Duracz Jerzy

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Story of Rescue - Duracz Jerzy

Jerzy Duracz was born in 1921 (or 1923). He lived in Warsaw He was a son of Teodor Duracz, a prominent communist with ties to Soviet intelligence services who ran a lawyer’s office and took part in numerous legal proceedings as a counsel for the defence of people charged with acting for the benefit of Soviet Russia and communism. Jerzy was in touch with left wing political movements ever since he was a young man. During the Nazi occupation, he became involved in civil and armed resistance activity. He was a member of the People’s Guard (Gwardia Ludowa, GL), the armed forces of Polish Workers’ Party.

While active in GL, he met several Jewish activists with whom he made friends. He carried out various sabotage operations against the German occupant together with Niuta Tajtelbaum. He also actively took part in aiding Jews who stayed outside of the ghetto and were trying to survive the occupation outside of it. Many such people knew him, made use of his assistance, and recommended him to other people in need.

In mid-April 1943, Duracz came into contact with Izrael and Natan Mączkowski (or Maczkowski), two Jewish brothers who made it out of the ghetto. He convinced the fugitives, who were mentally and physically exhausted, not to voluntarily report themselves back to the Germans so that they could transport them to the camp in Trawniki. They harboured a forlorn hope that the place was not a death camp. He placed them in an apartment at ul. Wiśniowa 25 where three other people were already staying: the wife of Jehuda Feldwurm, a writer and a publicist, and her two daughters. He visited the place several times a week to bring them all food and news.

“The apartment was locked with a padlock from the outside to make it look like there was no one inside and Jerzy Duracz had to handle all matters connected with caring for the five of us, separated from the outside world. He provided us with food and told us what we needed to know about the world. He slept in the apartment with us many times, sharing our fate in a way, in order to bolster our spirits,” the saved Natan wrote after many years. In August 1943, Jerzy took a shot to a leg and could not come to them for some time. “Fainting on his way, he did come in the end...”, Natan recalls.

After a neighbour learned about the secret of the apartment, Jerzy managed to arrange transport for the brothers in December 1943 so that they could join Jewish guerilla fighters in the nearby forests (lasy parczewskie).

He did not stand idly by as the ghetto was being liquidated and as Jews fought against the Germans in the spring of 1943. He also took part in an action against the Germans organised next to the walls of the ghetto. On 20 April 1943, he took part in the destruction of a German machine gun post which was firing at the ghetto from the side of ul. Nowiniarska. The operation was successful.

He helped Jewish people selflessly. He risked his life many times in the process. After the war, he married an underground activist of Jewish origin and, as her husband, left the communist Poland for Israel in 1971. A year afterwards, the Yad Vashem Institute awarded him with the Righteous Among the Nations title.

Other Stories of Rescue in the Area

Bibliography

  • Bartoszewski Władysław, Lewinówna Zofia, Ten jest z ojczyzny mojej, Warszawa 2007
    This publication consists of 3 parts: monographic outline of the issue of aid given to the Jews; collection of German and Polish documents concerning the histories of Jews and the aid given to them; collection of the post-war reports created by Poles and Jews about the aid.
  • Archiwum Żydowskiego Instytutu Historycznego, 349/24, 2038
  • Gutman Israel red. nacz., Księga Sprawiedliwych wśród Narodów Świata, Ratujący Żydów podczas Holocaustu, Kraków 2009