The Brzozowicz Family

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Story of Rescue - The Brzozowicz Family

During the war, Antonina Brzozowicz and her two daughters, Maria and Olga, lived in Lviv. From autumn 1941 until the end of the war, they hid in their apartment three Jews, their pre-war neighbours: Elżbieta Karniol and her children, Stanisława and Jan Pastor.

Elżbieta’s first husband, Arnold Pastor, an appointed agent in a bank in Drohobych, died in 1935. She then married Eugeniusz Karniol and moved with her family to Sarny in Wołyń. There she made the acquaintance of the Brzozowicz family. The daughters from both families, Stasia and Marysia, were classmates and became friends. In 1938 Eugeniusz Karniol was called up for military service.

Before the war Bolesław, Antonina Brzozowicz’s husband, worked in rail as a stationmaster. When the Soviet army marched in, he was arrested and transported deep into the Russian territory, from where he never came back. Antonina Brzozowicz was tipped off by a friend railwayman – in this way she avoided the deportation and, together with her daughters, escaped to Lviv to her husband’s family. She settled at 15 Żeromskiego Street. In spring 1940 Elżbieta Karniol also moved to Lviv. She and her children stayed with her parents: Herman and Henrietta Weinstein.

The German army invaded Lviv in summer 1941, and soon the Wensteins were put in the ghetto by the occupant, where Herman died. Luckily, Elżbieta Karniol was able to rent a flat on “the Aryan side” of the city. Thanks to her second daughter, Paulina, Henrietta got out of the ghetto and hid with the acquaintances in Drohobych, where she died from pneumonia.

In October 1941 the owner of the flat, where Elżbieta lived, gave her notice. When that happened, Elżbieta’s daughter Stanisława turned to her schoolmate, Maria Brzozowicz, for help. Thanks to her mediation, Antonina Brozowicz agreed to accommodate the Jewish friends, who had nowhere to live. “I met Stasia once, when they threw them out – recollects Maria Brzozowicz in her interview for the Museum of the History of Polish Jews. – They threw them out simply because they lived there, and they threw them out of the door. And then Stacha came to me, Stasiunia, and she asked whether they could stay with us.”

Due to the fact that at nights Elżbieta Karniol would go out into the streets with her children, the neighbours were aware that there were Jews living in the building. They were afraid that the Germans would execute all of the tenants when they learnt about it, and so many times they asked the manager of the tenement house to force the family to leave the building. Luckily, the manager favoured the fugitives. However, the constabularies often visited the flat – Elżbieta Pastor had to bribe them with money and jewellery. Although the financial resources quickly ran out, Antonina Brzozowicz continued to hide the Jewish family until the liberation time.

After the war, the Brzozowiczs left for Przemyśl, where their relatives lived. Elżbieta Karniol and her children moved to Wrocław. In 1946 her husband returned from the front. They family did not leave the country: Jan Pastor became a researcher, while Stanisława – a psychiatrist. She have married and have two daughters.

Today, Maria Brzozowicz lives in Kraków. Until her retirement she worked in the commercial department of the Cracow Centre of Building Materials. Stanisława and Maria are still friends.