The Bolt Family

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Story of Rescue - The Bolt Family

Before World War II, Zbigniew Bolt, born in 1925, lived in Koszyce. His father worked there as a doctor. The city was inhabited by many Jews. In November 1942, Zbigniew met his friend Irena Landesdorfer and her mother Regina near the railway tracks. The women had come from Cracow, from where they had departed before the Cracow ghetto was created in 1940. They settled in Koszyce. During the liquidation of the ghetto, they tried to hide in one of the neighboring villages. Nevertheless, after a few days of hiding, they gave up hope for rescue and decided to return to Koszyce.

However, Zbigniew Bolt dissuaded them from this intention. Together with both women, he returned to a housekeeper lady who had been hiding them so far and requested that she hide the Jews for a few days longer. In this way he earned some time to organize a new shelter for the fugitives. He did not think it necessary to tell his parents or a sister that he was helping the Jews. He organized a cart for the women to transport them to Rabka and then to Maków Podhalański. In the end, they all arrived in the village of Kalembina, where they stayed in the apartment rented by Zbigniew’s uncle named Stanisław Kwieciński. As Stanisław worked in the administrative office of the county in nearby Strzyżowo, he was able to procure a Kennkarte (an identification card in use during the Third Reich era) for Irena. Her mother had already had the proper “Aryan papers”.

Bolt’s relative agreed to help them to rent an apartment in one of the villages. However, soon the local inhabitants became suspicious about the newcomers and their true identities. To dispel these fears, Regina decided to leave for Germany to work in forced labor, while Irena returned to Kwieciński. But the danger was not over yet. One day, Irena was arrested by the Navy-Blue Police (the collaborationist police in General Government) and put behind bars for a few days. Luckily, she “passed the exam” on the catechism of the Catholic Church (to prove that she was not a Jew).

After this incident, she asked a local parson for help. He confirmed to the police her identity and the fact that he was acquainted with her parents. There was also another helpful priest from a neighboring parish, from where Irena received a false birth certificate. The priest had been informed about the whole situation by a Home Army member, who was also a friend of Bolt. The cleric promised to keep the secret in case of any danger.  In this way Irena lived to see the liberation at the beginning of 1945. Soon, she was joined by her mother in Cracow. In 1946, they both departed for the USA, where they settled permanently. It was not before the 1980s that they visited Poland for the first time since their departure.

Zbigniew Bolt was a Home Army soldier serving in Miechów Inspectorate. When World War II ended, he revealed his true identity. In 1951, he graduated from medical studies in Cracow and worked as a doctor in Koszyce.

Other Stories of Rescue in the Area

Bibliography

  • Justyna Kutrzeba, Interview with Zbigniew Bolt, 28.11.2010