The Babinski Family

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Story of Rescue - The Babinski Family

Before the World War II, Zofia Karolina Babińska – a widow of Edward Babiński, an advocate – brought up by herself two adolescent daughters, Danuta and Krystyna. She ran a boarding house at 18 Bracka Street in Warsaw.

As survivor Alina Prądzyńska (maiden name Wolman) writes, they used the boarding house to ‘provide shelter and help not only to their friends – Jews, but to anyone who asked for it. Their house was a point of moral support, where one could breathe with the atmosphere of friendship, heartiness and open, honest conversation. It was an important thing in those horrible times’.

They provided accommodation, food and financial support in the form of so-called loans, which they did not ask to pay back. Documents confirm help they gave to the Wolman family and to Hanna Landau. They also helped Melania Przepiórko and their neighbors, Mrs. Goldberg and her son. Those three did not survive the World War II.

Janina and Julian Wolman had two children, Alina and Wacław. Before the World War II, they lived at 5/18 Szpitalna Street. In 1940, when the ghetto was set up, Janina, Julian and Wacław found themselves at 52 Twarda Street. The teenage Babińska sisters brought them food packages. In summer 1942, before The Great Displacement started, they helped the Wolmans go to the ‘Aryan side’ through the buildings of the Courts at Leszno Street.

Alina Wolman, who had false documents under the name Kowalska, was not sent to the ghetto. She hid on the ‘Aryan side’. For the last two years of the occupation, she lived at 44 Pańska Street. Krystyna Kościałkowska recalls her as a very emancipated young woman who drove a car even during the War.

Throughout the whole time when she was in hiding, she could count on the support of the Babińska sisters. This is what she says about it: ‘I was a frequent guest in the Babińska sisters’ house and when I came, I was not asked whether I was hungry. They simply set the table. They knew I lived in difficult conditions. (…) In spite of repeated controls, unregistered people who had escaped from the ghetto and had no documents were always staying over at Mrs. Babińska’s place. I was there two times, unregistered, during a Nazi control and Krystyna Babińska hid me in her room risking her own life’.

Hanna Landau who used false documents under the name Kozłowska during the War, also sought shelter in Zofia Babińska’s boarding house. She told The Jewish Historical Institute: ‘Despite the fact that their house was often controlled due to the fact that they ran a boarding house, they always took me in heartily and without hesitation. Usually I slept in the room of Mrs. Zofia’s daughter, Krystyna, which put them in a greater risk than if I slept in another room’.

Krystyna Kościałkowska recalls that ‘her stays in our house lasted for weeks. (…) We sent food packages to her mother who was in Pawiak and later in the ghetto. Hanna ate with us and we helped her financially’.

Krystyna Kościałkowska and her mother also helped Mrs. Goldberg and her 7-year-old son. ‘They were our neighbors – we read in her account of the events – and their flat was in the same staircase, opposite ours. Mrs. Goldberg, in spite of my promises that I would get them false documents, was afraid and went to the ghetto. We helped her then just as we helped the others but she died during the liquidation of the ghetto’.

Before the Warsaw Uprising broke out, an old lady, Melania Przepiórko, lived in the Babińska’s boarding house. She was over seventy years old. ‘She was a person who looked very Semitic and nobody wanted to take her in. Her friend, Mrs. Dalborowa encouraged my mother saying that she could pay a lot as she had money and jewelry. In spite of that, my mother said that she did not want to exploit the situation and that Mrs. Przepiórko would pay the same amount as every other person living in the house’. Mrs. Melania was shot dead during the Uprising.

Also Zofia Babińskia’s older daughter, Danuta, died at that time.
 
After the War

Hanna Landau (married name Wodzińska) and the Wolmans survived the War. Alina married Mr. Prądzyński and lived in Warsaw.

Zofia Babińska ran the boarding house till 1949. Krystyna got married and assumed the name Kościałkowska. She had a son, Piotr, in 1953. She worked as a clerk till 1977. She still lives in a tenement house at 18 Bracka Street, in the part she describes as the ‘pre-war kitchen’.

In 1985, Krystyna Kościałkowska received the medal and the diploma of the Righteous Among the Nations on behalf of her own, her mother and her sister, Danuta.

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Bibliography

  • Archiwum Żydowskiego Instytutu Historycznego, 349, 336
  • Czyżewska Anna, Interview with Krystyna Kościałkowska, 1.01.2009
  • Gutman Israel red. nacz., Księga Sprawiedliwych wśród Narodów Świata, Ratujący Żydów podczas Holocaustu, Kraków 2009