The Jakubowski Family

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Story of Rescue - The Jakubowski Family

Helena Depa lived with her parents, her husband, and her younger brother in Lviv. Her father was a tram driver, and her mother was a housewife. In 1939 Helena graduated from a vocational sewing school, and after the war broke out, she used the trade to earn some money on the side.         

In September 1942, Maria Wojtyszyn, Helena’s cousin, asked the Jakubowskis to hide nine-year-old Rena Akselrad, a friend’s daughter. Rena’s younger sister, six-year-old Janina, was taken in by Maria herself. Rena’s father had died soon after the Germans entered Lviv, while her mother, stuck in the ghetto, had managed to arrange a hiding place for her children on the Aryan side and died shortly thereafter.        

Initially, Rena was not kept in hiding. She would go to church with the Jakubowskis, introduced as their cousin. When the persecution of Jews escalated, she stopped leaving the house and had to hide in the attic if any visitors came to the house. The neighbour from across the street informed the Germans that there was an ‘extra’ child staying with the Jakubowskis. Luckily, during the inspection the police did not think to search the attic.

After the Russian army entered the city, Helena’s parents placed Rena in a newly-formed orphanage for Jewish children. Several years later, invited by her aunt, Rena left for Israel. She married there, found job as an accountant, and raised three daughters and a son. Two years before she died, she managed to meet Helena Depa and her husband, Kazimierz, again, and invited the couple to visit Israel. She died in the autumn of 1997.

Bibliography

  • Maria Mancewicz-Jakubowska, Nieopublikowane wspomnienia
  • Andrzejewska Monika, Interview with Helena Depa, 6.04.2009
  • Gutman Israel red. nacz., Księga Sprawiedliwych wśród Narodów Świata, Ratujący Żydów podczas Holocaustu, Kraków 2009