought approx. 50 bags of waste left after sewing shoes to the attic. They placed them in a circle, in the middle of which they left an empty space with a cut bag. In the event of a search, Szlomo was to put it on and "pretend" to be one of the scrap bags.
 After some time, the hideout was discovered due to the imprudence of Shlomo Springer. One day, he poured urine out of a bucket through a small window in the attic. A Pole passing by the factory noticed this and reported it to the police. The man, seeing the oncoming Germans, fled from the attic and ran through the yard to his old workshop. Pelagia let him into the treuhänder's office, and this most likely saved his life, as the police did not have the nerve to search the German manufacturer's office.
 In this situation, she decided to place Shlomo Springer in her home. Meanwhile, his brother Pinchas and Majer Borenstein turned to her again for help. Pelagia led all three to the Rogoziński family. Her half-brother Wiktor recalled that her parents agreed to hide the Jews without hesitation. However, they could not stay in their home for long, because a German arsenal was located in the vicinity, and was closely guarded by soldiers. After a few weeks, Pelagia placed Shloma's relatives elsewhere. Wiktor Rogoziński said that she did not tell her family where she took them, because in the event of a "bloomer" she intended to take all the responsibility. However, her former employer lived to see the end of the war in the attic of their house.
 Wolf Springer hid in Hajduki until January of 1945, after which Pelagia brought him to Sosnowiec. Shlomo lived with his son in his former factory. The Polish woman recalled that the man did not want to live in the city where he lost his wife, friends and the achievements of his whole life and intended to leave as soon as possible. Wolf, on the other hand, could not imagine life outside Sosnowiec, because here was Pelagia, to whom he became very attached. He wrote a poem in which he called her "mommy, mum" and repeated that he would not survive parting with her. His love for the woman who saved his life was fully reciprocated. For Wolf, Pelagia abandoned her country and family. She never regretted her decision:
  I could not imagine my life without Wolf, and what happened after the war only confirmed my conviction that I still had to take care of him. About two or three months after the liberation, Shlomo and Wolf moved to Bytom. I learned that one day Wolf was beaten up at school by a group of boys. These were not innocent, childish scuffles. They beat him because he was a Jew. I went to the parents of these bullies and told them that next time I would kill anyone who raised a hand against my child. It was for Wolf that I married his father in 1947, and three years later the three of us went to Israel. It was a marriage of love, but not love for the man, but for his child. I wanted to go there because I wanted my child to finally feel safe, so that no one would point fingers at him and call him "you Jew" with contempt. I also saved him after the war and I do not know which fight was more difficult. Whether the one for his physical survival or the struggle I fought to ensure a dignified life for him.
 In Israel, the boy changed his name to Zeev. Pelagia found a job at a hospital where she worked for 20 years. After the death of Shlomo Springer, she married for the second time, but the relationship was unsuccessful and quickly fell apart.
 Majer Borenstein also emigrated to Israel, and it was he who applied to the Yad Vashem Institute to honour Pelagia Huczak – Springer and her relatives with the titles of Righteous Among the Nations. Thanks to his efforts, the woman received a medal and a diploma on  25th of December 1984, and Salomea, Jan, Adam, Alfred and Wiktor Rogoziński were decorated on 27th of June 1985.
Katarzyna and Józef Myrta
   Before the outbreak of the Second World War, the couple was employed by the wealthy Jewish Zynger family, who had been in the scrap metal trade for generations. After Sosnowiec was occupied by Germans, they didn't abandon their former employers. They regularly supplied them with food and medicine, even after their move to the Środula ghetto. After the liquidation of the Jewish district, Henryk Zynger, his brother Richard, nieces Basia, Gustawa, and Lusia, as well as sister-in-law Ida Leslau, found refuge in a hideout prepared by Józef Myrta. Ida Leslau had previously lived in Będzin and was a wealthy woman before the war, owning three tenement buildings in her hometown. However, her properties were taken as part of the "aryanization of Jewish property," and all valuable possessions were sold off. In the summer of 1943, she moved to Sosnowiec to be with her relatives and took a job in Rudolf Braun's workshop. After the completion of the liquidation of the Środula ghetto, she was part of the group left to continue working in the workshop. In December 1943, as there were increasing rumours about the last workers of Braun's workshop being deported to Auschwitz concentration camp, she, along with her relatives, managed to escape from the ghetto and seek refuge with the Myrta family. This was made possible thanks to the assistance of a Christian acquaintance [she didn’t mention his name]. In her account, stored in the Jewish Historical Institute's archives, she recalled:
   Throughout our time in the workshop, we maintained contact with a Christian individual. He got in touch with our Polish acquaintance and informed her that we wanted to meet her on the evening of 1.1.1944, with the intention of hiding at her place. She agreed to this. We struggled to make our way from Środula to Sosnowiec and arrived at the agreed-upon apartment [...]. The apartment where we settled was something like a bunker. There were six of us. The room was on the second floor, adjacent to the shared living space. Between the kitchen and this little room, there was a cupboard with a hole made in it, through which we would pass. It was dark in that room, and our friends had used it for storage. They had rented this apartment specifically for us, to keep us alive. In this bunker, there was 1 bunk bed, with three people sleeping on the bottom and the other three on the top. We ate on top of a trunk containing our belongings [...]. We entered the kitchen from 10 at night until 1 in the morning. At that time, everyone was deep in sleep. During these hours, we would clean the bunker, do laundry, and my brother-in-law and the Aryan host would study maps and newspapers. One of us was always on duty, listening carefully for any approaching footsteps because the bolt from the cupboard was pulled back since there were no windows in the bunker, making it extremely stuffy. We were fortunate that no one lived on that floor except for our landlady, who was occasionally visited by her acquaintances, traders, and food suppliers[...]. As for food, our landlady would purchase everything, cook, and serve it to us through that hole [in the cupboard] three times a day. Our provisions were not the worst; we had money, but we lived in constant fear. Our landlady would continuously come and share tragic news about how the Germans were discovering Jews in bunkers and sending them to Auschwitz.
Soon, first suspicions appeared of the Myrtas hiding Jews:
   Once, [Katarzyna Myrta] came with news that she had met the wife of our former laborer, and she straight up told her that she knew she was hiding us. Simultaneously, she admitted that when making this statement, the laborer's wife blushed, making it even more suspicious. However, she did not admit to hiding us. Her acquaintances, who were puzzled by her extensive food purchases, often sent Germans to her house. They would show up during lunchtime, pretending to be looking for an address, and would inquire why she was cooking so many potatoes. We were now experiencing significant anxiety.
    To save the six Jews, the couple sacrificed the life of their one-year-old son, who fell ill with scarlet fever. According to the law, the doctor had an obligation to inform the authorities about the occurrence of an infectious disease to carry out the disinfection of the apartment. Katarzyna and Józef were aware that a visit from Germans would mean death for those in hiding, so they did not call the doctor, and after a few days, the child passed away.
   Ida Leslau remembered that the health department of the Sosnowiec town council still sent people to carry out the disinfection of the apartment:
   Our hostess […] took in my brother-in-law with his family selflessly, but because she was not doing well and had a small child, she only asked to keep that child. Unfortunately, that child soon fell ill with diphtheria [another name for scarlet fever is dysentery] and died. The mother was in despair. For several days, she did not enter our room or give us anything. After a few days, people from the Health Department came to carry out disinfection. Our situation was desperate because they would move the cupboard during disinfection. We advised the hostess to compensate the workers so that they would leave, and she could carry out the disinfection herself. They agreed, and fortunately, this matter passed smoothly."
   The six refugees hid in the shelter prepared by Józef Myrta until the entry of Soviet forces into Sosnowiec in January 1945. Ida Leslau emphasized that the Poles acted selflessly and never demanded any compensation from those in hiding, even though they knew they had money. Despite Katarzyna Myrta becoming increasingly terrified by the situation day by day, she never once suggested that they should leave the bunker.
   Ida Leslau and the Zynger family emigrated to Israel after the war. They wanted to repay their saviours, but once again, the Myrta family firmly refused to accept any payment. In 1965, at the invitation of the survivors, Katarzyna travelled to Israel and met with all the people whose lives she and her husband had saved. On 30th of November 1966, Yad Vashem, during a ceremony held at the institute's headquarters, awarded Katarzyna and Józef Myrta the title of Righteous Among the Nations, and a tree was planted in their honour in the Avenue of the Righteous.

Maria, Franciszek and Roman (1924 - ?) Dziurowicz
   Maria Dziurowicz had close friendships with several Jewish families before the outbreak of World War II. The events of the years 1939-1945 only deepened these bonds. In a statement she made in 1963, she wrote:
 I had Jewish neighbors with whom I was very close. The war in the years 1939 to 1945 and its consequences further connected me with my Jewish neighbors. The moment came when my neighbors, the Herszliks, Lenszners, Szwarcbergs, and many others, were forced to leave for the ghetto in Środula in Sosnowiec. The despair of these people broke my heart because I didn't know how to say goodbye to them. Conversations with them about their fate and conditions in the ghetto indicated that they were headed for complete perdition. I refuesed to believe it. Some sought shelter, a hiding place. Others took their belongings and went, relying on fate, thinking that something would save them from doom. They believed that some justice would prevail and spare them from death.
