The Jaworski family

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Story of Rescue - The Jaworski family

Before World War II, Katarzyna and Eugeniusz Jaworski lived in the Vilnius region. In late August 1939, Eugeniusz was drafted into the army and delegated to the Headquarters of the Vilnius Stronghold. Less than a month later, on September 18, after crossing the Lithuanian border, the garrison units in which he served were interned and Jaworski was sent to a POW camp in Połąga. In late December, he managed to escape and went to Warsaw. His mother and his wife Katarzyna with their four-year-old son joined him later.

In 1940, the Germans started to create a closed district for Jews in Warsaw. Eugeniusz recalled after the war: "In late 1940 a friend of my sister Janina, Jadwiga Strauch, came to us. Neither my wife nor myself knew her [...]. She looked terrible, she was wearing ragged clothes and had lice. She lost her husband and son in the ghetto. She had no money to live on." The couple helped Jadwiga arrange the so-called Aryan documents and receive a Kennkarte (ID) in the name of Maria Dziubalska. Despite the Jaworski family's poor financial condition, Jadwiga was offered a place to live in their home. Thanks to the false documents, she was registered and worked legally in their home as a housemaid and she also received ration stamps.

After some time, it turned out that Eugeniusz's continued stay in Warsaw was extremely risky as reserve officers were being arrested increasingly often. He could not find a job in line with his profession (he was a qualified wood technologist) due to which the Jaworski family’s financial condition was getting worse.

The Jaworskis moved to the settlement of Przeździatka on the outskirts of Sokołów Podlaski, where Eugeniusz became a sawmill manager. Jadwiga went away with them. After the war Eugeniusz stressed that the hidden person felt completely natural living with his family: “Dziubalska felt at home, she helped my wife run the farm and was treated like a family member. She was completely gray, she spoke Polish well, and in our new place of residence there was no one who knew us, which to a large extent ruled out the risk of being reported.” Jews from the Sokołów Podlaski ghetto used to come for occasional help to the sawmill where Eugeniusz worked. This is how the Jaworskis got to know Hersz Biderman, among others.

The Jaworski family’s situation changed when a new manager came to the sawmill. His name was Adamczewski and he was a Volksdeutsch. His behavior forced Jaworski to seek a new job and change the place of residence.

In July 1942, Eugeniusz became the manager of a small wood processing shop located in a forest near the village of Nowa Grabownica close to Ostrów Mazowiecka. The family lived in Ostrów. At that time Katarzyna was pregnant.

In the fall, they were visited by Hersz Biderman with his three-year-old son and two sisters, who had just escaped from the ghetto. Hersz’s first words were: “Please, save us, the Sokołów ghetto has been liquidated. The Germans killed everybody. I have escaped with my family. I’m begging you for shelter, just for a few days.” Unlike Jadwiga, Hersz’s appearance was noticeable, and so was his strong Jewish accent when he spoke Polish. The fact that three other Polish families also lived in the house made helping the Jews even more difficult. So Eugeniusz decided to arrange a shelter for them in the Grabownica shop where one of his employees lived – Kazimierz Hrynkiewicz with his wife Ewelina and son Aleksander. The Hrynkiewicz family agreed.

Hersz had so-called Aryan document in the name of Henryk Dubliński, and his sisters also had false German identity cards. They used them to get registered in the Arbeitsamt, and this way they received ration stamps. However, Hersz and his family did not leave their hideout as they were afraid that someone they knew could see them. Describing the attitude of local inhabitants, Eugeniusz said after the war: “I must stress than neither the workers in the shop nor the inhabitants of the nearby village of Grabownica, who must have become aware who the Bidermans were, ever spread any rumor that would have inevitably led to being reported.”

The wood processing shop was often visited by the Germans, so for security reasons Jaworski told Hersz to pretend to be deaf and dumb. Hunts for escapees from the nearby POW camp in Komorów and the death camp in Treblinka were additional factors that made helping Jews more difficult. Despite the unfavorable circumstances, the Jaworskis did not stop helping the Jews.

Being a member of the Home Army, Eugeniusz was summoned to Warsaw in mid-1944. The Warsaw Uprising broke out while he was there. Jaworski took part in the fighting until the uprising ended, and afterwards was taken prisoner and was kept in an Oflag in Bavaria until the end of the occupation. Katarzyna helped the hidden Jews on her own. At that time, she was very much supported by Jadwiga Strauch. The woman took care of the children, cooked and helped with the housework. The Jews helped by the Jaworskis survived until the end of the war. After the occupation ended, Katarzyna and the children moved to Warsaw and in 1946 Eugeniusz came back from the camp and joined them.

In September 1946, the Biderman family left Poland and moved to South America. After a few months they stopped contacting the Jaworskis. In 1951, Jadwiga Strauch-Gerc emigrated to Israel but maintained close relations and correspondence with them. In 1962, Mr. and Mrs. Jaworski’s daughter Anna visited her in Israel.

Other Stories of Rescue in the Area


  • Archiwum Żydowskiego Instytutu Historycznego, Dział odznaczeń Yad Vashem. Dokumentacja sprawy Katarzyny i Eugeniusza Jaworskich, 349/24/250