The Zawadzki Family

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Story of Rescue - The Zawadzki Family

When Zofia attended the Queen Jadwiga middle school in Siedlce before the war, one of her best friends was Cypora Jabłoń. In 1942, the Germans started to close down the ghetto and Cypora (whose surname was Zonszajn by then) carried her one-year-old daughter Rachela out of the ghetto to the home of another school friend, Irena Zawadzka. Irena and her mother agreed to look after the baby girl. Though Cypora had the opportunity to stay on the Aryan side, she returned to her husband and parents in the ghetto. Soon after, all of them perished.

In the summer of 1943, Zofia took the little girl to her home in the village of Zakrzówek near Lublin, where Zofia was running a cooperative school. “I knew I had to help Irka Zawadzka and her mother; my duty toward this little girl was the same as theirs,” Zofia explains. “I didn’t ask anyone whether I should take Rachela – I just did it. My parents lived in Siedlce, in good conditions, but I didn’t want to burden them with this. I regret having burdened my sister.”

Zofia’s sister raised Rachelka together with her own son, Janek. Schoolgirls and teachers also helped care for Rachela. “The entire school was a single community,” says Zofia.“ Rachela was surrounded by people we trusted. Nobody really pried into the child’s history.”

After the war, the girl’s uncle from Israel took her in. Rachela has returned to Poland every year to visit Irena and Zofia.


  • Schnepf Zuzanna, Interview with Irena Zawadzka, 1.01.2007
  • Gutman Israel red. nacz., Księga Sprawiedliwych wśród Narodów Świata, Ratujący Żydów podczas Holocaustu