   Maria Dziurowicz did not passively observe what was happening. She offered help to both close acquaintances and strangers. Over time, more and more people came to her asking for shelter. She never refused anyone, but the cramped living conditions and fear led to the Jews themselves to leave her apartment.
   Many Jews, both men and women, came to me seeking shelter. I welcomed them all. I have a single apartment with a small kitchen. My family consisted of my husband, a 16-year-old son, and a 26-year-old daughter. Three more children were not at home because there was no space for them. I had a cellar that was 1.40 meters high, 1.5 meters wide, and 2.5 meters long. Jewish families took refuge in this cellar. At most, they endured for about a week. There were children as young as 6 years old. They couldn't endure; it was difficult for them, as the house lacked proper sanitation. The backyard was spacious but poorly fenced, and the house was located in the city center. They would fall into a terrible depression. Older individuals wanted to take their own lives, and told the children we won't have any crackling. The children cried again and said we don't want the rats to eat us, and they left the cellar.
   The woman never threw anyone out of the house, but neither would she try to force those leaving to stay. One night, shortly after the liquidation action was ended in Środula, ten fugitives from the Jewish quarter knocked at her door. She didn’t know them, but didn’t hesitate to let them stay. Next day eight people departed, leaving behind only Pinkus Wasserberger and Hudzia (Hadasa Thaler). Maria’s husband, Franciszek and her children were not opposed to hiding Jews, and didn’t protest when she let new people under their roof, but they feared she would pay for this with her health, because the constant stress made it impossible for her to eat and sleep. Not to cause worry to her loved ones, Maria said all ten had left the flat. In this situation she had to conceal the presence of the two Jews not only from Germans and inquisitive neighbours, but also from her own family:
   People looked at me askance because it was widely known among the Jews in the city that Jews were flocking to my place[…]. For six months, none of my family members knew that there were Jews in the house. Public opinion in the city was unfavorable towards me. Germans came every day. I was extremely exhausted and weakened […]. The searches never ended. The Germans closely guarded my property and house. The worst part was that they would sit in the house for hours over that cellar. The Jews would look at them through the cracks. It was Hudzia Thaler and Pinkus Wasserberger. They held pillows over their mouths. They couldn't even eat for fear. I pretended to be extraordinarily calm. I never locked my house.
   After twenty years, Maria wrote, "We survived until liberation with Jews in the cellar and Germans around us." She became friends with the two hidden in the cellar and referred to them as "my Jews." On 24th of January 1963, she received a letter from Pinkus Wasserberger in Ramat Gan, where he explained his long silence, expressed his lifelong gratitude, and offered to provide her with financial assistance if needed. A few months later, a letter arrived from Hudzia Thaler, who had changed her name to Hadasa in Israel. After the war, she spent some time in Germany before moving to Palestine, where she settled in Petah Tikva. Like Pinkus Wasserberger, she wrote that she had never forgotten the sacrifice of the entire Dziurowicz family and had always dreamed of meeting them. Her years of silence were due to her inability to obtain their address.
On 15th of August 1963, Pinkus Wasserberger and Hadasa Thaler jointly wrote a statement in Tel Aviv addressed to Yad Vashem, emphasizing the selflessness of the Polish woman and how, although she lived in constant fear herself, she had the strength to support them:  
   [...] Completely selflessly, without any conditions, she agreed to shelter us in her home, in the cellar located beneath the floor, with entry through a hole in the floor, covered with a carpet, and above the carpet, there was a table and chairs. Mrs. Dziurowicz was literally an angel to us. She risked Her life and those of her entire family, shared her modest living with us, and kept us hidden in that hideout for 18 months, i.e. until 27th of February 1945. [...] Mrs. Dziurowicz also kept our spirits up. Her optimism helped us not to despair, and she even provided us with newspapers. Towards the end of 1944, seeing that Mrs. Dziurowicz's financial situation was very difficult, we were despondent and wanted to come out and surrender to fate. Mrs. Dziurowicz did not allow it, saying, 'We will eat dry potatoes, but we must survive the war.'"
   Hadasa Thaler and Pinkus Wasserberger hid in Maria Dziurowicz's apartment from August 1943 to February 1945, which is approximately a year and a half. However, Maria wrote that her family knew nothing about the Jews hiding in the cellar for six months. From her account, it is not clear whether this was a mistake or if at some point, she told her closest family members about the two escapees from the ghetto. It's also possible that her husband and children themselves figured out their presence.
The statements from the survivors, along with Maria Dziurowicz's recorded memories, were sent to the Jewish Historical Institute, which gave the matter further attention. On  7th of July 1980, Yad Vashem Institute recognized Maria Dziurowicz as Righteous Among the Nations, and on 8th of September 1999, her husband Franciszek and son Roman were also honored with medals and diplomas.

Maria Sitko (? – 1966) and Wanda Gelbhart (nee Sitko) (1923 - ?)
   Very often, a Jewish survivor who was saved thanks to the help of the Polish population owed their survival to several or even dozens of people. This was the case with Henryk Mandelbaum, who, after the arrest of Stanisława Cicha and the discovery of the hiding place in her home, found shelter with Maria Sitko. Maria lived with her daughter Wanda at ul. Dziewicza 28 [known as Adlerstraße during the German occupation] in a one-room apartment with a kitchen and a small unsewered room accessible directly from the hallway. In these conditions, from 1943 to 1945, five people were hidden: Jerzy and Fryda Feder, Leon and Felicja Weintraub, and Henryk Mandelbaum. The Polish women prepared two hiding places for them – one under the kitchen floor and the other in the unsewered storage room. They were supported by Maria's second daughter, Genowefa Górska, and her husband, Tadeusz. His assistance proved invaluable, especially in forging false documents. One day, Wanda Sitko stole a police identification card from the police station in Milowice. Tadeusz Górski helped Jerzy Feder erase the name from it. Thanks to this, Jerzy Feder gained a form of identification that allowed him to leave the hiding place at least from time to time.
   In her written statement from 1986, Wanda Gelbhart (married name) emphasized that she and her mother lived in constant tension and fear but managed to keep their composure in situations that seemed hopeless. This is what she wrote about one of them:
   One day, my mother and I were terrified as we saw from the window that a large truck had pulled up not far from our house, and German soldiers jumped out of it like mad dogs. Fortunately, on that day, only Jerzy Feder and Heniek Mandelbaum were in our house. When the Germans ran in the opposite direction from our house, Jerzy Feder managed to jump onto Rudna Street, leading to Czeladź, while the distraught Henek called for his help. Without thinking about our safety, he shouted to Jerzy in Yiddish [...]. At that moment, I took charge of the situation [...]. In one motion, I put an old beret on his […] hair and said, "Calm down, I will get you out. You're endangering me and my mother." He then composed himself. I took his hand and, as if nothing had happened, led him out of danger through the neighbouring courtyard. As he left, I deliberately shouted to him, "Tell them at work that I won't come because I'm sick." In doing so, I diverted the attention of the neighbours who had gathered upon hearing about the roundup and were whispering, "Wanda led a Jew out." My mother also didn't lose her "cool." When I dealt with Heniek, she filled the hiding place, which was in the corner of the apartment, with potatoes, and she took out a tub and ordered me to wash the dirty laundry in the middle of the room. When Germans came shortly afterward, they found no one except my mother and me, and they didn't find the hiding place either. Once the situation cooled down, Jerzy Feder he returned to us and stayed in our house until liberation.
   Fryda Feder was arrested by the Gestapo in August 1943 and was sent to the Birkenau camp. Wanda Sitko helped distraught Jerzy maintain contact with her. She delivered the letters written by him to her acquaintance from Katowice-Bogucice, Józef Łyszczarz, who worked in the Auschwitz concentration camp as a civilian electrician. During the camp's evacuation, Fryda managed to escape from the transport and returned to Maria Sitko's house, where she and her husband stayed until liberation.
   Felicja and Leon Weintraub also found refuge in the apartment at ul. Dziewicza 28, and it was through them that Wanda met Samuel Gelbhart, her future husband.
   Right after the war, the Feder family moved to Germany and settled in Fürth, Bavaria. In the same land, in the city of Weiden, Henryk Mandelbaum found his new home. The Weintraub couple later emigrated from Poland to Israel.
