The Nawloka Family

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Story of Rescue - The Nawloka Family

During the Nazi occupation Michalina and Stanisław Nawłoka were living at the train station in Borki Wielkie near Tarnopol. They rescued a Jewish girl, Rozalia Wassner.

At the outbreak of the Second World War, Bencjon Wassner, his wife and 6-year-old daughter were living in Gdynia. In the autumn of 1939 they were displaced by the Nazis and had to move to the house of their family who lived in Przemyśl. At that time the city was under Soviet occupation. In 1941 the Germans took it over and brutal persecutions of the Jewish population started. In July 1942 all members of the family except Bencjon and one of the aunts were transferred to the ghetto. An aunt living in Lviv – wife of a Pole who was hiding thanks to “Aryan papers” – tried to help them.

During the liquidation of the ghetto, the Wassners were deported to the Bełżec extermination camp. They were all killed. Only Rozalia survived – at the very last minute her mother told her to run away and to reach Lviv. She managed to get there and found her aunt, who obtained a false baptismal certificate for her. The girl received a new “Aryan” identity and from now on was named Rozalia Stanisława Dudzińska. However, a domestic of her aunt figured out the girl was Jewish and started blackmailing her.

As a result, Rozalia was moved to the Nawłokas’, who were friends of her family. They were really poor people, lived in a single room with a kitchen and had two children. It was extremely risky, because the Nawłokas organized clandestine classes at their place and Germans were stationed in their building.

One day the Nazis became suspicious of the girl. Rozalia had to prove she was a Pole – she started saying prayers, singing religious songs and talking about Catholic holidays. She answered correctly because before the war she went to a Polish kindergarten and the Nawłokas prepared her for this kind of situation. The danger was huge – every wrong answer could lead to the killing of the whole family. On that day Michalina Nawłoka went gray.

They all survived the Nazi occupation. After the war, Rozalia started living with her aunt. Bencjon Wassner, who survived the war in the USSR, returned to Poland in 1947 and took his daughter with him. In the sixties, she emigrated to Israel, where she started a family. Today she has three children and five grandchildren.

During the ceremony of honoring the Nawłoka family with the title “Righteous Among the Nations” Rozalia Wassner said: “Today I would like to talk about my saviors and about the great heroism it requires to give the same amount of food to a third child who isn’t yours. Even at times of great hunger they shared each slice of bread – which was so rare – into three equal parts. I have three children and I don’t know if in the same circumstances I would be able to give my child less in order to feed someone else’s child. It is the greatest heroism one can ever imagine”.