Story of rescue

enlarge map
Photos: 1

“I decided to help her, because we thought that the War would soon be over”. The story of the Spiołek family

During the War, dental technician Ludwik Spiołek lived in Chorzów. During 1939–1943, while working with Katowice dentists, he met Edward Stauber, a Jew.

In June 1943, a friend of Stauber's, Hanna Rosenberg, came to Katowice. Together with her five-year-old daughter, she had been living in ghettoes – first in Chrzanów and then  in Sosnowiec. As Ludwik Spiołek recalled: “She came […] to our laboratory to see Edward Stauber and asked him for help to get her and her daughter out of the ghetto, as the transports to the death camps had begun”.

Stauber told Spiołek about it and asked him for his support: “I decided to help her, because we thought that the War would soon be over”.

Ludwik and Hanna travelled to Sosnowiec. In order to enter the ghetto, Ludwik pinned a yellow Star of David onto his clothes. Inside the ghetto, he met Hanna's mother, her siblings and her daughter Halina: “After a short conversation, I took two large suitcases filled with Hanna's personal belongings and left the ghetto, but not through the exit gate. I left through a deep ditch which ran along the railway track from Sosnowiec to Będzin, after which I took the tram to Katowice”.

The following day, he returnd top Sosnowiec to collect the woman and child: “After a dramatic farewell with the whoel family, I gave Halina a silver chanin and medallion as a talisman”.

Taking more of their belongings, Ludwik led Hanna and the child through the ditch by the railway tracks. Stauber was waiting for them in Katowice. Thanks to help from a friend, he took Hanna and Halina to Lipowiec in the Beskid region, where they lived in a rented room, posing as passing holidaymakers. When it ceased to be safe to remain there, Spiołek placed them in the home of his sister Maria in Chorzów.

Maria's husband was serving in the German army. When he returned home unexpectedly, they had to leave. At that time, Spiołek's aunt, Marta Drobisz, lived her Katowice. He asked her to take in Hanna and Halina, as well as, for a time, Hanna's brother-in-law Leopold Windstrauch – a fugitive from an extermination camp transport. Leopold hid in the Drobisz home by day and, by night, he stayed in the dental laboratory, Spiołek's workplace. From the end of August 1944, he hid in a village in the Zagłębie Dąbrowskie region.

In the autumn of 1944, Hanna fell ill with inguinal gland inflammation and was operated on in the local hospital. Ludwik brought Hanna to the home of his parents. Bronisława and Emanuel Spiołek, who surrounded Hanna and her daughter with loving care. Ludwik recalled: “This was already the period when Allied planes were bombing the Third Reich and when its populace would often have to go down into shelters. In order to safeguard Hanna and her child from dangerous apartment inspections, we placed a wardrobe in front of the doorway between the rooms. When necessary, they could hide in that. In that manner, Hanna Rosenberg and her daughter Halina survived the last months of the War and awaited liberation”. 

Hanna Rosenberg  and her daughter left Poland in 1946 and settled in Australia.

In 1991, Ludwik Spiołek, and his parents Bronisława and Emanuel, were honoured with the title of Righteous Among the Nations.

Bibliography

  • Archiwum Żydowskiego Instytutu Historycznego, Dział Dokumentacji Odznaczeń Yad Vashem, 349/1252