Konopka Stefan

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Story of Rescue - Konopka Stefan

Before the war, Stefan Konopka lived with his wife and children in Warsaw. He took part in the fights of September and October 1939, and after they terminated, he moved with his family to the locality of Łomianki where a few dozen Jewish families lived. He helped some of them, mostly materially.

In 1940, the Konopka family returned to Warsaw. Stefan got involved in underground activism, later to join the Polish Home Army. He supported his family by working for a repair and construction company. He was a supervisor, so he could arrange original certificates for members of underground organisations and hiding Jews who needed such help. "As he conducted construction and demolition works in the capital city of Warsaw, Stefan Konopka could obtain work certificates, which he often did, that enabled prosecuted people, especially of Jewish origin, get an identity document, which let them survive," emphasised Leon Krotowski, one of those rescued by Stefan Konopka, after the war.

Jews and members of underground organisations found shelter in Konopka's house. Among those he helped was the Jewish Lipszyc family. "Many individuals passed through my home. They needed help straight away, some were alone, others had families. I tried to help those who asked for it to the extent possible," he wrote after the war. Over time, he also started demolition works in the area of the destroyed Warsaw ghetto. He helped people who were still hiding in its ruins to flee. After the liquidation of the Warsaw ghetto in May 1943, he moved with his family to a house at Twarda 16.

In early 1943, Stefan Konopka met Leon Krotowski, a fugitive from the Warsaw ghetto. He arranged so-called Aryan documents for him, for the name of Antoni Piotr Krajewski. Leon was formally registered as resident in his house, as a brother of Stefan's wife. To provide greater security, Konopka built a double wall in one of the rooms, creating a kind of refuge in case the Nazi Germans conducted a search. Leon Krotowski was not hiding: he did not abstain from going out and went to the church with Konopka's family every Sunday. Despite a few dangerous situations when following denunciations Germans conducted searches in his house, Konopka never stopped providing aid. Not even after being arrested by the German Schutzpolizei did he change his mind. He was released after a few days, having paid a bribe.

Krotowski stayed with the Konopkas until the outbreak of the Warsaw Uprising. After its suppression, he got to Sochaczew and then to the village of Antoniew together with Stefan, where they stayed at a farm owned by Mr Dąbrowski. On 14 October 1944, they were arrested and taken to the Sochaczew camp. They fled after a few weeks and hid in Antoniew again. They were arrested again on 25 December on the way to church, but they managed to escape and hide until the end of the German occupation.

Leon Krotowski survived the war and stayed in Poland thereafter, occasionally contacting the Konopkas.

Other Stories of Rescue in the Area

Bibliography

  • Gutman Israel red. nacz., Księga Sprawiedliwych wśród Narodów Świata, Ratujący Żydów podczas Holocaustu, Kraków 2009
  • Archiwum Yad Vashem, M.31.2/2360
  • Archiwum Żydowskiego Instytutu Historycznego, Dział odznaczeń Yad Vashem. Dokumentacja sprawy Stefana Konopki, 349/24/98