The Ferens Family

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A Story of Rescue - the Ferens Family

From 1937, the Ferens couple, and the son Jerzy, lived in Częstochowa. Tadeusz worked as a gynaecologist, while Wanda looked after the home and their child. After the outbreak of World War II, they separated and left their home town, fleeing from the Germans. Jerzy explains that "within three days, my father commanded an army hospital somewhere in the south of Poland. My mother, with me and her family, fled in horse-drawn carts. We all met up in Lwów”. After a certain time, and having experienced Soviet occupation, the Ferens family returned to Częstochowa. Tadeusz worked in the local hospital and also conducted a private medical practice.

As a doctor, Tadeusz knew many of the Częstochowa residents. In 1942, one of his pre-War friends and patients, Rut Asz (whom Jerzy calls "Justa), the daughter of Częstochowa Chief Rabbi Nachum Asz, asked him for help to reach the "Aryan side". Jerzy Ferens recalls, "She came to my father asked him to save her. [...] Szymon, her husband, did not agree because, as he claimed, he was a well-known lawyer so that the Germans wouldn't kill him. However, Justa decided to save herself and her little daughter, who had been thrown over the ghetto wall during the night”.

In the autumn of 1942, when Rut decided to escape from the Częstochowa ghetto, her little girl was two years old. The child was most probably taken out in a rubbish sack. Tadeusz, taking advantage of his position and contacts, placed her into a Polish orphanage run by Ursuline sisters on ul. Jasnogórska.The little girl was baptised and given the name "Elżbieta". Not long after, she was adopted by Wiktoria and Marian Urbańczyk. The couple were not aware that this child was Jewish. They discovered that fact when her blonde hair grew a raven-black colour. However, they did not return her and the little girl remained with them until the end of the War.

Tadeusz Ferens provided Rut (Justa) with Aryan papers under the name " Zielińska", thanks to which she could leave Poland for work in Austria. From there, she managed to reach Switzerland where she remained until the end of the War.

Tadeusz and Wanda Ferens also helped Dr. Stefania Zarecka and her husband when, in 1942, they escaped from the Częstochowa ghetto. For the first few days, the couple hid in the Ferens home, after which they were relocated to the hospital. However, they were not safe in Częstochowa where they were known to many people. The Ferens couple found them shelter in Warsaw, in the home of Wanda's sister, Irena Pawłowska.

Tadeusz also helped to treat many Jews who were in hiding. For example, he operated on teenager Bronisław Rozenowicz, saving his life. Rozenowicz was in hiding following the liquidation of the Częstochowa ghetto. He also performed operations which reversed the effects of circumcision. Jerzy Ferens recalls, "My father performed many circumcision reversal operations. He did them so well that even Gestapo experts never caught on”.

However, the details and scale of Jerzy's activities were not well known. During the occupation, he was too young for attention to be drawn to him. Jerzy stresses, "During the War, my father never took me into his confidence. He, himself, wanted to forget about it as quickly as possible. Even after the War, he never really recalled anything".

After the end of the War, Rut Asz returned to Poland. With the help of Dr.Ferens, she reclaimed her daughter in 1946. The Urbańczyk couple did not want to return their adopted daughter and even she did not remember her mother. However, over time, Elżbieta returned to her mother and they left together for Palestine. For a few years, she returned to Poland with her second husband. They then left for Venezuela. They did not maintain contact with the Ferens family.

In 1968, Stefania Zarecka left for New York and maintained correspondence contact with the Ferens couple and their son. 

Bibliography

  • Klara Jackl, The interview with Andrzej Urbańczyk, 16.01.2015
  • Gutman Israel red. nacz., Księga Sprawiedliwych wśród Narodów Świata, Ratujący Żydów podczas Holocaustu, Kraków 2009
  • Anna Czyżewska, Interview with Jerzy Ferens, Warszawa 6.03.2009
  • Archiwum Żydowskiego Instytutu Historycznego, dział dokumentacji odznaczeń Yad Vashem, sprawa Wandy i Tadeusza Ferensów., 349/24, 3014