The Kulik family and Czesław Górski

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Story of Rescue - The Kulik family and Czesław Górski

In 1942, Halina Kulik and Czesław Górski lived at ul. Pańska 69 in Warsaw. They lived together, even though they were not officially married, and they ran their household together. They were also rearing Helena’s daughter Irena, aged 13 at the time, together. Czesław ran a newsagent’s at Hala Mirowska while Helena looked after their house. Due to financial considerations, they decided to publish an announcement saying that they had a room to let in February 1942. It meant that the three of them would have to live in only one of the two rooms comprising their apartment.

Jan Zalewski answered to their announcement. He was in fact Jecheskiel Dobrzyński from Kalisz, a fugitive from the ghetto in Opatów Kielecki who was hiding on the “Aryan side” in Warsaw. The man did not tell his hosts the truth about himself as that would have been too risky. Consequently, Halina and Czesław had no idea who their flatmate was. They got on very well with one another.

After some time, however, the hosts managed to work out their lodger’s identity. This did not affect the relations between them. The rent he had to pay for his room was not increased either, even though this would usually happen because landlords wanted to receive some compensation for the risk they ran by harbouring a Jew or simply took advantage of the helplessness of fugitives. Halina and Czesław liked the young Jecheskiel, who was only 20 at the time, and the thirteen-year-old Irena, who also knew who he really was, treated him like her elder brother.

However, the hosts had to be more vigilant and careful in order to avoid being denounced and minimise the risk of brutal repressions threatening them. Irena played a particularly important part as far as this is concerned – she took advantage of her youth and the leniency with which others treated her to monitor the situation outside of their house, e.g. for learning about uninvited guests. Were an adult to behave as she did, it would be suspicious. An appropriately believable cover story was also devised – everyone was told that Jecheskiel was a distant relative who was hiding to avoid being transported to Germany to perform forced labour.

They were all lucky enough to have survived the occupation. Halina, Czesław, and Irena helped Jecheskiel selflessly. They remained friends with their former lodger even after the war was over. The Yad Vashem Institute awarded the Righteous Among the Nations title to them in 1994.

Other Stories of Rescue in the Area

Bibliography

  • Archiwum Żydowskiego Instytutu Historycznego, Dział odznaczeń Yad Vashem. Dokumentacja sprawy Haliny Kulik, 349/24/1940
  • Gutman Israel red. nacz., Księga Sprawiedliwych wśród Narodów Świata, Ratujący Żydów podczas Holocaustu, Kraków 2009