Kalek Weronika

enlarge map

Story of Rescue - Kalek Weronika

Michał Steinlauf, his wife Małka, and their two children (nine year old Bajla-Sura and four year old Kalman) lived in Radomsk. Michał was a factory owner. For six years, Weronika Kalek lived with tchem as nanny to the children.

Steinlauf knew Natalia Abramowicz from before the War. Her parents grew and sold flowers in Radomsk. Her home was located near the city. Following the death of her parents, she shared the house with her brother. The Abramowicz family were Evangelicals. In 1923, the Abramowicz's brother-in-law owned a timber factory in partnership with two Jews.

In 1923, Michał Steinlauf was employed by that company and lived in the Abramowicz home. He remained with them even when the business collapsed and he obtained a new job.

When the Steinlauf family found themselves in the Radomsk ghetto, which had already been established by December 1939, Weronika would bring them food. They managed to escape from the ghetto in October 1942, most likely just before the ghetto's liquidation which began on 9th October 1942. Over three days, almost all of the Jews in the ghetto were transported to the Treblinka extermination camp. Małka's brother, Jakub Wygodzki and his wife Pola, escaped with Michał, Małką and their children.

For around ten months, the entire family was hidden in an attic hiding place prepared by Natalia Abramowicz. Thanks to the garden, where instead of flowers there were now potatoes and other vegetables, Weronika could feed the hidden adults and children. Wanda Kalek refused to leave the children and hid herself together with the Steinlauf family. Natalia endeavoured to remain in the house and invited no one for fear of being denounced.

In the spring of 1943, many homes in Radomsk were searched by the German police. The Steinlauf family were scared that the sound of Kalman crying would betray their presence. In view of the ever-increasing danger, it was decided that, with Weronika's help, the women and children would go to a new hiding place prepared in Częstochowa. Unfortunately, the woman who had agreed to hide Małka, her children and her sister-in-law, betrayed them.

All, including Weroniką, were arrested. When Michał stopped getting messages from his family in Częstochowa, he began to sense the worst. Abramowicz recalls how he would entire days sitting by their one window.

On 8th May 1943, the Gestapo appeared at Natalia Abramowicz's home. By distracting the police away from the attic, Natalia enabled Michał to escape. She later claimed that evidence left behind of Jews staying there had been due to people living in her attic without her knowledge.

Despite that, Abramowicz was arrested, transported first to her home city and then to Częstochowa where she was sentenced to death. Within the first two weeks in prison, she saw Małka, her children and the sister-in-law. They were all shot on 20th June 1943. Abramowicz's death sentence was commuted to life imprisonment due to the fact that, at the beginning of the occupation, her family was listed as "Volksdeutsch".

After the War, Steinlauf left for France where he established a new family with wife Netą and son Seweryn. Steinlauf and his family later settled in Melbourne where he established a shirt factory and became a member of B’nai B’rith.

In 1977, Weronika Kalek was honoured with the title of Righteous Among the Nations. In 1969, Natalia Abramowicz was granted that same honour.

Bibliography

  • Archiwum Yad Vashem, 533