The Kaczmarek Family

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Story of Rescue - The Kaczmarek Family

In 1935,Franciszek and Jadwiga Kaczmarek moved their house from Chełmno in Pomerania to Warsaw, together with their four-year-old daughter Alina and her six-year-old brother Lucjan. Once there, Franciszek worked as a trainer with the Air Force Officers’ Academy. Their residence was at 44 Narbutta St.

As World War II broke out, Franciszek, a professional military officer, took part in the defence battle for the Polish capital. After September 17, 1939, he was arrested by the Red Army in the country’s eastern area; however, he managed to escape while being transported eastwards and then hacked westward through to France. When France fell in June 1940, he moved to England where he served as a pilot with the Polish RAF squadron.

Jadwiga stayed in Warsaw, then under nazi occupation, with her two children. Burdensome living conditions forced her to hire out one of the rooms she had initially occupied. A certain lady named ‘Kazia’ (diminutive of Kazimiera) reported at the address in September 1942, in reply to the ad. Jadwiga made friends with her new lodger. However, Kazia delayed her registration, which made her landlady suspicious. The woman admitted she was Jewish. Mrs. Kaczmarek used her contacts with the Home Army (AK) to arrange for a fake Kennkarte for Kazia who was to be renamed as Otylia Maciąg ever since. She earned her living by tutoring English.

Early in 1943, Kazia’s brother Izaak knocked at the door of Jadwiga’s dwelling. He would visit his sister several times and with time started bringing along more members of their family: his wife Mira and his brother-in-law together with his wife and children. Then on, his cousin Blanche Goldszpiner and her daughter Daisy (Danusia) arrived. Eight people stayed for some time at the Narbutta St. apartment altogether.

Some of them would stay in hiding there for a few months; others would use it just for a few days and move to their other hideouts soon after. Jadwiga shared with them whatever she could have at her disposal. She in fact treated them as if they were her own family, observing special care.

Resulting from poison-pen letters she frequently received, Kazia eventually left the Kaczmareks’ house in May 1944. They helped her getting employed as a governess with a well-off family in Anin near Warsaw. Before the Warsaw Uprising, she got through to Lublin where she enrolled with the People’s Army of Poland (LWP) with which she made the war route down to Berlin.

Apart from Kazia’s brother who was killed while attempting to drive more people out of the ghetto, and Blanche Goldszpiner who was killed during the Warsaw Uprising, all the other Jewish people to whom the Kaczmareks had offered a hiding place survived the war.

The young Lucjan Kaczmarek died in the Warsaw Uprising. The war over, Jadwiga’s husband returned home from England and their family moved to Szczecin. Kazimiera took care of Daisy Goldszpiner. They both emigrated to the U.S. but did not cease to stay in touch with Mrs. Kaczmarek and her children. 

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Bibliography

  • Archiwum Żydowskiego Instytutu Historycznego, 349, 2504
  • Kacprzyk Marta, Interview with Alina Gronek, 3.04.2009