Michalska Krystyna

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“I was discrete and very careful” – the story of Krystyna Michalska

Krystyna Michalska lived in Czarnków nad Notecią with her father Edward and her mother Jadwiga (nee Piechota). Before the war, the family traded in horses which were exported to the Netherlands.

In December 1939, when the then Poznańskie Province was incorporated into the Reich, the Germans resettled the Michalski family to the factory settlement of Bączki (Mazowieckie Province, Węgrowski District), where farm machinery was produced. Krystyna worked there as a telephonist. Her father became a land agent in nearby Łochów. Her mother died in 1941.

In the factory, Krystyna met Tadeusz Wolpert, a storeman, who was using false documents under the name “Kapczyński”. He was the same age as Krystyna – they were twenty years old. They became emotionally involved. It was only by accident that Krystyna learned that Tadeusz was Jewish.

“At first, it was a great shock and I wasn’t able to cope with the situation”, says Krystyna Michalska. “I realised that I was in mortal danger. I was discrete and extremely careful when it came to contact with our acquaintances”.

She did not reveal the secret even to her family. Soon, however, rumours began circulating regarding Tadeusz’s origins. Krystyna supported him in those difficult, dangerous moments.

“They suspected that I was a Jew. Krystyna firmly denied it, stating that she knew my family and knew that we were Poles”, recalls Tadeusz. “At the time, my mother, my sister Rachela, my aunt Dora and grandmother Chana were given German permits to travel by train from the Warsaw ghetto to Stoczek Węgrowski, where my mother worked as a dentist. There was a very strange connection between German bureaucracy and brutality”.

His father, Maurycy Wolpert, died in the Warsaw ghetto. When, in July 1942, the Germans began the mass extermination of Jews from Warsaw and the surrounding places, for a few days Tadeusz’s mother hid herself with peasants whom she knew. She then turned to her son for help.

“At that time, there was a round-up of Jews in Bączki, with the aid of the local military police and Polish police. At all costs, we had to transport my mother to Warsaw”.

Krystyna helped Regina. She brought her to her own home in Wymysły, where Regina could eat, rest and prepare herself for her onward journey. They were twice confronted by danger. The first time was when they were caught by a Polish policeman, the second time by German military police. Thanks to Krystyna being alter enough to introduce Regina as her relative and also due to the intervention of her well-respected father, they were able to avoid further investigation.

At the Łochów station, Regina Wolpert’s care was entrusted to Kazimierz Brzuszkiewicz – a friend of Tadeusz and Krystyna. He hid Regina in his sister’s empty apartment in the Warsaw suburb of Praga. Because she had no papers, she was unable to leave the apartment. So, every day, Tadeusz and Krystyna would bring her food. Part of it came from the Michalski home. So Krystyna thought up different excuses so that her father would not notice the disappearance of provisions from the house. “I said that we were going to bathe in Liwiec”.

By the end of the year, Tadeusz a false identity card for his mother under the name of “Franciszka Giedyk”. From that time, she could move around Warsaw more freely and so she rented an apartment.

In the spring of 1944, with the Russian front drawing closer, Tadeusz, together with other workers from the same factory, was evacuated to Warsaw. He lived on Chmielna Street and continued working as a storeman. On Sundays, he would visit Krystyna, who had remained in Bączki. He later rented an apartment for his mother in Zagościniec. “A summer apartment would arouse less suspicion”, he said. He would visit her together with Krystyna. He was there when the Warsaw Uprising broke out and at the beginning of September 1944 when the Red Army entered.

After the war, Tadeusz and Krystyna wanted to marry, but her father was against it when he discovered that her fiancé was Jewish. She strongly opposed the marriage.

The Wolperts returned to their home city of Łódż. In 1957, the emigrated to Sweden but, for the rest of their lives, Krystyna and Tadeusz remained in contact.

In 2000, the Yad Vashem Institute homoured Krystyna Michalska with the title of Righteous Among the Nations. At the initiative of Tadeusz Wolpert, Kazimierz Brzuszkiewicz was also honoured with the same title.

Bibliography

  • Jadwiga Rytlowa, 21.04.2009
  • Archiwum Żydowskiego Instytutu Historycznego, Dział Yad Vashem, akta sprawy Krystyny Michalskiej, sygn. 349/2463.