The Gwozdowicz Family

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The story of the Gwozdowicz family

In 1941, fourteen-year-old Lusia Rosen was forced to live in the ghetto in Bursztyn near Halicz. There she saw the Nazis kill her little sister, parents and grandparents. She was the only one to escape.       

Before it had happened, the Gwozdowicz family, who had been neighbors of the Rosens before the World War Two, had brought them food to the ghetto. And a note with their new address.

Helena Gwozdowicz-Kowalewska recounts:

“My mother had told Lusia that if she were in danger, she should come to us to Przemyśl. Every time we went there [to Bursztyn – red.] to visit my father’s grave, we tried to bring them some food, money, and always that note with the address”.  

Lusia reached Przemyśl on foot, exhausted, hungry and with high fever. A priest she met on her way gave her the birth certificate of Józefa Bałda, her peer who had recently died. Later, Ms Gwozdowicz organized an identity card for her using the same name. In Przemyśl, pretending to be Józefa Bałda, the daughter of a maid of the Gwozdowiczs, she worked at the German officers’ mess.

“I remember I heard sounds of gunfire at night, very intense, and in the morning, when we went out in the yard, we saw a Russian soldier. The Germans were gone. (...) So she was free”.     

Soon after the war Lusia Rosen left for France, and then, with her husband, for Israel.

Helena Gwozdowicz graduated from a teacher’s college.

“I taught until 1974, then worked part-time in school for 15 years. I worked also as the manager of the youth club and library. I am 93 years old now and I still teach children at home. I give private lessons and teach secondary school, high school, and primary school children”.

Lusia Rosen and Helena Gwozdowicz-Kowalewska are still friends.


  • Gutman Israel red. nacz., Księga Sprawiedliwych wśród Narodów Świata, Ratujący Żydów podczas Holocaustu