The Gniatkowski Family

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Story of Rescue - The Gniatkowski Family

Before the war, the Gniatkowski family lived in the village of Zdanie, the commune of Dobroszyce, near Radomsko. Wincenty Gniatkowski’s wife orphaned seven children. “The Gniatkowski family was very poor and very honest. Their treasure were their noble hearts”, Alberto Kesselman, who was saved by the Gniatkowskis, wrote about them in 1995. Before the war, Alberto’s perents - Abraham Mojżesz (Awrohom Mojsze) and Necha, lived at 2 Dobroszycka Street. They were engaged in trade and brought up seven children

During World War II, the Kesselmans found themselves in the ghetto in Radomsko, whose establishing was announced as early as in December 1939. In October 1942, most Jews from the ghetto were deported by Germans to the extermination camp in Treblinka. Only a few Jews were allowed to stay in the ghetto.. In November 1942, the formation of another ghetto was announced where, unfortunately, some Jews, who had been hiding in nearby forests, came to live. That ghetto was liquidated in January 1943 and the Jews were murdered on the spot or in Treblinka.

The Kesselman family hid in forests for over two years, that is, probably since autumn 1942. The main organizer of hiding was the son Herszl (Henryk) Kesselman. In September 1943, the family found shelter with the poor Gniatkowski family who lived at the edge of the village.

Abram Mojżesz, Necha and their children: Celina, Dwora, Herszl, Jidl and Eliahu were first hidden in the attic. However, after Germans came to the Gniatkowskis house, battered the family and threatened with death for potential sheltering of Jews, the family arranged a small bunker near the house. The Gniatkowskis provided them with food, sharing with them everything they had.

Abraham Mojżesz Kesselman died in the bunker on 17 July 1944 as a result of tremendous stress caused by the search of the farm by the Germans. Wincenty Gniatkowski destroyed the chest of the cart which he used for transporting potatoes so that Kesselman would have a decent burial in the forest.

The mother and the children remained in Gniatkowski’s place until the liberation in January 1945. Later, the family returned to Radomsko. On the death anniversary of the husband and the father, on 17 July 1945, Nacha and her daughter Dwora were shot at home by armed attackers.

Other children of the Kesselmans left Poland: Celina (Etka?), Jidl and Eliahu (Alberto) went to Argentina, whilst Herszl - to France.

Różka (Chaja Ruchla) (1918-1943?) married Izrael (Izia) Ichak Wrzonski (1918-1942?) in Łódź. According to Rachel Lea Kesselman – her niece - she died in Warsaw, perhaps after coming to Hotel Polski.

 “They did all those and much more with all their heart and never asked us for anything. It was a genuine example of nobleness”, Alberto wrote in his letter of 1995.

In 1997, the Yad Vashem Institute granted Wincenty Gniatkowski the title of Righteous Among the Nations.


  • Archiwum Żydowskiego Instytutu Historycznego, 349, 2182