   In the 1980s, Wanda Gelbhart made efforts to have herself and Maria Sitko recognized as Righteous Among the Nations. She established contact with the Jewish Historical Institute in Warsaw and sent them letters and statements from those she and her mother had saved. On 5th of November 1985, Henryk Mandelbaum wrote:
   [...] Mrs. Maria Sitko, as well as her daughter Wanda Gelbhard, during the war, sheltered me - a Jew - from the German occupier in their apartment in Sosnowiec, at Adlerstrasse 28. They did so constantly exposing themselves to immense danger. They made significant sacrifices every day to provide us with food and clothing, while they themselves lacked the most essential items. Their actions stemmed from human kindness and personal sacrifice, entirely without compensation. Throughout this time, they did everything within human power to save our lives.
   On the other hand, the Feder and Weintraub couples issued a joint statement on 11th of March 1986:
   We, the undersigned, declare that during the Nazi occupation, in a time when man was a wolf to man, You and Your late Mother, Mrs. Maria Sitko […], with risk to your own lives, did things that were impossible and great for people persecuted by the regime at that time. […]. We can assert with absolute certainty:
  1. that thanks to your help, and because Your home provided a temporary refuge for us, we survived.
  2. And that you extended a helping hand to us at that time had a significant impact on our survival during the war.
  3. One great thing must be emphasized:
  4. You did all of this selflessly, without any material gain, and even to the contrary.
   You provided shelter and sustenance entirely for free. You were guided solely by a human heart, a deed that, in those times, amounted to heroism. A deed that entitles You at least to belong to the family of the righteous.
   On 3rd of September 1986, the director of the Jewish Historical Institute (ŻIH), Professor Ilia Epsztejn, sent a letter to Yad Vashem along with the aforementioned letters, recommending that Wanda Gelbhart and her mother be awarded the title of Righteous Among the Nations. Both women were awarded medals and diplomas on  6th of November 1986.

Wacława (1912 – 1991) and Józef (1909 – 1967) Latos
   Wacława Latos worked in a chemical factory owned by Zelman Mamlok before the outbreak of World War II. After his death in 1928, Feliks Lissak, the husband of his daughter Zofia, managed the factory. In addition to Zofia, Zelman and Józefina Mamlok had two more daughters, Janina and Adela (married name Leneman). When Sosnowiec was occupied by Germans in the early days of September 1939, Józefina, Janina, and Zofia with their families remained in the town. Adela was in Warsaw at the time and spent some time in the ghetto there, but she returned to her hometown in early 1941. In 1943, Józefina, Janina, and Adela were relocated to the ghetto in Środula, while Zofia, along with her husband and son Andrzej, was sent to a camp for the Polish population in Fryštát [now part of Karviná in Silesian Moravia]. They were there because Feliks Lissak was Polish, and Zofia successfully concealed her own background. Wacława Latos found them and brought them food and the valuables they had hidden in their apartment. She continued to support them when they were later sent to a labour camp in Racibórz. She also remembered Józefina Mamlok and her other daughters, providing them with food, medicine, and other essential items while they were in the ghetto.
   After the liquidation of the Sosnowiec ghetto began, in the early days of August 1943, Józefina Mamlok took her life, and Adela, her husband Adolf Leneman and Janina were chosen to be sent to the Auschwitz concentration camp. On the way to the railway station, Adolf pushed his wife out of the column. She tore the yellow star of David patch from her coat and ran to ul. Wiejska 26 [Dorfstraße during the Nazi occupation] to the Latos family. The Latos couple lived in a one-room, unsewered apartment with a kitchen, but despite these difficult conditions, they willingly took in the Jewish woman. Wacława Latos recalled in her post-war account that they had to be extremely cautious because the Mamlok family, with long-standing ties to Sosnowiec, was widely known. If outsiders had discovered Adela's presence in their home, she would surely have been recognized. Adela, the woman in hiding, emphasized that their twelve-year-old son, Janusz, displayed extraordinary maturity and composure in this situation:
   When friends visited the Latos family, I would hide in the closet that was in the room, and there was a specially prepared pillow and cough syrup in there for this occasion. Both Wacława and Józef went to work every day. Janusz went to school. The boy showed great understanding of the situation, responsibility, and a clear mind. He always knew how to behave so as not to give anyone a reason to suspect that I was hiding in the apartment. Whenever someone knocked on the door, Janusz would keep them there as long as possible to give me time to hide in the closet.
   In the same period as Adela Leneman, the Czech ophthalmologist Maksymilian Dreyfus, who was acquainted with Józefina Mamlok, approached the Latos family asking them to hide him. After some time, with their support, he made contact with people who organized further hiding places for him. At the end of August 1943, Adela also left ul. Wiejska 26. There was a manhunt in the city for Jews hiding in the area of the liquidated ghetto and on the "Aryan side," so the Latos family decided to move her to a different location. They took her to the vicinity of Jeleśnia [currently a commune in the Żywiec region, Silesian voivodeship], where she stayed for about six weeks. In early October, when the situation in Sosnowiec calmed down, she returned to her Polish friends. Through the intervention of a labour office clerk, Wacława Latos obtained documents for her under the name Adela Cesarz. These documents allowed her to be sent to work in the mountain town of Villach in Austria, where the Lissak family was already living, having been sent there from the camp in Raciborz. Adela joined them in April 1944.
   The Polish couple also helped her cousin Stella Kippman, who was hiding in another part of Sosnowiec. Józef regularly brought her food.
   Adela Leneman survived the war and, after its conclusion, settled in Bedford, England. She maintained regular written contact with her wartime caregivers and visited them in Katowice three times, where they had moved to after 1945.
   On 12th of October 1981, Wacława Latos sent a letter to the Katowice branch of the Society for Socio-Cultural Advancement of Jews. In the letter, she briefly described to whom and how she provided assistance during World War II. She emphasized that she did not gain any material benefits from her actions, and her entire family was exposed to significant danger. In a subsequent letter dated 10th of November 1981, Wacława Latos included a statement from Adela Leneman, which read as follows:
   I, Adela Leneman, nee Mamlok, hereby declare that I am familiar with the Latos family, consisting of Wacława Latos, Janusz Latos, and the late Józef Latos, who lived in Sosnowiec at Dorfstrasse 26 during the occupation. They provided assistance to my family during the occupation, and they currently reside in Katowice at Szeligiewicza 11/2. During the occupation, they made several trips to visit my sister Zofia Lissak, along with her husband and son, who were first in a camp in the Czech town and were later sent to a labor camp in Raciborz and Fryštát [chronological error: the Lissak family was first in the Czech camp, and only later was sent to the labour camp in Racibórz], bringing them food and money. During the ghetto uprising, they delivered food to my entire family beyond the ghetto borders. When the ghetto was liquidated and I managed to escape from a transport, they sheltered me in their apartment under very difficult living and sanitary conditions. Later, they arranged transportation for me to Villach, where my displaced sister lived, and facilitated my departure to Austria by obtaining the necessary documents for me. I am also aware of the assistance provided to Dr. Dreifus, a Czech national who was in hiding in Sosnowiec [...]. I would like to emphasize that I maintain contact with the Latos family to this day.
   In June 1982, the case was referred to the Jewish Historical Institute, which provided a positive opinion. On 14th of December 1983, the Yad Vashem Institute informed the Warsaw institution that on 4th of December the same year, a commission had decided to award Wacława and Józef Latos the title of Righteous Among the Nations, along with the opportunity to plant trees in the Avenue of the Righteous.  


Rozalia Porębska, Edward Porębski, Władysław Porębski, Johann Bryś, Józefa Hankus, Krystyna Wawak, Ignacy Wawak
   People from different towns helped the Jews who had escaped from the ghetto in Środula. In the picturesque village of Bujaków, near Bielsko-Biała and over 70 kilometres away from Sosnowiec, three sisters and their families got involved in hiding them. These were Józefa Hankus, Rozalia Porębska, and Krystyna Wawak. Thanks to them and their closest relatives, people like Adela Zawadzka survived the war. In the spring of 1941, Zawadzka along with her husband Jakub and their three-year-old son Leon, had been relocated from Oświęcim to Sosnowiec.
   Adela was born in 1919 in Krakow. A few years later, her parents decided to move to Oświęcim. Her father, Jerachmiel Jurkowski, took on the role of a councillor and a sworn officer in the Oświęcim court. Additionally, he ran a bookbinding workshop, while her mother took care of the household and raising their children. Shortly before the outbreak of the war, Adela married Jakub Grünfeld, a highly respected dental technician in the town. In August 1938, they welcomed their son, Leon.
