Hryniewicz Beata and Jozwikowska Stanislawa

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Story of Rescue - Hryniewicz Beata and Jozwikowska Stanislawa

During the War, Beata Bronisława Hryniewicz, was the Mother Superior of the House of the Heart of Jesus in Skórzec, not far from Siedlce. Together with her assembly of sisters, she hid 11 year old Estera and her 5 year old sister Batia in the convent. She was the one who, in the main, took care of the Jewish girls, with the help of Sister Stanisława Jóźwikowska.

In the summer of 1942, Estera and Batia escaped from the Warsaw ghetto and managed to get to the Kałuszyn ghetto, joining their brother Janek and sisters Halina and Regina there. In December 1942, shortly before the deportation operation of the remaining Jews to Treblinka, the siblings attempted to escape. However, Janek and Halina were murdered in front of Batia. Regina, who had a ”good appearance”, found work on a local farm. Crossing fields, Estera and Batia reached Skórzec where, as Christian orphans, they came under the care of an elderly, extremely poor couple. Despite wanting to continue caring for them, the couple could not afford to feed the sisters for very long.

One day, Sister Beata Hryniewicz came upon an unknown, neglected girl at the municipal offices. She ordered that the girl be taken to the convent. When Batia mentioned her sister Estera, the Sister decided that she too could find shelter with the nuns.

Only the Mother Superior and Sisters Stanisława and Apolonia Kret knew of the sisters’ origins. As Sister Apolonia recalled in an interview, ”When Basia was brought to us, her appearance brought us to tears. She looked horrible. She had lice everywhere and her body was covered in scabies. She had sores on her back, chest and legs. The first thing to do with the poor nine year old child was to give her a bath and then cut her hair. I bathed her every day, applied ointment and changed her sheets. Yet there were still lice. It took three weeks for her to recover”.

The sisters studied in the convent school. When Basia reached the appropriate age for the sacrament of the First Communion, the Sister asked her, ”Basia, do you understand what I’m explaining to you – that if a person is not baptised, they cannot receive any other sacrament?” She replied that she understood. ”She never revealed that she was Jewish and the Holy Communion ceremony took place in the chapel”, recalls Sister Apolonia Kret.

”Prior to Easter, Mother Superior went to Warsaw to look for a birth certificate or baptismal record. No one had heard of the girl there. She had claimed that her parents came from Wawrzyszew. So Mother Superior then went there. Unfortunately, she found nothing there also. Upon her return to Skórzec, we talked about it, Surely, somewhere in Poland, there has to be a document confirming the girl’s existence. We asked her directly, ‘Tell us, are you an Israelite?’ Basia hugged me and admitted that they were Jews. I then said to her, ‘Basia, why didn’t you tell us this earlier when we asked you prior to preparing you for communion?’, to which she replied that, ‘Jadzia (Estera) said that if we admit that, then we would be killed’”. Despite this, the girls remained in the convent and, soon after, were baptised.

After liberation, Estera and Bata were collected by the Jewish Committee which enabled their emigration to Israel

Bibliography

  • Gutman Israel red. nacz., Księga Sprawiedliwych wśród Narodów Świata, Ratujący Żydów podczas Holocaustu, Kraków 2009