Bogdanska Janina

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Story of Rescue - Bogdanska Janina

Janina Bogdańska lived with her husband Ludwik and son Tadeusz on ul. Potocka 4 (4 Potocka Street) in the Marymont neighborhood, Warszawa. In 1935, Ludwik Bogdański, the owner of a transport company, found in his stable a sleeping, ill and emaciated Jewish boy, twelve-year-old Herszek, the son of a homeless bagel seller from the Stare Miasto (Old Town). The Bogdańskis decided to keep the child and raise it. The boy’s mother died in 1937.

Herszek was to some extent a member of the Bogdański family when World War II broke out and the Germans started persecuting Jews. “I was trying to do everything during the Nazi occupation so as not to let Herszek end up in the ghetto,” Janina Bogdańska recalls in her account deposited in the Archives of the Jewish Historical Institute. Mrs. Bogdańksa spoke about her problems with priest Truszyński from the Królowa Korony Polskiej (The Queen of Polish Crown) church on ul. Gdańska (Gdańska Street). In November 1940, the priest baptized the boy and issued him a certificate on the name Henryk Wichrowski.

In 1943, as a result of the denunciation made by a neighbor, the Germans came to search the Bogdańskis’ apartment. “Everybody in Marymont knew that I had been keeping and raising a Jewish child. Only one, the only person informed on us to the German authorities. (…) After the denunciation, the German gendarmerie came to us, but, after the intercession of Barbara Rutkowska, who accepted the Deutsche Volksliste (German People’s List) and was an activist of the ZNMS [Independent Socialist Youth Union – editor’s note], the gendarmerie gave up searching for the boy hidden in our place.” – she recalls in the account deposited in the Archives of the Jewish Historical Institute.

Irena Bobińska-Skotnicka, a neighbor and a friend of Janina’s daughter – Jadwiga Maldis, an activist in the PPS (Polish Socialist Party) involved in the underground movement; during the war worked in the Arbeitsamt [job center]. Thanks to her help, in the fall of 1943, Herszek went to Germany, where – unrecognized – worked on a farm until the end of the war. He returned to his foster family in 1947.

From May 1943 on, Janina Bogdańska helped Irena and Aleksander Skotnicki, a Jewish fighter, who found a shelter in her place after the collapse of the Ghetto Uprising. He came to stay in Irena’s place on ul. Potocka 6 (6 Potocka Street) thanks to his sister Hanna Skotnicka. Bogdańska would bring him food. Aleksander and Irena married after the war. They moved to Gdańsk where Aleksander testified against Jurgen Stroop, the man responsible for the bloody suppression of the Ghetto Uprising. In the end, the married couple settled down in Australia.

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