Vale Zbigniew Mańkowski (1929–2020)

Redakcja/Editorial staff, ENglish translation:Andrew Rajcher, 2 December 2020
With great sorrow, we were advised of the passing of Zbigniew Mańkowski (1929–2020), Righteous Among the Nations (1986), Honorary Citizen of the State of Israel (1992), long-serving Secretary of the Polish Association of the Righteous (1991–2008), awarded the Knight’s Cross of the Order of Polonia Restituta (2007), friend of POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews. He passed away on 24th November 2020 at the age of ninety-one. He was a noble, courageous, wise and modest man. In farewelling Zbigniew Mańkowski, we recall the story of the aid which his family provided to Jews during the Holocaust.

One day, Ziuta asks my mother, “Are you satisfied with my work?”. “Yes, you’re careful, clean and you cook well. Everything is fine.” “But, you don’t know one thing, that I am Jewish. Will I still be able to stay with you under these circumstances?”. Two major dilemmas arose. Firstly, my mother’s – did she have the moral right to risk the lives  [...] of three sons in order to save someone? And secondly, that of Ziuta, the Jew – [...] did she have the right to risk the lives of [...] these five or so people in order to save her own? […] And, here, my mother said, “I hugged Ziuta, on this bench, kissed her and said, ‘You’re staying. You will be my daughter, you will be my sons’ sister’.” That’s what she said. She had made the decision. People ask me, “What would you have done today?”. I don’t know, I have no idea! Maybe I would say, “I have children – it’s too much of a risk”. I don’t know how I would act, but I know what I did then – Zbigniew Mańkowski.

During the German occupation, Zbigniew Mańkowski and his parents, Bronisław and Janina, as well as his brothers, Andrzej and Jerzy, extended help to Jews in Warsaw.

From the spring of 1942 until the outbreak of the Warsaw Uprising in August 1944. in their home at 5 Gimnastyczna Street in Mokotów, they hid Regina Fern (after the war Pankowska), a Jewish woman from Lwów, known as Ziuta. She had initially worked as a housekeeper for the Mańkowski family. From 1943, Irena Fejgin (Filipowska) also found shelter with them.

In recognition of the help provided during the Holocaust, on 3rd November 1986, the Mańkowski family was honoured by the Yad Vashem Institute in Jerusalem with the title of Righteous Among the Nations. Their story has been published on our Polish Righteous portal, based on, among other things, an interview given by Zbigniew Mańkowski to POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews in 2010.

» Read and listen to: The Story of the Mańkowski Family

From 1991 to 2008, Zbigniew Mańkowski served as Secretary of the Polish Association of the RIghteous. In 1992, he was made an Honorary Citizen of the State of Israel and, in 2007, the President of Poland awarded him the Knight’s Cross of the Order of Polonia Restituta. In 2016, he took part in the 30th Anniversary Gala of the Polish Association of the Righteous, which took place at POLIN Museum.

He passed away on 24th November 2020 at the age of ninety-one. We will remember him as a noble, courageous, wise and modest man. His final farewell will take place at the Funeral Home at the Powązki Military Cemetery on 8th December 2020 at 12 noon. We express our sincere condolences to his daughter Elżbieta, his family and to members of the Polish Association of the Righteous.