   After the Germans entered the town, they occupied the Grünfelds' spacious apartment located in the center of Oświęcim. Adela and her husband, along with their one-year-old child, moved in with Jakub's brother. For the young woman, who had been accustomed to above-average living standards from childhood, this situation was difficult to accept. Her apprehensions became even more pessimistic when they were relocated to Sosnowiec, and the conditions in the Środula ghetto, where they had to move in July 1943 with the entire family (except for her husband, who was in a forced labour camp at that time), contributed to her decision to escape. She confided in her younger sister, Rózia, who decided to join her and Leon. A few days before the start of the liquidation action in the Jewish district, the three of them left and headed to Bielsko-Biała. The choice of this town was not accidental. A German family lived there: Regina and Paul Dawid, their daughter Margit, and granddaughter Helga. They had been supporting the Jewish population almost from the beginning of the German occupation. Adela Grünfeld had heard about them from acquaintances:
   The Dawid family, a German family, lived in Bielsko at the time […]. Mr. Dawid worked in German military garages located in the backyard of the same building. Because of this, Germans, both military and civilian, were constantly moving around the courtyard. In the basement of the house (part of the living area), several people of Jewish and Polish nationality were hidden […].  To camouflage the presence of people in the basement and her frequent visits there with food, Mrs. Dawid kept poultry in the cellar. When she brought food for the people, she would speak to the birds in a prearranged manner. The men remained in the basement continuously, while the Dawid family usually placed the women in different families for various household tasks such as sewing, cleaning, etc. As almost unpaid labour, these women generally had steady employment.
   Adela, her child, and her sister couldn't stay at the Dawid family's home because it already harboured too many people. Therefore, they decided to go to Bujaków, a small village located 15 kilometres from Bielsko-Biała. Adela was familiar with the place because in the past, she and her friends would stay there overnight during mountain excursions. During those times, she rented rooms at the Hankus family's farm, and it was precisely them she decided to ask for help. The hosts let the three of them into the house, but they immediately told the former vacationer that they couldn't hide them because the farm was frequently inspected by Germans searching for their son. They advised her to go with her sister and child to the forester Władysław Paciorek, who lived on the edge of the forest, far from the prying eyes of neighbours and German police stations. The forester didn't refuse to help them, but he couldn't accommodate all three of them. Adela remained at the forester's lodge, while her sister and son hid in the home of Władysław Paciorek's acquaintance, Alojzy Sadlik. During this time, both women acquired new identity documents. Adela and Leon now used the surname Zawadzki.
   In the autumn of 1943, Adela and her son left for a village near Tarnowskie Góry. They were assisted in getting there by Johann Bryś, a Silesian and a railway worker who had been organizing hideouts for Jews escaping from ghettos and camps for some time. Initially, they stayed with Bryś's wife in Tarnowskie Góry, but the railway worker deemed it unsafe, so he directed them to his cousin's house. The cousin readily welcomed Adela and Leon, but the presence of a young woman with a child in the house of a single man aroused significant interest among the villagers, especially the local priest, who increasingly paid the host home visits. In this situation, Adela decided to return to Bujaków.
   Meanwhile, Johann Bryś helped Rózia Jurkowska, who had left the village to search for her fiancé, Eliasz (Elek) Jakubowicz, a prisoner in the Blechhamer camp. With the assistance of a Polish foreman working in the camp and Bryś, who provided Jakubowicz with his work uniform and official documents, Rózia helped her beloved escape. Eliasz, dressed in a railway worker's uniform, did not arouse suspicion among passengers. The couple reached Tarnowskie Góry, where they stayed in Johann Bryś's apartment for some time. This was not the only successful action by Rózia and the Silesian. Together, they organized several more escapes for residents of the Sosnowiec ghetto and prisoners from Blechhamer. They were eventually apprehended in 1944 in Tarnowskie Góry and transported to the Gestapo headquarters in Bytom. From there, both of them were sent to the Auschwitz concentration camp. Johann Bryś most likely perished in the camp, while the woman managed to escape from a transport carrying prisoners to Berlin at a later time.
   Adela and Leon found a safe haven in the home of Róża Porębska in Bujaków. Róża, a Polish woman, lived there with her two sons, Edward and Władysław, her sisters Józefa Hankus and Krystyna Wawak, her husband Ignacy, her mother Józefa, and her nephew Bolesław Blachura. Despite the crowded house, in addition to Adela and her son, her brother Marian Jurkowski and Elias Jakubowicz also found shelter there. The Jews, along with Ignacy Wawak and Bolesław Blachura, built a bunker beneath the barn where other escapees from Środula, including Róża and Mojżesz Gutman, later hid. The hosts provided food to those in hiding daily and emptied buckets of waste at night.
   Thanks to the courage of the Hankus, Porębski, and Wawak families, along with Johann Bryś, all those in hiding managed to survive until the end of the war in Bujaków. Most of them emigrated abroad. In Poland, only Adela and Leon Zawadzki remained, having permanently adopted that surname. Adela married twice and lived in Warsaw, where she passed away in 2000 at the age of 81. Leon Zawadzki settled in Bielsko-Biała. Róża Jurkowska-Margolis survived Auschwitz and, after the war, moved to Germany, where she settled in Frankfurt on the Main.
   Adela and Leon Zawadki made efforts to have their rescuers recognized as Righteous Among the Nations. In 1981, Adela wrote to the Yad Vashem Institute:
   The Hankus family and their daughters, including Krystyna […] with her husband Ignacy Wawak, Józefka Hankus, and Rozalia Porębska – this family took care of me and my child, as well as Elek Jakubowicz and our brother Marian […]. This family saved our lives. Not only ours but many persecuted people as well […]. I found myself, along with my child, under the care of this wonderful family.
   On 26th of October, 1982, the Yad Vashem Institute awarded medals and diplomas of Righteous Among the Nations to Rozalia Porębska and her sons Edward and Władysław, Józefa Hankus, Krystyna and Ignacy Wawak, as well as Johann Bryś, in recognition of their courageous efforts to save lives during the Holocaust.


Bernese Group, “the Ładoś group” (1941 – 1943)
   An important role in saving Jewish people during World War II was played by diplomats coming from different countries. Among them there were many politicians and social activists from Poland. Henryk Sławik (1894–1944) collaborated with the Hungarian politician Jozsef Antall (1896–1974) to form the Citizen Committee for Helping Polish Refugees in Hungary, which provided thousands of Poles fleeing the occupied fatherland with passports containing false personal data, enabling them to leave further to the West. Thanks to these documents, some 5,000 Polish Jews escaped for Hungary, among them inhabitants of the Dąbrowa Basin.
   Some of them were also saved thanks to the activity of the so-called Bernese Group, also known as “the Ładoś group”, from the name of its founder, Polish MP (i.e. ambassador) in Switzerland – Aleksander Ładoś (1891–1963). The group was made up of Polish diplomats and representatives of Jewish organisations. Apart from Aleksander Ładoś himself, its management included: the deputy of Ładoś, Stefan Ryniewicz (1903–1988), vice-consul Konstanty Rokicki (1899 – 1958), attaché of the Polish legation Juliusz Kühl (1913–1985) and two Jewish activists: Abraham Silberschein (1882–1951) from the World Jewish Congress and founder of the Comittee for Relief of the War – Stricken Jewish Population – RELICO, as well as Chaim Eiss (1876–1943) from the orthodox party Agudath Israel. The primary goal of the Bernese group was the illegal obtaining and making of passports as well as citizenship certificates for countries of Latin America. In the years 1941–1943 the documents were given to Jews who next, as “foreigners”, were placed in internment camps, instead of forced labour and extermination camps. Their names were also placed on lists of Jews to be exchanged for Germans interned in South America. The passports gave them a chance to leave the Old Continent, and thus to avoid mass extermination.
   Aleksander Ładoś was born on 27th of July 1891 in Lviv. After the outbreak of World War I, he participated in the creation of Eastern Legions in his hometown. After their disbanding in September 1914, he was detained in Zakopane, and later placed in a prison in Nowy Targ. After being released, he found his way to Switzerland, where he spent the remaining years of wartime. He started his diplomatic career soon after Poland regained independence. In 1919 he got the post of a parliamentary clerk at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. His duties included negotiating foreign policy with political factions of the parliament. In 1923 he left for his first diplomatic post in Latvia and took the post of an MP and diplomatic minister with the Riga government. He came back to Warsaw in 1926 but already in March 1927 he was appointed consul general of the Polish Republic in Munich, with the title of diplomatic minister. In 1931 he was recalled from this post.
   In early October of 1939 Aleksander Ładoś travelled to France, where Władysław Sikorski offered him to join the government of the Polish Republic in exile. He became cabinet minister and performed this function until 9th of December 1939. He was then promised the post of consul in Turkey, but the plans were questioned by the Turkish side, because the function had been performed by Michał Sokolnicki since 1936, and local politicians esteemed him very highly. In this situation, the Foreign Ministry decided to send Aleksander Ładoś to Switzerland in May 1942. There, he became head of the Legation of the Polish Republic in Bern.
