Dąbrowski Władysław

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Story of Rescue - Dąbrowski Władysław

Before World War II broke out, the Ehrenwert family lived in Żółkiew near Lviv. The father of the family, Salomon (Szlomo) (1889–1942), was a merchant. He and his wife Etel (née Fisch, 1900–1944) had five children – sons: Michał, Dawid Efroim (1919–1944) and Mechel (1925–1944) and daughters: Sabina (Szewa, 1912–1942?) and Sylwia (Szifra). Their elder daughter – Sabina – married Józef Meister. Shortly before the outbreak of the war, she gave birth to a daughter they named Breina (Bronia, 1938–1943). Michał, having graduated from a secondary school, failed to pass the entry exams for the Lviv Polytechnic National University and stayed in Żółkiew together with the rest of his siblings. He made a living for himself by teaching mathematics privately.

After World War II broke out, Żółkiew came under Soviet occupation. Michał went to Lviv and started studying at the Architecture Faculty of the Lviv Polytechnic National University, staying with his relatives at ul. Łukasińskiego. After the Germans attacked the Soviet Union, he failed to flee east. He remained in Lviv and found work with Wirtschaftsinspektion Süd, a German inspectorate which, ever since 1941, managed the economic usage of occupied areas. In August of 1942, after a wave of deportations from Lviv to the death camp in Bełżec, he managed to leave Lviv thanks to the help of his brother Dawid. He reached Mosty Wielkie where his siblings were. There, at a forced labour camp, he worked on constructing a narrow-gauge railway line. Johann Kroupa, the local commanding officer, tried to protect the Jews working for him.

While working there, Dawid came into contact with Władysław Dąbrowski, a man living in Zawonie, a Polish village in the Sokal Poviat, who, from 1940 until April 1944, worked as a narrow-gauge engine driver at the railway line going through the camp for Jews in Sielec-Zawonie. According to what Michał Erens recalled later on, Władysław always had a positive attitude towards his Jewish co-workers.

Dąbrowski promised Dawid his help - he explained to him in detail how to get to his family home.

In the autumn of 1942, right before thousands of Jews were transported away from Żółkiew, the siblings managed to bring their mother to Mosty Wielkie. The father of the family refused to leave their home in Żółkiew and died during the action of 22 November 1942.

Fearing that the Germans intended to kill all Jewish people who stayed in Mosty Wielkie, Dawid, Michał, and Mechel Ehrenwert left the camp. They belonged to a working group headed by Izydor (Izaak) Sager (1905–1944). The group was preparing itself for armed resistance and for organising hiding places in the nearby forests. However, no women were accepted as part of the group at that time and the Ehrenwert family decided to try and hide on their own. Before that, Dawid managed to place their mother in a lumber mill with the family of Janek Lukomski, friends of theirs, and to hide their niece Bronia with a family of poor farmers. Initially, Sabina stayed in the forest with her brothers and sister but she was afterwards hidden in the town of Belz with a woman who lived alone and whom Dawid paid for harbouring his sister. Sabina was denounced and killed. In the autumn of 1943, her daughter Bronia was also denounced and shot by Ukrainian police. In the summer of 1943, the Ehrenwert family joined the Sager’s group. By that time, it counted around 40 people, including women.

In view of the coming winter, Dawid decided to ask Dąbrowski for help and Dąbrowski “came to our rescue without a moment’s hesitation and without any second thoughts, not asking for any reward or a promise of a reward, acting strictly out of humanitarian considerations”. Dąbrowski hid Etel and Mechel at his own house, in a bunker built in the stable. Michał and Sylwia hid with his uncle – Paweł Dąbrowski. Dawid was hidden by another uncle – Izydor – who was already hiding a Jewish doctor under the name of Leon Inslicht and his wife Adela. According to what Dąbrowski wrote in his statement, he looked after Etel and her son Mechel by “buying food for them, preparing meals together with my mother, and taking them to the bunker”.

The village was surrounded by Ukrainian troops on 5 March 1944, destroyed, and set on fire. Michał and Sylwia were the only members of the family who survived. After Soviet troops arrived in August 1944, Michał was recruited to the Soviet Army. He managed to escape from it in the vicinity of Łańcut and joined the Polish army. His sister repatriated herself from Żółkiew.

Władysław Dąbrowski settled in Świdnica after the war. He was visited by Michał in 1948. Michał went to Israel and then to the USA. He graduated from engineering studies after the war. He changed his surname to Erens, set up a family, and found work in New York.

In January 1991, Michael and Władysław renewed their contact. The Yad Vashem Institute awarded the Righteous Among the Nations title to Władysław Dąbrowski on 4 October 1994.

Bibliography

  • Erens Michael, Forest to Freedom. Recollections of my Life in Poland during the Holocaust 1939-1944