"Future Generations Will Hear About Them" – a Ceremony Honouring the Righteous in Kraków

Mateusz Szczepaniak, 1st July 2017
A ceremony took place on 30th June 2017, during the 27th Kraków Jewish Festival, in which Adam Janik, Wincenty and Maria Kwiatkowski, as well as Bronisława Porwit were posthumously honoured with the title of Righteous Among the Nations. Their medals and certificates were accepted on their behalf by members of their families. Among those participating were Speaker of the Sejm (Polish parliament) Marek Kuchciński and Speaker of the Knesset (Israeli Parliament) Yuli Edelstein.

"Soon after the State of Israel came into existence, the question was posed Who are Jews? It turns out that Jews are those who remember. We have an obligation to remember those dark times", said Yuli Edelstein, during the ceremony at the Galicia Jewish Museum. "I turn to the Polish families – if you saved one person, then you have truly saved hundreds. Those who were rescued gave children to the world, then grandchildren and great-grandchildren. And that child, to whom you gave shelter, was not alone. There were also the hundreds who live today".

The Speaker of the Sejm, Marek Kuchciński, noted that the stories of the Righteous are documented and told through projects such as POLIN Museum's "Polish Righteous – Restoring Memory" project. He said, "Our obligation is to be a depository of the truth about the Holocaust. Then we will recognise the greatness of the Righteous Among the Nation".

"Today, we honour, as Righteous, Adam Janik, Maria and Wincenty Kwiatkowski, and  Bronisława Porwit. These are people who restore hope for humanity", said Israeli Ambassador to Poland, Anna Azari, in a letter to the ceremony.

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During World War II, Dr Adam Janik (1913-2011) lived, with his family, in the village of Ujazd near Trzciana (Bocheński District, Małopolskie Province). In 1942, he gave shelter to Pola (Pesa) Galińska and her daughter Danusia (Dwora) who, using false papers, sought shelter following the opening, by the Germans, of a ghetto in their hometown of Sandomierz. Adam Janik agreed to help them despite the inital objections of his wife. The Galiński family were found by their father and husband who, over the next few days, also lived with the Janiks. After changing his hiding place, he was caught and murdered by the Germans, Pola and Danusia survived until liberation and, after the War, they left for israel. "For many years, we maintained contact with the family whom dad helped", recalled Małgorzata Janik-Trella, Adam Janik's daughter. "From my childhood, I remember parcels of citrus fruit coming from Palestine which were taken aprt at the Post Office".

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Wincenty Kwiatkowski (1897-1951) and his wife Maria (1908-1981) lived in Przeworsk (Podkarpackie Province). When, at the befginning of the War, the Germans began deporting Jews from the town, Wincenty met Mojżesz Kesten on the street. He was the son of a friend who owned a paint shop. because of the persecution aimed at the Jews, he offered to help Mojżesz if he was in danger. A year later, he turned to the Kwiatkowski couple for help. For over two years, he hid in the attic of their home, writing a diary during the entire period. Only the oldest Kwiatkowski daughter, thirteen year old Janina, knew of his presence. She helped her parents to keep him hidden. After the War, Kesten left for Israel, but maintained contact with his benefactors.

"We never spoke of this story for many years after the War. The fear from the occupation time remained. It was our son who convinced us to remember the deeds of my parents", said Maria Nowak, daughter of the Kwiatkowskis, who took part in the ceremony with her numerous siblings.

Also at the ceremony was Mojżesz's, daughter Tamar Blumberg, who recalled, "before the War, Wincenty Kwiatkowski bought paint for walls from my father. That was his trade. When Wincenty didn't have money, my father gave his credit. Dad didn't expect that this debt would be repaid through the saving of his life during the War".

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Before the War, Bronisława Porwit (dec'd 1968) worked in the "Pod Kogutkiem" bar in Kraków, which belonged to the Ehrlich family. When, in 1942, her former emploers and their relatives tried to get their children out of the ghetto, they reached Bronisława, who had already helped Jews from the Kraków ghetto. Together with Hanna Lemek (former nanny of the Ehrlich children) she led Pola, Ada and Olga out of the ghetto. Hanna took the girls to Muszyn, where her brother looked after them. Bronisława then took the boys, Marcel and Janek to Bochnia and placed them in the care of Mrs Suskind. In 1943m the children were transported to Hungary and then ro Rumania, thanks to which theu survived the Holocausty.

"We would not be here if not for Bronka. But I'm here with my children who, from their youngest years, have heard about bronka, as will our future generations", said survivor Aneta Weinreich (nee Barel).

Bronisława Porwit's medal and certificate were accepted by her niece, Elżbieta Kołodziej.