The Gramsch Family

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Story of Rescue - The Gramsch Family

Before the War, the Gramsch family lived on a Przybyłów property, not far from Ciężkowice in the Tarnowski Dirstrict. Maria Gramsch came from a family of Polish intellectuals, while Franciszek, who had become an officer in the Austrian army, ran the farm until his death in 1932.

When the Gramsch’s only daughter, Maria, began going to school, she stayed in lodgings with Ludwika Kochlöffel in Ciężkowice. There, she met Ludwika’s niece, Irena Kochlöffel  and her mother Julia (nee Wajsberg). Julia Kochlöffel’s father, Tadeusz (Tobiasz) Wajsberg, who came from a Jewish family, was a land owner and community worker. Before the War, his daughter had completed her studies at the Lubelski Catholic University in Lublin and had married a Ciężkowice doctor, Rudolf Stanisław Kochlöffel. As a doctor, Rudolf had already been mobilised before the outbreak of World War II. He died in Katyn in 1940.

In searching for a secure shelter, Julia and Irena came to Ciężkowice and stayed with Rudolf’s family. Due to an increased level of persecution of Jews in that small town, probably in the summer of 1942, Julia turned to Maria Gramsch for help and shelter in Przybyłów. Maria and her mother agreed to help.  

In the autumn of 1943, as the result of information provided to them, the Germans came to Przybyłów looking for the hidden women. With the help of Odsłoń, a Polish policeman in love with a relative of the Kochlöffels’, the arrival of the Gestapo was delayed which enabled Julia and Irena to escape to Ciężkowice, to distant relatives of her father.

When the daughter of a neighbour recognised Irena, the women were forced to find a new hiding-place. Under difficult conditions, they hid themselves in suburban Ostrusz, also with relatives of her father. They survived until liberation in January 1945, at which time, they returned to Lublin.

Julia and Irena changed their surname to ”Karczewski”. Irena completed her dentistry studies in Łódż and lives in Lublin. Maria Gramsch’s daughter, Maria Gramsch-Mikoś, remained on the property, married and raised seven daughters.

Thank to the efforts of Irena Karczewska, Maria Gramsch (posthumously) and Maria Mikoś were granted the title of ”Righteous Among the Nations” in 2005.

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Bibliography

  • Irena Karczewska, Zespół Szkół w Kalinówce
  • Gutman Israel red. nacz., Księga Sprawiedliwych wśród Narodów Świata, Ratujący Żydów podczas Holocaustu, Kraków 2009
  • Monika Stec, Interview with Maria Mikoś-Gramsch, 7.10.2010
  • Archiwum Żydowskiego Instytutu Historycznego, 349, 2646