Agnieszka Kaniut and Maria Kaluza

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Story of Rescue - Agnieszka Kaniut and Maria Kaluza

Before World War II, Abram and Lea Spiegel lived in Chorzów with their two daughters. Forced to leave their home once the Germans occupied Poland, the family went to Abram’s relatives in Wolbrom. Later, they moved to Sosnowiec, where they ended up in the ghetto located in the suburbs of the city, in the Środula district.

In 1943, faced with liquidation actions inside the ghetto, the Spiegels decided to hide their daughters on the Aryan side. They asked their Polish acquaintance, Agnieszka Kaniut, for help. Estera and little Cipora were spirited away in garbage bins and taken to a factory outside the ghetto where Lea worked. From there Mrs. Kaniut took the girls to her house in Chorzów.

In the beginning, Estera and Cipora were hidden in the coal cellar, and later, due to their deteriorating health, the girls were moved into the house. Such solution, however, carried a greater risk of disclosure. Therefore, Mrs. Kaniut decided to give Estera away to her brother, Augustyn Kansa.

Augustyn’s daughter, Maria, assumed care over the child. Estera recalls: “[Maria] looked after me (…), cared for me in sickness and in the hardest moments.” However, the caretaker had to give up the child soon afterwards. She married a Wehrmacht soldier and worried that Estera’s identity would be revealed. She took the girl to a village and placed her with a peasant. She often visited Estera there. Upon realizing that the peasant treated the child badly, Maria took the girl back, and, with the help of her family, hid Estera until the end of the war.

At the same time, Maria’s younger sister also risked exposure. Therefore, Agnieszka Kaniut transferred the child to a wealthy Volksdeutsch family from Cieszyn. The family was unaware of the girl’s Jewish origin.

Lea Spiegel survived the war and found her daughters. In 1947, the three of them immigrated to Israel. They stayed in contact with Agnieszka Kaniut and Maria Kałuża for many years.