The Doboszynski Family

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The story of the Doboszyński family

Before the War, Jerzy and Zofia Doboszyński lived in Warsaw. They were both employed in the “Kabel” News Agency. When it turned out that their apartment was located in that part of the city designated for the Germans, they were forced to move to 2 Radzymińska Street in the Warsaw suburb of Praga.

The Doboszyński couple were active in the underground, in the Związek Walki Zbrojnej i Kierownictwo Walki Cywilnej (Union of Armed Struggle and the Directorate of Civil Resistance) and, from inside their apartment, they monitored radio transmissions, hid seals and blank documents used in underground activities, as well as published and distributed the underground press.

Zofia had contacts with the municipal authorities, the General Department, the municipal printing house and the population registry which, over time, became extremely important when she became active hiding Jews. Zofia’s pseudonym was “Monika”. She reported to Bronisław Chajęcki (1902-1953), pseudonyms “Tomaszewski” and “Patryk” (1902-1953). Before the War, he was an educator and was active in the scouting movement. According to a statement by Wanda Doboszyńska in 1982, she provided documents and found housing for about twenty five Jews in hiding. She and her husband also helped the Polish Underground to issue warnings about eight szmalcownicy (blackmailers).

Chajęcki introduced Zofia to Henryk Wolinski "Wacław" (1901-1986) from the Jewish Office of the Bureau of Information and Propaganda of the Home Army, and then to Wawrzyniec Żuławski (namely,Jerzy Wawrzyniec Żuławski, 1916-1957), a musicologist, mountaineer and writer, who was looking for people to work for the Council to Aid Jews "Żegota". As Zofia wrote in her account for the book Ten jest z mojej ojczyzny, "I began to think of myself as a Żegota worker and encouraged others to become involved". Thanks to her wide range of contacts contacts, and with considerable caution, she was able to find temporary hiding places, even in very difficult instances. As she wrote in the same account and not without pride, “People began saying that I had a 'lucky hand'".

Looking for hiding places on the so-called “Aryan side”, Doboszyńska asked for help from her friends, acquaintances and relatives, especially amongst the intelligentsia. She sought extra people who were willing to rent out an apartment for a proposed price. One of her close associates was  Waleria Unieszowska ("Petrosława"), the wife of the head of the Navy’s health division, Lieutenant Commander Dr. Adam Unieszowski, who placed the Jews, brought to him by Doboszyńska, into the homes of the wives of Polish officers known to him.

Apart from her underground contacts, she was also persuaded her brother to help persecuted Jews. At the beginning of 1942, Doboszyńska received a request from her brother, who was in Pawiak prison, to take Bronisława Gomólińska out of the Warsaw Ghetto. She was the wife of a fellow prisoner, a Jewish Home Army officer, Jerzy Michał Gomóliński, (“Rogala”). She was also asked to take out their six-year daughter Jadwiga and Bronisława’s aunt, Zofia Koerner. Doboszyńska took them to her apartment in Praga.

Because her appearance and accent which would arouse suspicion, Koerner was provided with documents in the name of “Aniela Piszczyk”, and remained with Doboszyńska as her housekeeper. In her 1982 statement in 1982, Zofia Doboszyńska wrote, "She meant to stay with us for only a few days, but stayed until Praga was liberated and until 1945, when she left to go to her family in Wałbrzych".

Jerzy Doboszyński provided Bronisława and Jadwiga with documents and his wife rented an apartment for them on the “Aryan side”. Gomóliński escaped from prison and, for a short time, also stayed with Doboszyński couple. He took part in the Warsaw Uprising, serving in the “Wigry” Scouting Battalion".

Doboszyński visited his Jewish journalist friends in the Warsaw Ghetto, supported his wife in her activities, provided documents, escorted his charges to new hiding places, visited those in hiding, played chess and cards with them, discussed the underground press, and tried to encourage them. He taught Zofia Koerner how to pray and prepared her to play the role of housekeeper Aniela Piszczyk on the “Aryan side”.

Doboszyńska found an apartment for Halina Brąz (a false name) and organised her name day in order to authenticate her identity to her roommates in Wanda Zubalewicz’s apartment on Marszałkowska Street (on the corner of Skorupki Street). She also looked after the Leśniewski-Landau family - Eda wife survived the War in, among other places, the house of Doboszyńska’s friend, Maria Chodasiewicz on Ursynowska Street.

Jerzy Doboszyński died in the Old Town during the Warsaw Uprising. Zofia was a nurse in the Warsaw District of the Home Army, in the Field Hospital at 27 Wspólna Street. She was seriously injured and taken to Saxony. Koerner was the first person who waited for her on her return to Warsaw.

In her 1982 statement, Doboszyńska described the complex motives forced her take care of Zofia Koerner and to become involved in the rescue of Jews: "My help resulted from an obligation to rescue my fellow countrymen, Jews, an order from the Organization, the desire to rebel against the orders of the occupier and, in my case, the desire to fulfill my brother’s final request".

After the War, Zofia Doboszyńska maintained cordial relationships with many of the people whom she had helped. In 1946, she went to Katowice to attend the funeral of Zofia Koerner. She always talked about her colleagues with affection. When she wrote her account for the book Ten jest z ojczyzny mojej, she stressed that she wanted to preserve, from oblivion, the deeds of her husband and other activists of and contributors to "Żegota". "This is the main reason that I took to writing these memories - to save, from oblivion, the names of people who are already dead. [...] They risked so much because for such noble motives. Someone has to remember them and I want to be that person. That is why I decided to break the silence which lasted 22 years”.

In 1982 Jadwiga Strzyżewska described Zofia’s role in saving the members of her family, stressing at the same time “the widowed Zofia Doboszynska is a good friend of my mother and me".

In 1983, Yad Vashem honoured Zofia and Jerzy Doboszyński with the title of the Righteous Among the Nations. 

Other Stories of Rescue in the Area

Bibliography

  • Bartoszewski Władysław, Lewinówna Zofia, Ten jest z ojczyzny mojej, Warszawa 2007
    This publication consists of 3 parts: monographic outline of the issue of aid given to the Jews; collection of German and Polish documents concerning the histories of Jews and the aid given to them; collection of the post-war reports created by Poles and Jews about the aid.
  • Archiwum Żydowskiego Instytutu Historycznego, 349, 150