Franio Zofia

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Story of Rescue - Franio Zofia

Zofia Franio (1899-1978), who had the pseudonym of Doktór (The Doctor) during the occupation, was a pioneer of the Przysposobienie Wojskowe Kobiet (Female Military Training) movement, Commandant of Kobiece Patrole Minerskie ZWZ-AK (Women’s Mine Patrol) and, during the Warsaw Uprising, was a leader of women-sappers in the Northern City Sapper Command. She was Communications Director of the Freedom and Independence Association. During the Stalinist era, she was imprisoned for political reasons. She was a respected doctor within Warsaw hospitals and clinics and was active in the Polish Red Cross. She was called “Doctor of the Poor”.

During the War, Zofia Franio, on her own initiative, hid Jews and provided them with material support. One of those who benefitted from “The Doctor’s” generosity was Anna Aszkenazy-Wirska, a teacher from Vilnius. She arrived in Warsaw in the autumn of 1941 (she was forced to move as the result of denunciation,). She found shelter in the home of Zofia Franio. The doctor endeavoured to obtain legal documents for her and also helped Anna to find employment.

“The Doctor” tried to obtain information about the fate of the families of those under her care. When it happened that Anna’s family was sent to the Bełżec extermination camp, Zofia decided to go there with Anna to support her at that difficult time. Once there, they discovered that Anna’s mother and sister had already perished, however they managed to locate Anna’s brother whom Zofia also took under her care. When hiding the Jews became too dangerous, “The Doctor” found them alternative accommodation. Thanks to Zofia Franio’s help, Anna and her brother survived the occupation. After the War, Anna settled in London.

In November 1942, Anna Weinstock–Janczura also found shelter in the home of Zofia Franio. Anna had come to the capital from Lwów. “The Doctor” took her in, obtained false papers for her and found her work as domestic help. Because Anna had no experience, the job put her in danger. As a result of any employer dissatisfaction, she could have also have endangered “The Doctor”.

Apart from providing the necessities of life, “The Doctor” also provided moral support for those under her care. Anna Weinstock-Janczura recalls, “Anyone who didn’t experience the country’s occupation doesn’t know what it means to someone to get a word of comfort, of the truth about a better future […] I don’t know how to thank her enough for what she did for me”.

During the occupation, Zofia Franio led the Warsaw branch of the Kierownictwo Dywersji (underground movement of the AK - home army). As part of her activities, she was involved in helping the Żydowska Organizacja Bojowa (Jewish Fighting Organisation) in the ghetto and conducted smuggling operations. On her orders, the Kobiece Patrole Minerskie threw weapons, ammunition and incendiary materials over the ghetto wall. The main smuggling point was at Krakowskie Przedmieście 4.

Zofia Franio was also involved in child and medical care for Żegota, helping Jews hidden on the Aryan side. She helped Dr Eleonora Reicher and her nephew, Piotr Karniol.

On 18th April 1978, in the offices of the Society of Fighters for Freedom and Democracy (Związek Bojowników o Wolność i Demokrację), Zofia Franio was awarded the Righteous Among the Nations medal. It was awarded on the evidence of Anna Aszkenazy-Wirska. Anna Weinstock-Janczura also told her story to the Yad Vashem Institute. Zofia Franio was extremely moved and surprised by this recognition.

Other Stories of Rescue in the Area

Bibliography

  • Grynberg Michał, Księga Sprawiedliwych, Warszawa 1993

    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.

  • 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.
  • Arczyński Marek, Balcerak Wiesław, Kryptonim "Żegota". Z dziejów pomocy Żydom w Polsce 1939-1945, Warszawa 1983