   Soon several trusted people were gathered around the legate, and between 1941 and the end of 1943 they issued documents of South American countries to thousands of Jews. At present, we are aware of 3,282 recipients of passports, but as scholars on the subject emphasise, these are some 30-40% of the 8,000 – 10,000 Jews, whom members of the Bernese group strove to save. People on the “Ładoś list” received passports and certificates of citizenship of four countries of Latin America: Haiti, Honduras, Paraguay, and Peru. Vast majority of them (2,299) are Polish Jews, making up over 70% of the holders of these documents who have been identified. Citizens of pre-war Germany were granted 386 passports, and of the Nethelands – 395. Inhabitants of these three countries made up nearly 94% of all the beneficiaries of the Bernese group’s activity. Among the identified Polish Jews, the largest percentage are for now former inhabitants of the Dąbrowa Basin. The list features 839 people from Będzin, 213 from Sosnowiec, 72 from Dąbrowa Górnicza and over 70 from other places in the region, as well as in the Katowice district: Zawiercie, Katowice, and Bielsko.
   Paweł Wiederman, author of the book entitled Płowa bestia [Blond beast], published in 1948 in Munich, who was for a time head of the Resettlement Department at the Head Office of the Jewish Councils of Elders in Eastern Upper Silesia, wrote that on 18th of June 1943 thirty-six inhabitants of the Sosnowiec ghetto received “the main prize, pulled from the urn”. Not only the people obtaining the passports were overjoyed; almost everyone in the Jewish district celebrated, because this event gave them hope that sooner or later they too may become “citizens” of Latin America:
   On Friday, 18th of June [1943 r.], in the afternoon, we received this news, so joyful that it moved the entire Jewish district. The holders of the foreign papers were most triumphant […]. Head Office [the Head Office of the Jewish Councils of Elders in Eastern Upper Silesia] received the news on the phone from the presidium of the police [in Sosnowiec] that the foreign papers were received on this day for 36 people. These people would be directed to the internment camp the very next day, i.e. on Saturday morning. What happiness, what joy! And so there is God in the sky after all, looking over us and not abandoning us at a point where no rescue seemed possible anymore. So it’s not a fantasy, that all of us, placed in the tender care of Hitler, have been acknowledged as citizens of some republic in South America, and even Środula will be transformed into an internment camp. Like ice in the springtime, melting quickly in the heat of sun’s rays and disappears quickly, so the sadness in our hearts was affected by the news, making it somehow melt and replacing it with joyful hope.
   The entire ghetto was in an uplifted, merry mood, so unlike the usual realities of the Jewish district. However, just a few hours ago, the first signs of unease appeared. Inhabitants of Środula began receiving information that holders of the documents of the South American states did not reach the internment camp. A labourer in a factory located opposite the seat of the presidium of the German police in Sosnowiec said that a covered car drove to the building and young Jewish men and women were told to get inside with their luggage. The woman added that the car probably took them to the Auschwitz concentration camp, because she had seen similar vehicles filled with people before, driving in that direction. Paweł Wiederman remembered that the euphoria dominating the ghetto on the Saturday morning passed quickly, and the hearts of the Jewish population were again filled with fear and sorrow. These feelings were intensified the next day when a Pole employed at the Auschwitz concentration camp as a civilian labourer made his way to Środula. The man stated that the previous day he had seen a covered car at the camp with several dozen young people getting out of it.
   The passport action, carried out in the years 1941–1943 by the Legation of the Republic of Poland in Bern, and by influential, Switzerland-based Jews, remained uncommemorated for years. This was largely due to the fact that people who initiated and performed it left no memoirs in which they described its details. Aleksander Ładoś began working on his memoir in 1949, and described in it the period from his childhood to his taking the post in Switzerland. The following paragraphs were to be devoted to the activity of the Bernese group, but he never wrote them. After serious illness, he died in Warsaw on 29th of December 1963. In the seventies or eighties Juliusz Kühl wrote his own memoir, but in it he never referred to the manufacturing of the passports. Konstanty Rokicki, Stefan Ryniewicz, Abraham Silberschein and Chaim Eiss left no written accounts at all.
   On 19th of February 2019, Konstanty Rokicki received the diploma of Righteous Among the Nations. While the recognizing of a diplomat who personally contributed to producing nearly half of all the “Ładoś passports”, and personally filled the forms for around 1,000 of them, raised no objections in itself, overlooking Aleksander Ładoś and Stefan Ryniewicz by the Yad Vashem Institute upset representatives of diplomatic circles and people who owed (and owe) their lives to these documents. Adam Henderson from the press office of the Institute explained the institution’s decision thus:
   As for the activities undertaken during World War II by the officials of the Polish legation in Bern, the evaluation of the committee concerned their active involvement (in saving Jews), as well as the risk undertaken by each of them. After profound analysis of adequate documents, the committee concluded that Konstanty Rokicki was the key figure in the efforts of the Polish legation in Bern, aimed at saving Jews from extermination by forging passports of Paraguay.
   Henderson emphasised that the committee fully appreciated the role played in the passport action by Aleksander Ładoś and Stefan Ryniewicz, for which they received words of recognition.
   2021 marked 80 years since the beginning of the Bernese group’s operation to save Jewish people. This is why the Parliament of Poland announced the group the patron of that year. The resolution of the parliament states:
  In the year 2021, the 80th anniversary of the beginning of the rescue operation of Jews from the Holocaust by the Embassy of the Republic of Poland in Swiss Bern is commemorated. Utilizing their diplomatic status, representatives of the Republic of Poland, with the knowledge and support of the Government of the Polish Republic in Exile and in cooperation with Jewish organizations, including the World Jewish Congress, secretly organized one of the largest passport-forging and smuggling operations during World War II, delivering them to individuals in ghettos and camps [...]. Expressing gratitude to all the survivors living today and their descendants for remembering Aleksander Ładoś, Konstanty Rokicki, and other Poles who saved Jews, the Sejm (Polish Parliament) of the Republic of Poland, in recognition of the effectiveness and dedication of Polish diplomats and their Jewish and Polish collaborators, designates the year 2021 as the Year of the Ładoś Group.

They saved people, but were not recognized as Righteous Among the Nations
Worldwide, the same criteria apply to candidates for the title of Righteous Among the Nations. There are no exceptions to these rules, and some cases can drag on for years, occasionally ending negatively due to procedural reasons. Irena Steinfeldt, Director of the Righteous Among the Nations Department at the Yad Vashem Institute, said:
I am aware that there are many more Righteous Among the Nations [than what is listed on the Yad Vashem Institute's website]. I have no idea how many. We need time, submissions, research. Nevertheless, year after year, we lose the last witnesses, and survivors. That's why reaching them and preserving their testimonies is our priority. We do what we can.
In Poland, there were and still are individuals who provided assistance to the Jewish population during the World War II but did not receive the medals and diplomas of Righteous Among the Nations. There are various reasons for this situation. Some of those they saved did not survive the war or died shortly after it ended, leaving no testimonies behind. Survivors, for whom Poland became the mass grave of their relatives, friends, and neighbors, despite the trauma of the Holocaust, often did not find the understanding and empathy they had hoped for from the Polish population. Furthermore, they were met with distrust and even hostility because the people who took over their homes, businesses, and various material possessions were afraid that the rightful owners might want to reclaim them sooner or later. In this situation, Jews who survived the war in German-occupied Poland emigrated, most often to the United States, Western European countries, and Australia, and later to the newly established state of Israel in 1948. They severed all ties with Poland and Polish identity, even with those to whom they owed their lives. Confronting the recent past was too painful and prevented them from building a new life in their new homeland.
Many Poles who had helped Jews during the Nazi occupation in various ways, such as providing them with food and medicine, forging false identity documents, or hiding them in their own homes or farm buildings, often remained silent about their activities. They did not regret taking the risks and believed that their decisions were morally right, but they feared the reactions of their immediate surroundings. It was quite common for people to believe that Jews had left money, gold, and valuables to their rescuers. As a result, shortly after the war, there were often looting attacks on the homes of those who had sheltered Jews. Silence was also maintained for other reasons: in the post-war political and social situation, where, on one hand, there were pogroms against the Jewish population, and on the other hand, they were widely accused of favoring the communists, known as "Judeo-communism," it was safer not to talk about one’s heroic actions for one’s personal safety. Some of those who saved lives also simply wanted to erase the years from 1939 to 1945 from their memory and quickly rebuild their lives in post-Yalta Poland. Others believed that they had done nothing extraordinary; they had simply acted "as one should."
The topic of rescuing the Jewish population during World War II remained taboo for many years after its conclusion. In numerous communities, especially rural ones, it was an open secret. The statement from a resident of Sosnowiec, with whom folklorist Dionizjusz Czubala spoke in 1977 illustrates this well. The researcher was conducting field research on the memory of the years of occupation in the Dąbrowa Basin:
And they hid with Urban. Urban's mother... Urban is doing well because the Jew still sends him [money and packages]. Now, who else hid them? This place on the way to Piaski [a neighborhood in Czeladź]… What were their names? Even my goddaughter hid Jews, and one of them married her. What was her name? You know how it is... We were close friends. I've completely forgotten her name. They hid them, and they are doing well now. Did anyone else hide them? But all of this was done in secret. Jesus, I hope this Urban doesn’t get into trouble over this? Because, after all, the man didn't do anything wrong to me.
