Fedecka Maria

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Story of Rescue - Fedecka Maria

Maria Fedecka was born in Moscow in 1904. She grew up in Grodno in a family of intellectuals and where she also studied medicine. Her calling was to morally and financially help people who were being discriminated against socially, economically and politically.

During 1935-1944, she lived in Vilna, together with her husband Stanisław and their children, Haliną, Ziemowit and Barbarą. In Vilna, she mainly helped people from the Left. In Lebioda Wielka (his husband’s family’s peoperty near Lida), she helped the poor peasant population. During the years of Nazi terror in Vilna, 1941–1944, her goal was to save Jews from the Holocaust.

Maria acted without any help from the underground, She funded her activities by selling her own possessions. As much as they could, her husband and children helped her, as did a few of her family and friends, among whom it is worth noting was Wincent Wójcicki. He was a fathful friend who lived with the Fedecki family, whose work at the food co-operative was a principle source of support.

Erna Podhorizer-Sandel, a research worker at the Jewish Historical Institute wrote, ”How many Jews were saved by Maria! Hundreds of people passed through her home, those whom she had extracted from the Vilna ghetto. There was not a night when there were no Jews sleeping at the Fedecki home”.

During 1942-1944 Maria hid Dala, the 12 year old daughter of  Adolf Smilg, at ul.Słowacki in Vilna. She was mainly looked after by Janka Wincel, Maria’s foster child. Dala’s parents were hiding with the Wolski family, also in Vilna.After the War, the Smilg family left for Brazil.

For longer or shorter periods of time, Maria hid Jews, whom she could lead out of Vilna, in the house in Lebioda. They travelled by horse and cart, or ona  truck driven by a bribed German driver.

In July 1941, Stanisław Fedecki Noemi Szylańską (born 1926) from Vilna to Lebioda. She was a friend of his son, Ziemowit. Maria gave her false documents under the name of Krystyna Zaleska. This was possible by bribing a clerk at the Passport Office. Krystyna survived in Lebioda until 1944, left for Italy, and then to the USA.

Róża Chwoles and her 15 year old daughter Anna, also hid in Lebioda. In the autumn of 1941, Maria obtained a pass to enter the ghetto on the pretext of taking back material which she had given to her former dressmaker. She made contact with Róża and gave her papers by which she could leavethe ghetto. Her daughter Anna was already waiting for her on the Aryan side

Maria arranged papers for two women named Chomińska. After a short stay in Lebioda, Stanisław Fedecki took then to the nearby Szejbakpol estate, run by EwaReichel. Róża was introduced as the Russian wife of a Polish officer (she spoke Polish with a heavy Russian accent) and she helped to run the farm. During her stay in Szejbakpol, Fedecki would often ride to them and bring them for short stays in Lebioda. Both survived in Szejbakpol until the Soviet army arrived in 1944. After the War, they left for Belgium.

Zuzanna Szabad and her daughters, Amelia and Irena, also found shelter in the Fedecki property. Maria obtained false papers for them and placed them in Lida, where they hid until the Russians came. After the War, they left for the USA.

Maria also helped hide Aleksander and Emilia Sedlis – the son and daughter-in-law of the well-known gynaecologist, Dr.Ilja Sedlis, who had succeeded in escaping from the Vilna ghetto to the Aryan side in 1941. After a time, Maria placed them with her friends. The younger son of Dr. Ilja Sedlis, Gabriel Sedlis, hid with her in September 1941. In 1943, he joined the partisans. After the War, both brothers left for the USA.

In the autumn of 1942, place gynaecologist Dr Maria Komaj with her sister and brother-in law, Emilia and Wojciech Pogorzelski in Szyrwintice. They survived there as the nanny to their daughter until the Soviet army arrived in 1944.

Erna Podchoritzer-Sandelstates that Maria also helped Wałodz Załkind, Dr. Szadowski and his family, the lawyer Mira Brand, Mrs Kaczergińska and many other people.

After the War, when Maria was asked if she was aware of the danger his activities posed to her and her children, she replied, ”How could I not expose them, when Jewish children were dying all around ”. She died in Warsaw in 1977.

In 1987, Maria Fedecka was posthumously honoured with the title ofRighteous Among the Nations at the initiative Malai and Benek Lasman of Jerusalem. She was also awarded the Lithuanian Life Saviour's Cross in 2003.

In his poem Maria Fedecka, Abraham Sutzkever wrote:

                                                          Let everyone remember her name!

                                                          Her friendship in such a terrible, crazy age.

Bibliography

  • Kac Daniel, Wilno Jerozolimą było – Rzecz o Abrahamie Sutzkeverze, Sejny 2003
  • Grabska E., Biografia Marii Fedeckiej