Story of Rescue - Mazurkiewicz Agnieszka
After graduating in medicine at the University of Vienna, Dr. Ludwik became a town physician in Zbaraż (in Ternopil Province, currently Ukraine). His wife Franciszka (Fanni, née Stein, 1892–1942) was a teacher at the local secondary school. The Landaus had two daughters – Ida (later Fink, 1921–2011) and Elsa (Elżbieta, later Neuhaus, born 1922). Before the war Ida began studying at the Conservatory in Lviv. In 1941 their mother died of cancer.
One of Dr. Landau's patients was Agnieszka Mazurkiewicz, who lived in the Polish village of Kretowce near Zbaraż with her son Edward (b. 1925) and daughter Józefa (later Mucha, b. 1923). Agnieszka's husband Wojciech went to Canada in 1926.
During the German occupation, Landau initially ran the Jewish clinic in Zbaraż. Once the ghetto was established there, Ida and Elza escaped from the town with the so-called Aryan papers. Their father was hiding in near Zbaraż – first in the basement of beekeeper Milko Biliński, then in the barn under the care of Szub – the Deputy Mayor of Zbaraż deputy mayor, and later at the home of former policeman Kinach, who signed a lifelong maintenance agreement with him. However, after a month he threw Dr. Landau out. He then went to the farm of Mr. Rybak, where he hid in the attic and in the garden. "At that time I no longer believed I could find some shelter, I was broken and decided to return to the [closed] quarter. I wrote a farewell letter to the children and sent it to a Polish friend, headmaster [Józef] Iwaszkiewicz with a request to deliver it to my daughters after the war", Landau wrote in his testimony for Yad Vashem in 1961. Having received the letter, Iwaszkiewicz took Landau to the village of Kretowce. There Landau asked Agnieszka Mazurkiewicz for help. The woman agreed to help, but at first she would keep him in secret from their children. Landau recalls: "Although she was not wealthy, Mazurkiewicz did not expect any payment and did her best to take care of me. She was brave and clever; her adult children had no idea that she was hiding someone".
Józefa Mucha mentioned in her statement: "One evening my mother called me and my brother to help her to take out dirt from near the pigsty in wheelbarrows. We wondered what the point of this job was, but my mum brushed us off without clear explanations. [...] We started watching my mum; we didn't say anything, but we knew that someone was hiding in the shelter". The Edward's statement also indicates that Agnieszka told her children the truth only after some time. "I and my sister pretended that we did not suspect anything. One evening my mother hugged me and my sister and said that she had agreed to hide one man of Jewish origin. We understood all that, knowing what could it lead to, and we knew that we devote our greatest treasure, our lives. We promised my mother that we would help her".
Edward's task was to control the situation in the village: "As a young boy I visited my friends and observed whether anything was happening".
Mazurkiewicz's children called Dr. Landau "uncle". They both emphasized in their statements that the man was hiding in very difficult conditions. Józefa wrote: "The uncle patiently endured all inconveniences while sitting in the shelter, always listening, trembling at every sound. This could not be called life". The most difficult was the situation in the winter, "when we had to light the fire in a separate room, so that the uncle was able to get warm and wash himself – after all he was a living man, although he had modest requirements, but nevertheless it was necessary for hygiene and other activities".
Dr. Landau stayed with Mazurkiewicz for 9 months, until March 1944. Józef described the moment of entrance of the Soviet troops as follows: "The uncle spent the last days in the shelter. He was weak, but with the help of a Soviet soldier – who was also a Jew – he came out of the shelter and lay in bed in a warm room for a few days. When we recovered, he returned to Zbaraż to his home. He was our friend, we were visiting each other and he helped us whenever he could." Indeed, Landau says that after leaving the shelter, "I had pressure sores all over my body, I could not walk, and I lay in the cabin for two weeks".
After being repatriated to the so-called Recovered Territories, he found his daughters in Kłodzko, where he returned to his profession in August 1945. Ida was married to Bronek (Bruno) Fink (1905–1983) and in 1952 she gave birth to Miri. Her sister Elsa worked as a nurse. In 1957 Dr. Landau moved to Israel with his daughters and their families. Ida Fink became a well-known writer. Her father settled in Ramat Gan and worked as a doctor. After his departure he remained in close contact with Mazurkiewicz by sending her letters, money and parcels.
In 1995 the Yad Vashem Institute awarded Agnieszka Mazurkiewicz the title of Righteous Among the Nations.