  Soon, these attitudes underwent some change, and as a result, the Jewish Historical Institute in Warsaw established a Yad Vashem Decorations Section, which between 1980 and 1985 received over 600 submissions from individuals claiming that they had actively worked to save the Jewish population during World War II. More and more of them wanted to share their experiences. Some wished to establish contact with the people they had cared for decades earlier through various institutions, while others hoped for material support. There were also those who made efforts to be recognized as Righteous Among the Nations.
Tadeusz Konopka
Not everyone was able to gather the appropriate documentation, and some cases were suddenly closed giving any reasons being given. Very often, the applicants themselves provided too little information for their requests to be considered at all. This was the case with Tadeusz Konopka from Sosnowiec, who on 14th of March 1984 sent a brief letter to the Embassy of Israel in Poland:
The application - request concerns the matter of finding the Jewish people whom I saved [in] 1943 from the ghetto in Sosnowiec-Środula. I kindly request the Embassy of Israel in Warsaw for assistance in locating the Jewish people whom I saved [in] 1943 from the ghetto in Sosnowiec-Środula, whose lives I saved by transporting them on a wagon […] from the ghetto. Currently, I want to find them so that they can confirm my assistance in rescuing the Jewish population from the Germans. I am asking for my application to be approved and kindly ask for a written response regarding the outcome.
On 5th of May 1984, the man sent a nearly identical message to the Chancellery of the State Council in Warsaw. He attached the letter previously sent to the Embassy of Israel. A few days later, the Chancellery of the State Council forwarded the letter to the Jewish Historical Institute, stating that the interested party had been informed of the transfer of the case. In late September 1984, Tadeusz Konopka received a response from the institute, informing him that due to the passage of time and the very limited information related to the rescue operation, his case would not be further considered.
Helena Ostrowska
The resident of Sosnowiec claimed that over an eight months period during the war, she had hidden a total of 33 people at various times. Consequently, she initiated efforts to obtain material support from Jewish organizations. First, she contacted the headquarters of the Jewish Social Welfare Commission in Warsaw. After reviewing her letter, in which she described her history related to saving the Jewish population, they suggested that she establish contact with the Jewish Historical Institute. The woman followed this advice, and on 14th of August, 1983, she wrote to the Warsaw institution:
[...] I don't have any documents. There are many neighbors, and even Jewish families and individuals are still alive [Helena Ostrowska mentioned that she had provided assistance to both individual people and whole families]. They are the best documents because they were with us for 8 months from August 1943 to April 15, 1944. April 15 was a very bad day because we were reported, and the Germans surrounded our house and started shooting with rifles and  burst into the apartment, shouting where are the Jews, and searching. I have a cellar in the apartment where the Jews were staying, and they found them. They released tear gas, they choked, and started running out of the cellar. Seven people, my husband and I, were taken to the square; they started beating and kicking us to confess where the rest of the Jews were, but we didn't admit. One of the Jews, Bolesław Brener, was shot, as well as my mother who was with me [they shot her], but my mother-in-law was just to get bread and was saved, while we were taken to prison. They took my mother to hospital, and she died the next day. Six Jewish people were taken to Auschwitz, including Bolesław Brener and his mother, whose deaths deeply affected me in prison [...]. Now I am writing because of this care for the 8 months, I have no compensation because during that time, there were 33 people, and they gradually left us for Hungary, Canada, and Palestine, until only 7 people remained until April 15 [1944], who were taken from us to Auschwitz, but they survived [...]. When we came back from prison, we found nothing at home; everything was stolen, even dishes, clothes, bedding, and food [...]. The neighbors fed us and clothed us because we had nothing in the house. To provide life for so many people during this torment, it required risk, and now no one wants to help. I became a widow; my husband has been gone for 11 years, and I am recovering from cancer; I can't get back on my feet. I would greatly appreciate help for the suffering I went through during the time I sheltered these few families.
On 12th of January 1984, Helena Ostrowska received a response stating that the Jewish Historical Institute is a research institution and does not deal with social matters. The letter explained that if she had contact with the individuals she had assisted during World War II, she could apply for the title of Righteous Among the Nations. To do so, she would need to obtain statements from them. A few months later, the woman sent another letter to the institute in which she wrote that she had contacted Sara Tefferberg. She expected that Sara, a Jewish woman, would provide a written account of her hiding in her apartment. However, this did not happen, and instead of a statement, Sara Tefferberg only provided her current residential address and the addresses of her brother and sister, who also received assistance from the Sosnowiec resident [all three were living in Canada at that time]. The information provided by the woman was forwarded by the Jewish Historical Institute to the Yad Vashem Institute.
Helena Ostrowska's case was under consideration for several years. It wasn't until 3rd of September 1992 that she received information about her the proceedings being terminated. This decision was made because the employees of the Yad Vashem Institute were unable to establish contact with the individuals she had mentioned in her letter and obtain the necessary statements from them to grant the title of Righteous Among the Nations.
Halina Królikowska
On 22nd November 1985, a 64-year-old resident of Sosnowiec, who, along with her mother, sister, and brother-in-law, had provided assistance to the Jewish Orłowski family, sent a letter to the Chairman of the Council of State, General Wojciech Jaruzelski, in which she described her family's experiences during the occupation. The Office of the Council forwarded the letter to the Social and Cultural Association of Jews in Poland, and from there it was passed on to the Jewish Historical Institute. The institute's management contacted Halina Królikowska and asked her to provide additional details about both her family and the individuals she had assisted during World War II. In April 1986, she replied:
I lived in Sosnowiec on ul. Pekin, in an apartment with a room and a kitchen, along with my mother Ludwika Dziuba, my sister Emilia Spałek (née Hatlapa) from my mother's first marriage, and her husband Bolesław Spałek. The individuals mentioned above, along with myself, provided assistance to Stefan Orłowski [...]. Stefan Orłowski often spoke about his family. From these stories, I infer that he was a half-orphan, as he never mentioned his father. He lived in Sosnowiec on ul. Naftowa [...], and the house where he lived belonged to the Orłowski family. He lived there with his mother, sister Regina, brother Mieczysław, and Lutek. I don't remember Stefan's mother's name. Mieczysław was a doctor and held the position of hospital director in Sosnowiec on ul. Konrada [...]. I don't know anything about his sister Regina and brother Lutek. Stefan Orłowski also had strong feelings for his aunt, Mrs. Karolina Budzyńska, she was likely his mother's sister.
The further part of the letter indicates that Stefan Orłowski was sent to a forced labor camp in Parzymiechy, near Częstochowa, at the end of summer or the beginning of autumn in either 1941 or 1942. After two months, Halina Królikowska received a letter from him. Soon, she herself was transported for labor to Racibórz, but due to her poor health, she was shortly allowed to return home. During this time, Stefan Orłowski's mother informed her that her son had died of typhus in the camp. It turned out that this information was false; however, the man had miraculously avoided death:
He was being led to execution and already started digging his own grave by the edge of the forest. At that moment, a man appeared. The Germans ordered him to stop digging, turning their backs on him and paying attention to when that man would disappear from their sight. Stefan seized this moment and began to escape into the forest. The Germans started shooting, injuring him. Stefan woke up in a barn at a peasant's house, who said he had found him unconscious by his door. This man brought him in a horse-drawn cart covered with straw to his house.
He was taken care of by Mieczysław Orłowski, who eventually brought him to the apartment of Halina Królikowska and her relatives, asking them to hide him. Stefan Orłowski stayed with them for about two weeks and received documents under the Polish surname Hatlapa. It's possible he would have hidden there longer if it weren't for the suspicions of neighbors. The risk of exposure became too great, so Bolesław Spałek decided that they should send him, with the new identity papers, to forced labor in Germany. Years later, Halina Królikowska recalled that her brother-in-law's idea had saved their ward's life:
Because people started to suspect that there was a Jew in our place, they shouted "Jew, come out" under our windows. Stefan had to flee. My sister's husband advised him to get to Germany "into the lion's mouth, because it's darkest under the lamppost." This advice turned out to be a lifesaver. After getting to Germany, he worked in a sugar factory. After some time, we received money from him and a letter asking us to send him a food package.
Stefan and Mieczysław Orłowski both survived the war and settled in Germany. The younger brother, from July 1945, worked as an auto mechanic and also served as a translator in the Russian army. In 1946, their aunt Karolina Budzyńska got in touch with Mieczysław, informing him that Mieczysław was living in Kassel. In May 1950, Stefan decided to visit his brother, but this trip was complicated because Kassel was located in the Federal Republic of Germany (FRG), while Hellerau, where Stefan lived, was part of the German Democratic Republic (GDR). He travelled by train to Halberstadt, where the border crossing between the Soviet and American occupation zones was located. There, he managed to illegally cross the border and arrived in Kassel on 4th of July 1950. However, he did not meet his brother because it turned out that Mieczysław and his wife had emigrated to the United States a few months earlier. Consequently, Stefan Orłowski also made efforts to go to the USA, but there is no available documentation to confirm whether he succeeded in obtaining the necessary permits.
