The Debski Family

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Story of Rescue - The Debski Family

Zygmunt Dębski lived in Lvov at 24 Rybacka Street and studied at the Lvov University of Technology. Dawid (Duczek) Akselbrad lived with his younger brother Artur (1929-1942) with their uncle, Herman Akselbrad (1874-1943), and his wife, Berta (1879-1943). After the death of the boys' mother, Anna Flora (Hana Bluma) nee Merrer in 1934, the Akselbrads adopted Dawid and Artur.

At the beginning of the German occupation of Lvov, Dębski met Duczek through Irena Cielecka (1915-1967) who was engaged in the underground activity. The young men became friends. Duczek escaped from the Lvov ghetto, but did not managed to get through to Hungary. Through Cielecka, he got engaged in the underground activity in the Home Army, using the name Leopold Kucharski. He lived in Lvov in Cielecka's place at 41 Kochanowskiego Street, in Dębski's place and with Professor Emil Erlich in Borysław. He was involved in the preparation of false documents. As his German language skills were excellent, he was also a liaison officer between Warsaw and Lvov, he transported weapons. He helped hiding Jews, among others, his friend Ignacy Kriegl.

As Dębski reported, he accompanied Duczek during his journeys to Jarosław, where they visited in the ghetto the family of Dr. Zilberstein, a former director of the PKO bank in Lvov , providing food. They also led Duczek's grandfather and his family from Gródek Jagielloński, took them to Lvov and hid there. He also took a Jewish couple from Lvov to Borysław.

Irena Cielecka's mother, Helena nee Szenker, was a Jew. With the help of his acquaintances, Dębski removed the page concerning her family form the registration book. After changing the birth certificate to the name "Szumbara", he arranged three apartments in Lvov.

After the Soviet Army came marched into Lvov in the summer 1944, Duczek was arrested together with other members of the Home Army unit and sentenced to 10 years of prison. He was sent to a gold mine in Siberia, where he worked in a team of electricians and other craftsmen. He came back to Poland as a result of the amnesty after Stalin's death in 1953. Dębski wrote bitterly in his statement: "We survived the terrible Nazi ordeal, we were arrested a few times, the Home Army squads rescued us and, when peace and joy was expected to come, my friend was arrested, taken away, destroyed morally, physically and mentally."

In 1946, Dębski and Cielecka moved from Lwow to Gliwice with her mother and brother Bolesław. They got married there and brought up two children. Irena was a judge at the district court in Gliwice. Her mother died in 1947, whilst her brother in 1982.

Duczek stayed with them before his departure to Israel, where he found his father, Herman Zwi Czaczkes. In Israel, he married Rina nee Sheinberg, who also survived the Holocaust. They had seven children. The contact broke off after Dębska's death but Dębski contacted Duczek again in 1987.

In 1988, the Yad Vashem Institute awarded him the title of the Righteous Among the Nations.


  • Grynberg Michał, Księga Sprawiedliwych

    The lexicon includes the stories of Poles honoured with the title of Righteous Among the Nations in the years 1963-1989. The list of entries is preceded by a preface by Icchak Arad and Chaim CheferThe Righteous of the World.

  • Archiwum Żydowskiego Instytutu Historycznego, 349, 1088