Lebiedzinska Maria

enlarge map

Story of Rescue - Lebiedzinska Maria

Maria Lebiedzińska – a nurse, Home Army member, a Righteous Among the Nations. During World War II she helped Alicja Margulies, a Jew who was hiding under the name Zawadzka. At the most dangerous time she hid Alicja in the room she rented in Warsaw, then found her a job and a place to stay. Alicja survived the war 1950s emigrated to Israel.

German occupation Maria spent in Warsaw. Her father was an officer of War Navy and had been taken prisoner. So, she moved to her aunt and uncle. She was studying in a School of Nursing and working as a nurse in a hospital at the same time. Knowing that she was a nurse a lot of people used to give her some money and food for patients. It was through these contacts she met Mrs. Zawadzka and her daughters. They soon became friends especially with Lilka (the older daughter).To earn a living they baked cakes together and a (female) neighbor was selling them. Maria suspected that Mrs. Zawadzka and her daughters might be Jewish and she probably wasn’t the only one who thought so.

One day the Germans came to Zawadzka’s flat and as Maria recalls:” I wasn’t there because I had my classes. When Lilka got known that the Germans took her mother she said << No, I can’t leave her by herself>> and she ran after them. The Germans took both of them. And that was it. I’ve never seen them again.”

When Mrs. Zawadzka and Lilka were arrested the younger daughter- Ala was out. In the evening the girl came to Maria’s flat and asked “<<Marysiu (a nick name for Maria) will you help me? >> Well, what can one say? An honest man can only say <<Of course>> and that was what I said << Come in. Quickly>>”

That evening Alicja revealed that her true name was Appel and she had fake documents and a fake Christening Certificate in the name of Zawadzka. She moved into Maria’s room.

When it became too dangerous for Alicja to live with them, Maria’s aunt Mrs. Zofia Meissner, who had been financially supporting the girls, managed to find a job of a nanny for Alicja at Harasymowicz’s family.

Some time later Alicja was accosted by a blackmailer (szmalcownik) who wanted money from her for not telling anyone that she was Jewish. Alicja was horrified and decided to tell the Harasymowicz’s family the truth as she didn’t want to put them at risk

Maria Lebiedzińska was a member of the Home Army (AK – the underground Polish Army) and informed her superior about the issue. Maria’s AK mates started to guard the Harasymowicz’s house in order to capture the informer and they assured Alicja”<<You are not leaving us. You will stay with us till the very end, as long as possible, and maybe this man won’t return…>> and he didn’t show up anymore. Alicja lived there till the Warsaw Uprising and while I was fighting in the uprising she even came to see me in my unit” says Maria.

When the uprising fell Maria was arrested and sent to a force labor camp in Ufastadt near Babelsberg, Germany. By the end of the war the area became a soviet zone. When Maria came back to Poland she moved to Włocławek where her family lived. She got a nurse job there.

After the fall of Warsaw uprising, Alicja left the city together with the civilians. Her aunt Irena Olszewska who had also been hiding in Warsaw during the German occupation took care of her. Later Alicja got married and together with her husband emigrated from Poland to Israel in 50’s. They live in Hajfa.   


Maria and Alicja are still in touch.


Other Stories of Rescue in the Area


  • Strączek Ignacy, Interview with Maria Lebiedzińska, 2.09.2009