After the end of the war, Halina Królikowska lost contact with both of her brothers. On 4th of August 1990, seeing that her correspondence with the Jewish Historical Institute was not yielding any results and the Orłowski family had no intention of reconnecting with her, she sent another letter to Warsaw, in which she vented her emotions:
On August 3, 1990, a Day on the Radio dedicated to the memory of Polish Jews. I am enchanted by the beautiful melodies of Israel and the comments, stories about the kindness and culture of the Jewish people. It occurred to me how many years we have been waiting for a response from the Jewish Historical Institute in Poland to the letters I sent [...] in search of the Orłowski family. I provided quite exhaustively the information I had about them [...]. Both of us are still alive!!! My sister is 90 years old, I am 68. And we didn't make them wait... until we decided whether it was worth risking the lives of our family and the entire residential building, and maybe even three buildings, that is 50 families (Pekin colony, three houses, and a hospital) [...]. In 1943, in the evening, accommodation was found immediately [...] Is it really possible for people to forget to such an extent the individuals to whom they owe their lives? After all, if these individuals are no longer alive, their descendants are. I am aware that the Orłowskis, Mieczysław and Stefan, got married. Stefan with the daughter of Bauer, who treated him for gunshot wounds, and Mieczysław [...] married a Polish woman [...]. They certainly told their story about the ghetto, the camps, and Auschwitz to their children because can one really erase from memory the atrocities endured? Softened and allowing survival? by kind-hearted individuals?
In October 1993, Halina Królikowska finally received a letter from the Jewish Historical Institute, which marked the end of her long-standing efforts to establish contact with the Orłowski brothers and to be honored, along with her relatives, with the title of Righteous Among the Nations.
Bonifacy Matyszkiewicz
The resident of Sosnowiec was a participant in the Polish September Campaign. On 3rd of June  1939, he had been drafted to the 1st Signal Regiment in Zegrze. He spent several months there, and then, like tens of thousands of Polish soldiers, crossed the Polish border into Romania and arrived in the town of Târgu Jiu, which was one of the largest camps for Polish war refugees. From there, he was sent to work in the imperial quarries in Vienna, Austria. Afterward, he ended up in the Lamsdorf camp [Łambinowice, Niemodlin municipality, Opole Voivodeship]. Later, as a prisoner, he was employed in a woolen factory in his hometown. He returned home but had to regularly report to the local Gestapo station.
On 30th April 1983, he wrote a letter to the Jewish Historical Institute in which he claimed that upon his return to Sosnowiec, he took in 14-year-old Henryk Mandelbaum:
I, the undersigned, hereby inform you that in 1942, a Jewish boy of around 14 years old named Henryk Mandelbaum, who lived in Ząbkowice Będzińskie with his parents, was brought to me. Later, they were all deported to the Środula Camp in Sosnowiec [the man referred to the ghetto as a camp], where Henryk's parents were murdered. He managed to escape and was brought to me by my cousin, Tadeusz Wylężek, who lived in the "Pogoria" housing estate [since 1963, it has been a district of Dąbrowa Górnicza], and it was there that he met Heniek, he provided with a certificate stating that he worked in a mine under the name Henryk Wiśniewski […], at first, he was obedient, but later he started going to Będzin among his own people because many Jews were hiding there. One day, during a raid, he was caught and transported to the Auschwitz camp. When they were closing down the Auschwitz camp and moving prisoners to another camp [...], Heniek came to me at night wearing the camp uniform, striped pajamas, and asked me to take care of him, which I did. This was in 1943 [the liquidation of Auschwitz-Birkenau took place in January 1945] coming to an end and he stayed with me until the end of the war, without even saying thank you. I maintained contact with him for 20 years because he and my son worked together in the U.B. (Security Office) when my son passed away, Heniek disappeared from my life as well, however, I found his address in the telephone directory and wrote to him. I won't describe our conversation now, but I can repeat it if you invite me to visit you.
In another letter sent on 20th June 1983, the man wrote that Henryk Mandelbaum not only did not show gratitude for the help he received but also wanted to nominate another person for the title of Righteous Among the Nations [he did not provide the person's details]:
I took care of Heniek and risked my whole family, consisting of 5 people, in case of an accident, and now what about Heniek? this is his gratitude, probably presenting someone else [to the Yad Vashem Institute] as the person he was hiding with, I couldn't bring up this matter earlier because I didn't know where Heniek was, I only found his address in the phone book and wrote to him, he came to Sosnowiec, and we arranged a meeting to document the details of this matter at a notary’s, i.e., him being sheltered by me, he came but refused to go to the notary […] because he presented someone else, saying he was the one sheltering him.
The final outcome of Bonifacy Matyszkiewicz's case is unknown. His name does not appear on the list of Righteous Among the Nations.
Bronisław Lis
During the Nazi occupation, the man hid Abraham Feigenbaum, a fugitive from the Środula ghetto, in the attic of his own home. One day, the Jew left his hiding place and was arrested by Gestapo officers. He was sent to the Auschwitz concentration camp and from there to the Neu-Dachs labor camp in Jaworzno. On 16th of January 1945, he was evacuated to the Buchenwald concentration camp, where he awaited liberation by American forces. After the war ended, he remained in Germany, settled in Frankfurt on the Main, married a Jewish woman from Łódź, and founded the trading company Abraham Feigenbaum & Co. Schrott Metalle und Rohprodukte [selling scrap metal, metal, and raw metal products]. On 20th of February  1948, he sent a letter to Bronisław Lis, expressing great hopes for a future meeting:
Dear Friend!
[…] You write so little about yourself that I don't know what you're up to. You moved to Kluczbork [Kluczbork County, Opolskie Voivodeship], but you don't tell me whether you're in business or employed somewhere. As for myself […] I manage a trading company here. I married a woman from Łódź, and she's my business partner. She gave birth to our daughter just two weeks ago. I employ 18 people, and thanks to God, we're making a living somehow […]. I would love to see you and have a chat because I consider you one of the wise people […]. I've written a few hundred pages of my experiences; I wanted to publish them, but later I became a representative of the Jewish community in the Hessen-Nassau region, and I got so absorbed in leading these affairs that I had to put my writing on hold. If I ever run into you, we can talk about various experiences.
The quoted letter was the last one Bronisław Lis received from the man he saved, and they never had a post-war meeting. Abraham Feigenbaum later moved with his family to the United States, which led to the severing of contact with the Polish man. Bronisław Lis could not accept this situation and for many years conducted searches for his friend. He sought help from various institutions, both in Poland and abroad. In October 1952, he sent a letter to the Chief of Police in Frankfurt am Main, inquiring about Abraham Feigenbaum's American address. He received a response stating only that the person he mentioned had left for the USA on 16th of October 1950, after officially moving out of Germany. The Frankfurt police had no other information about him. On 17th of July  1978, Bronisław Lis contacted the Society for Communication with Poles Abroad. A month later, he received a reply stating that the organization had no means of determining Abraham Feigenbaum's residential address. In the same year, he tried to involve the Wrocław Congregation of the Jewish Faith in the search but, once again, did not obtain any specific information. He was merely advised to contact either the American Red Cross or the International Red Cross in Geneva.
When this did not yield results, he gave up. Perhaps he concluded that further searching was pointless and that Abraham Feigenbaum, if he wanted to, would have reached out to him first. However, he did not hold onto this belief for too long. On 8th of May 1981, he watched a television program dedicated to Poles who saved Jews during World War II. This inspired him, a month later, to send a letter to the Jewish Historical Institute, in which he described the period and circumstances during which Abraham Feigenbaum hid with him and when they lost contact. He also mentioned that he had sought help from many institutions to determine his American address but received responses each time stating that such actions were not within their scope of activity. The then-director of the Jewish Historical Institute, Professor Maurycy Horn, sent a request to Yad Vashem to check if the name and surname of the man sought by Bronisław Lis were in the Institute's records and if, based on this information, it would be possible to determine his address. Vera Prausnitz, Director of the Department of Righteous Among the Nations, replied that the institution does not maintain a list of survivors. She explained that the staff could not determine Abraham Feigenbaum's place of residence, so the Institute could not proceed with Bronisław Lis's case unless the man saved by him (or his descendants) provided an account.
Bronisław Lis learned the position of the Jerusalem Institute on 4th of February 1982. On 8th of June 1985, he contacted the Jewish Historical Institute again. The content of his letter suggests that he had given up hope of finding Abraham Feigenbaum, but he was still interested in receiving the title of Righteous Among the Nations:
Because to this day, I cannot determine his [Abraham Feigenbaum's] address, and I would like to receive the commemorative medal Righteous Among the Nations as a memento of fulfilling my civic duty to commemorate my children and grandchildren. Since I have exhausted all possibilities, I am sending all the documentation of the search with a request to forward it to the Institute of National Remembrance Yad Vashem - Jerusalem, with a request to award the medal to me and my wife.
