The Chawinski Family

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“I surrounded the child with loving care, brought her back to health and had her baptised”. The story of the Chawiński family

During the German occupation, Bogumiła and Jan Chawiński lived in Sosnowiec, at 9a Naftowa Street. One day, in 1941, Danuta (Doba) Bachmajer (née Szwarcbaum), Bogumiła's friend from school, came to her asking her to hide her six-month-old daughter – Lucynka.

The Chawiński couple agreed to take in the child. They had no children of their own,so that they could officially adopt her. However, in the first instance the would have to be in a public care facility. The child was soon placed into a hospital located in the Pekin district of Sosnowiec. From there, she was then taken to another facility in the city, in the Sielec district. After some time, Bogumiła obtained consent from the German administration to adopt Lucynka: “When we were granted the child, she was in catastropihic health. I surrounded her with loving care, brought her back to health and had her baptised in the Catholic church in Sosnowiec”.

After the liquidation of the Sosnowiec ghetto in August 1943, Danuta Bachmajer managed to cross into the “Aryan side”. She immediately went to the Chawiński home. Bogumiła took Danuta in, dyed her hair blonde and hid her for a month. Thanks to help from the Home Army (AK), Jan Chawiński obtained false documents for her. Under her assumed identity, Danuta left for the General Government where she hid with friends of the Chawiński couple.

When the War ended, Danuta returned Sosnowiec to collect her daughter. Bogumiła Chawińska recalled: “I don't have to write about what I and my husband experienced after we returned the child to her biological mother. It was a tragedy in my home. That experience also affected our health and even more the health of our beloved Lucynka. At the time, she was five-years-old and didn't understand that she had been raised by foster parents and that her real mother was Danuta Bachmajer”.

In 1947, Danuta and Lucyna left for Australia. They retained correspondence contact with the Chawiński couple and, in 1979, Lucyna visited her wartime carers in Sosnowiec.

In 1985, Bogumiła and Jan Chawiński were honoured with the title of Righteous Among the Nations.

Bibliography

  • Archiwum Żydowskiego Instytutu Historycznego, Dział Dokumentacji Odznaczeń Yad Vashem, 349/270