Piotrowska Jadwiga

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“Her house became an ‘Emergency Help Station’ of sorts for people who left the ghetto” – the story of Jadwiga Piotrowska

Jadwiga Piotrowska lived in Warsaw and, before the war, was an employee of the Care and Health Division of Warsaw Authorities [Wydział Opieki i Zdrowia Zarządu m. st. Warszawy], working at the department for care over children and young people. She was from a pious Catholic family and the Christian values practised at her family home had exerted a major influence on her work and life choices.

Piotrowska was still in Warsaw during the occupation, actively involved in helping children. She was also a member of underground organisations and, in time, became a liaison for the Home Army (Armia Krajowa), nicknamed Jaga. She worked together with people such as Jan Dobraczyński from the social matters division and, together with him, she organised aid for children from the most poverty-stricken families.

When she learned about the dramatic situation of Jewish children in the Warsaw ghetto, she contacted, inter alia, Janusz Korczak and took steps to ameliorate their fate, even if only a little. After some time, she joined the Council to Aid Jews “Żegota” and helped in an operation organised for transferring Jewish children to the “Aryan side” and placing them with Polish families and in convents. She even wanted to adopt one of the boys whom she helped, his name was Janek Drzewicki. He stayed with her since 1943. After the war, in 1946, his sister found him and took him to Canada.

She organised hiding places, money, jobs, and fake documents for adult Jews. Jewish fugitives would often stay at her house. She aided many people who found themselves outside of the ghetto without any money and anyone to help them. She prepared them for life on the “Aryan side” by teaching them prayers and instructing them about how to behave not to make people suspicious.

Irena Sendler recalled as follows: “Her house became an ‘Emergency Help Station’ of sorts for people who left the ghetto. Adults, children, and young people all stayed there. [...] Jadwiga led children out of the ghetto and prepared fake documents [...] There were many devoted liaisons striving to save Jewish people but Mrs Jadwiga was one of the most devoted and bravest of them. Nothing was difficult or impossible for her. She was always the first to act, ready to face obstacles, never afraid”.

Jadwiga Piotrowska considered helping Jews her patriotic duty and her religious calling. She kept in touch with many saved people after the war, including Pola and Mieczysław Monat who emigrated to the USA.

Other Stories of Rescue in the Area

Bibliography

  • Archiwum Żydowskiego Instytutu Historycznego, Dział odznaczeń Yad Vashem. Dokumentacja sprawy Jadwigi Piotrowskiej, 349/24/944
  • Gutman Israel red. nacz., Księga Sprawiedliwych wśród Narodów Świata, Ratujący Żydów podczas Holocaustu, Kraków 2009