As there was no statement provided by the rescued person or their relatives, the Yad Vashem Institute did not award the man and his wife, Genowefa, with honorary medals and diplomas.
Henryka Wrońska
The woman was born on 18th of November 1918 in Sosnowiec. She was a tailor by profession. During the Nazi occupation, she provided shelter to, among others, a fugitive from the ghetto in Środula [the names of the people she hid are unknown]. In July 1943, she was arrested and imprisoned in Mysłowice, from where she was deported to the Auschwitz concentration camp on 27th of October of the same year. She was assigned prisoner number 66,307 in the camp. She was killed there on 23rd of March 1944. In 1962, her husband, Mieczysław Wroński, submitted a statement to the State Museum Auschwitz-Birkenau Archive detailing the circumstances of his wife’s arrest, deportation, and death in the Auschwitz concentration camp.
Józef Bylica
The Sosnowiec resident was arrested on 3rd of March 1944, in Dąbrowa Górnicza and subsequently placed in detention in his hometown. On 16th of June 1944, he was transferred to the Auschwitz concentration camp and assigned prisoner number 189,154. After less than a month, on 4th of July of the same year, he was transported to Mauthausen concentration camp, where he survived until liberation.
Genowefa Szwarc – Fiter
On 23rd of July 1943, the woman was deported to the Auschwitz concentration camp, where she was assigned prisoner number 50,424. She passed away on 18th of January 1944, and her death was recorded by a fellow inmate named Monika Galica (Galicyna) in one of the clandestine reports, which included the names of nearly 7,000 Polish women who perished in the camp.
Henryk Roman
The man was a mechanical engineer. He was arrested on 15th of August 1940, for hiding individuals of Jewish nationality [their personal details are unknown]. He was held in a prison in Sosnowiec for nearly three weeks, and on 5th of September of the same year, he was sent to the Auschwitz camp, where he was assigned prisoner number 3,734. On  2nd of August 1944, he managed to escape from his workplace within the construction site of the Buna-Werke synthetic rubber factory, operated by the IG Farben conglomerate.
Genowefa Frączek
The woman was born on  8th of December 1912 in Połaniec [currently Staszów County, Świętokrzyskie Voivodeship]. During World War II, she lived in Sosnowiec. In October 1942, she was arrested in Olkusz on charges of aiding Jews [the names of the Jews she helped and the type of assistance provided remain unknown]. On 2nd of January 1943, she was sent to the Auschwitz concentration camp, where she was assigned the prisoner number EH-137 [numbers starting with the letters EH were designated since 16th of July 1941 as Erziehungshäftlinge, which translates to "educational prisoners" or "prisoners for corrective purposes." This category was primarily composed of Poles who were sent to the Auschwitz camp for violating rules and discipline in the forced labor they were subjected to by the occupying authorities. Their placement in Auschwitz was intended to serve as a lesson in humility and obedience]. Genowefa Frączek worked in the camp cleaning fish ponds. On 24th of March 1943 she was transported to the Gestapo headquarters in Katowice, but just three days later, she was released due to a typhus outbreak there. Her subsequent fate remains unknown.

"So go, even if you know that you are going to the grave, because there is no fear in you, but you are through fear"
- Krzysztof Kamil Baczyński, "Anxiety of Things"
   One of the commanders of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, Marek Edelman (1919 – 2019), said that:  "The Holocaust is the defeat of civilization" . One cannot disagree with his words. But the Holocaust also had a different meaning. It was probably the greatest test of humanity in the history of mankind. In the face of millions of victims, only a few passed it: those who took an escapee from the ghetto under their roof and shared the last slice of bread with them; people who, regardless of the risk, helped Jews get through to the "Aryan side" and made false identity documents for them; men who built shelters for Jews in their own farms or forests; women who loved Jewish children or babies left to them by their parents as their own offspring. They experienced violence themselves, and yet they rose above their own suffering.
   Their stories were kept quiet for many years. The situation in the country ravaged by the war had a huge impact on this. In Polish society, it was quite common to believe that people who provided support to persecuted Jews became significantly rich from this. Those hiding were supposed to give them money and gold in gratitude. For people living in extreme poverty, physically and mentally exhausted, there was quite a temptation to improve their own financial situation, hence the houses of people in which Jews had been hiding were often subject to robbery. The silence was also caused by post-war anti-Semitism. The pogroms of the Jewish population in Radom, Kraków or Kielce, which took place shortly after the end of the war, constituted cruel evidence that the brutal murder of three million fellow citizens of Jewish origin did not change the general attitude of Poles towards Jews. Stereotypes, which had been accumulated and perpetuated for centuries, survived the Holocaust.
    "When a stranger Jew knocked on the window [...] at night, along with him knocked the Jewish problem of those years, with all the tangle of implications, risks, dangers, along with the need to make a decision and the spiritual dilemma that went with it. The fugitive asks for help, for a spoonful of food, for a few moments to warm themselves in a cozy corner […]. The peasant faces the question: how to react? They realize that a moral problem has knocked on their window, the problem of a human being who has been denied humanity, a major humanitarian issue has come knocking . An eternal problem affecting thousands of generations: the problem of the temporary predominance of evil, the problem of the pursued and persecuted. At such a moment, it is necessary for a person to check themselves, confront their attitude with a moral imperative. The risk involved in siding with the good – the hunted – has always been great. However, between 1939 and 1945, the magnitude of this risk was incomparably large."
- Szymon Datner, "Forest of the Righteous", Warsaw 1968, p. 27.
   Fortunately, the fate of Poles, to whom some of the Sosnowiec Jews owed their salvage, has not been forgotten. Thanks to documents, memories and letters, it is possible to get to know them. Both positive and negative emotions emanate from the relations of both parties – the rescuers and the rescued – which reflect various experiences, but one word is definitely the most common in them. The word is fear. The rescuers were scared primarily about their loved ones, because the Germans applied collective responsibility with brutal consistency. They were worried about their charges. They were afraid of denunciators, shmaltsovniks and greedy neighbours. Aware of the danger, they may have sometimes regretted taking Jews in. But they neither told them about this directly nor made them feel it. At the moment when the persecuted person crossed the threshold of a Polish house, fate tied them to the fate of the hosts.
   The Jews being hidden were scared about their own lives, the lives of their relatives and of their friends. They were afraid that, that sooner or later, someone will discover their asylum. They were scared about people who showed kindness to them, because their presence could lead to their death. After some time, both parties somehow learned to live with this fear, they tamed it. It became part of their everyday life, and its apparent mastering created a special bond between them, which was characterized by solidarity, empathy, co-responsibility and unity in the face of the borderline situation.
    "Heroism is not a social norm and does not set universal standards of behaviour. Not everyone can and or wants to be a hero. There is no heroism on a mass scale. Heroism is a >>deviation from the norm<<, it is an exception, opposing the instinct of self-preservation in the name of values higher than the preserving of one's own life. If we refuse to acknowledge this, we betray the memory of the Righteous and plunge them into clichés. Everyone's natural reflex is to withdraw their hand when it is near a flame. Those who dared to help Jews, risking their lives and the lives of their loved ones, were able to keep their hand in the flame and not retreat."
- Jacek Leociak "The faces of the Righteous, [in:] " Poles who rescued Jews during the Holocaust. Recalling Forgotten History", Łódź 2009, p. 14.
   In the last dozen or so years, knowledge about the Righteous among the Nations in Poland has increased significantly. Academics more and more often organise conferences, seminars and initiate research projects to popularize their history. Museums in numerous towns prepare exhibitions, thanks to which their residents can learn about the history of extraordinary people who lived in their vicinity. In recent years, a number of junior high and secondary schools have implemented projects in the field of oral history, in which students conducted and recorded interviews with witnesses of history. And on the Polish publishing market, many books have appeared on the subject of the Righteous Among the Nations. These are items of a scholarly, but also popular nature, reportages, collections of interviews with the Righteous, anthologies of memories, novels inspired by their fates, and even comic books. In May 2012, The European Parliament established the European Day of the Righteous, which has been celebrated on 6th of March each year since 2013. This date is not accidental, because Moshe Bejski (1921–2007), a politician, activist of the Zionist movement, judge and chairman of the Justice Committee of the Yad Vashem Institute and co-creator of the definition of Righteous Among the Nations, died on that day.

Na naszej stronie stosujemy pliki cookies. Korzystanie z witryny bez zmiany ustawień dotyczących cookies oznacza, że będą one zamieszczone w Państwa urządzeniu. Więcej szczegółów w naszej Polityce Prywatności.
hermesbirkinae parsmovies