The Kuszell Family

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Story of Rescue - The Kuszell Family

Kazimierz Kuszell and Maria Konic met in around 1918 in Warsaw at the SGGW (Warsaw University of Life Sciences), where they were studying agriculture. The married in 1922 and settled in Przytoczno, on a manor estate which Kazimierz received from his parents upon his marriage. Even though Maria had been brought up in the Catholic faith, she had Jewish origins. Both she and Kazimierz belonged to the PPS (Polish Socialist Party). They had seven children – two sons and five daughters.

In Przytoczno, the Kuszell family hosted many friends, often with their entire families. When the War broke out in September 1939, they took in the Serejski family, who had spent the past summer with them. Marian Serejski, a historian and a professor at Warsaw University, was a Jew. His wife, Janina, was a Pole. They had two children – Leszek and Krysia. Mrs Wimiarzowa, Janina’s mother, came with them.

Probably, around the end of 1941, Marian Serejski, actually staying in a nearby village, was caught in a round-up and was put into Auschwitz. Following much inventions and great effort, he was released after a little over a year. He returned to Przytoczno with orders to report weekly to the local military police station.

Oskar Bartel’w wife also found shelter with the Kuszell family. He was a teacher of Polish at the Reja high school in Warsaw where, during the War, he had taught Andrzej, the Kuszell’s elder son. In 1941, Oskar Bartel turned to his student with a request for help to hide his wife. Zofia Bartlowa was Jewish, with a Semitic appearance. She was being blackmailed. The Kuszell family agreed to take her into their home. She assumed the name Jadwiga Idzikowska and referred to her husband as her fiancé so that he could visit her in Przytoczna.

The Kuszell family also sheltered Rysia Kłos, who became an apprentice on their farm. She came to them in 1942. Józef andi Hanna Piechowicz, and their son Andrzej, were also hidden in Przytoczna.

The inhabitants and farm workers in the Przytoczno area knew that Maria ”the heiress”, even though a zealous Catholic, had Jewish origins. Despite that, no hostile action was ever taken against her. However, due to her, her father-in-law, Wacław Kuszell, was being blackmailed. He was threatened with having his daughter-in-law denounced. The blackmailer had demanded a piece of land as the price for silence. Wacław Kuszell succumbed to the blackmail and transferred the land demanded.

Even though everyone in hiding had false Aryan papers and no one had guessed their origins, Przytoczna could not avoid other dangers. There were at least a dozen or so attacks. Some of them were organised by the partisans and were limited to requisitioning food. Others were simple banditry and robbery. During one attack in December 1942, the bandits were particularly brutal. Kazimierz Kuszell, standing up protecting his daughter, was shot.

The Kuszells’ son, Andrzej, also died during the War. He fell, fighting as a partisan in Gręzówka, near Łukowe, in August 1944.

All those, who were hidden in Przytoczna, survived. Following the Soviet Army’s entry into the Lubelskie Province in September 1944, the Kuszell family property was nationalised.

After the War, Maria Kuszllowa, with her remaining children, was evicted from her property and settled in Warsaw. She worked in Otwock, running the Kasztelanka holiday home belonging to theSpołem Co-operative. Later, she worked in the co-operative movement in Warsaw. All her children completed higher education. To this day, the Kuszell family has maintained contact with some of those whom they sheltered.

Written by Jadwiga Rytlowa from discussions with Helena, Barbara and Katarzyna Kuszell.