The Matuszewski Family

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Story of Rescue - The Matuszewski Family

Already as a schoolboy and avid scout, the future literary critic and essayist Ryszard Matuszewski had many Jewish friends. Among those he remained close to in adulthood were writer Jan Kottand doctor Antoni Rosental, whom Ryszard and his wife, Beata, hid for some time in their apartment, located at Krasińskiego 18 in the  Żoliborz district of Warsaw.

On behalf of the Żegota Council for Aiding Jews, Ryszard could offer financial aid to the literati who used his home as a shelter. His plight against the occupying forces included writing for the underground press and organizing clandestine literary activities. In addition to their friends, the Matuszewskis also harboured several Jewish women, ostensibly there as nannies and outfitted with Aryan papers. One of these women, Elżbieta Pawlowska, stayed with the Matuszewskis from winter, 1942, until spring, 1943. In this time, she took care of the Matuszewskis’ small daughter, Malgosia, and became a close friend of the family’s. Later, Elżbieta was arrested and taken to Auschwitz, but, fortunately, she was not found out to be a Jew.

From the spring of 1943 until the outbreak of the Warsaw Uprising, taking care of Malgosia were Zofia Zawadzka and a nurse named Tunia (later Szpilman). Meanwhile, the Matuszewskis wrote letters to Elżbieta in Auschwitz. Afterwards, they maintained friendly contacts with her and the others. Ryszard Matuszewski went on to write about the survivors and those who perished in his book “Alphabet”, as well as in many of his poems and literary sketches (including “My Unsaved”).

Other Stories of Rescue in the Area

Bibliography

  • Mazurczak Katarzyna, Interview with Ryszard Matuszewski, 1.01.2007
  • Gutman Israel red. nacz., Księga Sprawiedliwych wśród Narodów Świata, Ratujący Żydów podczas Holocaustu, Kraków 2009
  • Szewc Piotr, Cenię proste wartości: rozmowa z Ryszardem Matuszewskim, „Rzeczpospolita”, nr 263