The Kaczmarek Family

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Story of Rescue - The Kaczmarek Family

Alina Gronek was born in 1939 in Chełmno (north of Poland). At the age of four her parents Franciszek and Jadwiga Kaczmarek and her younger brother six years old Lucjan moved to Warsaw where her father got assignment as an instructor in the Air Force Officer Cadet School. They lived at 44 Narbutta Street, Warsaw.

The outbreak of the World War II and the first hidden Jews

When the war broke out Franciszek as a military servant took part in the defense of Warsaw. After September 17th 1939 when the Soviets attacked on Poland, he was in the east of Poland. This part of Poland was seized by the Soviet troops and Franciszek immediately got arrested. However, he somehow managed to escape from the Soviet transport to the East and forced his way to the West, first to France and then, when France fell, to England.

His wife, Jadwiga Kaczmarek together with their two children stayed in Warsaw. Conditions in the occupied Warsaw were quickly getting worse. So, soon she was left with nothing to live on. Mrs. Kaczmarek decided then to let one room in her flat and she “placed an advertisement in the local press. Kazia (Kay Weingarten), was the person who replied to this advert in August 1942”.

Jadwiga Kaczmarek and Kazia became friends. As Kazia postponed her registration with the German authorities, it made Jadwiga think that Kazia was Jewish. Having lots of connections with ante Nazi Polish Home Army (AK) Jadwiga managed to obtain a ”false” id card for Kazia (it was an id that had belonged to a woman who had died). So, Kazia became Otylia Maciąg.

In the beginning of 1943 Izaak, a brother of Kazia knocked on Jadwiga’s door. He used to come and visit his sister and with time he started bringing their other relatives – his wife – Mira and his brother –in-law with his wife and their children.

All together there were eight people coming in and going. Among them were Blanche Goldszpiner (Teresa Kwiatkowska) who was at her thirties and her teenage daughter Daisy (Danusia). Some used to hide there for a few months, some for a few days until they moved to other hiding places.

Daily life

None of the hiding people have money except Kazia, so Jadwiga used to share everything she had with them “I used to buy more things then usually but I never managed to bring the whole sack of bread or potatoes. And the bread …. You could only buy it for food ration coupons. I had to deal with it by myself because they (the Jews) couldn’t go out to shop.” The laundry Jadwiga used to hang at the locked attic, so none of the neighbors could see that there is more laundry then usual.

Kazia

In 1944 Kazia was forced to leave Kaczmarek’s flat as a result of anonymous letter to the Police. Jadwiga found her a job as a tutor at house of a wealthy family in Anin (a village near Warsaw). Just before the Warsaw uprising as her living standards were getting worse and worse she ran away to Lublin where she enlisted in the army. The army arrived to Warsaw together with the Soviet Army in January 1945.

After the war

All the people who used to hide Kaczmarek’s flat except Izaak Czakis and Blanche Goldszpiner survived the war. Izaak was killed while his escape from the ghetto and Blanche during the Warsaw Uprising.

After the war Kazia and Daisy Goldszpiner emigrated from Poland to the USA. Kazia settled in Los Angeles, she got married and she gave birth to two sons. She was in touch with Kaczmarek’s family till her death and she even visited Poland.

Daisy lived in New York, where she got married and changed her name to Grob. She had two daughters and she remained in correspondence with Alina for some time.

Young Lucjan Kaczmarek was killed during the Warsaw Uprising. Jadwiga’s husband came back from England to Poland and the family moved to Szczecin.

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Bibliography

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