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 Wilno, together with her husband Stanisław and their children, Haliną, Ziemowit and Barbarą.
In Wilno, she mainly helped people from the left. In Lebioda Wielka (her husband’s family’s property near Lida), she helped the poor peasant population. During the years of Nazi terror in Wilno, 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 faithful friend, who lived with the Fedecki family, whose work at the food co-operative was a main source of support.
Erna Podhorizer-Sandel, a researcher at the Jewish Historical Institute wrote, ”How many Jews were saved thanks to Maria! Hundreds of people passed through her home, those whom she had extracted from the Wilno ghetto. There was not a night when there were no Jews sleeping in the Fedecki home”.
During 1942-1944, Maria hid Dala, the twelve-year-old daughter of Adolf Smilg, on ul.Słowacki in Wilno. She was mainly looked after by Janka Wincel, Maria’s foster child. Dala’s parents were hiding with the Wolski family, also in Wilno. After the War, the Smilg family left for Brazil.
For longer or shorter periods of time, in the house in Lebioda, Maria hid Jews, whom she could lead out of Wilno . They travelled by horse and cart, or on a truck, driven by a bribed German driver.
In July 1941, Stanisław Fedecki brought Noemi Szylańska (born 1926), a friend of their son Ziemowit, from Wilno to Lebioda. Maria obtained documents for her under the name "Krystyna Zalesk"a. This was made possible by a Passport Office official, whom she bribed. Krystyna lived in Lebioda until 1944, after which she went to Italy and then to the USA.
Róża Chwoles and her fifteen-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 returning material which she had given to her former dressmaker. She made contact with Róża and gave her papers, with which she could leave the 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 them to the nearby Szejbakpol estate, run by Ewa Reichel. 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, to 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 Wilno 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, placed gynaecologist Dr Maria Komaj with her sister and brother-in law, Emilia and Wojciech Pogorzelski in Szyrwintice. There, they survived as the nanny to their daughter until the Soviet army arrived in 1944.
Erna Podchoritzer-Sandel states 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 her 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 of "Righteous Among the Nations" at the initiative Mala 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 of hatred.
Other Stories of Rescue in the Area
- Ostreyko Jordana
- Roszak Cecylia
- Adamek Malgorzata
- Frackiewicz Helena Diana
- Bednarska Stefania
- Borkowska Anna
- Neugebauer Imelda
- The Sukiennicki Family
- Babilinska Gertruda
- Fedecka Maria
- Butkiewicz Stanislawa
- The Czezowski Family
- The Antonowicz Family
- Dambrowska Stefania
- Michejda Kornel
- Paszkowscy Family
- The Paszkowski Family
- Kac Daniel, Wilno Jerozolimą było – Rzecz o Abrahamie Sutzkeverze
- Grabska E., Biografia Marii Fedeckiej