The Orlowski Family

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Story of Rescue - The Orlowski Family

Marta Orłowska with her husband and grown-up daughter Helena lived during the occupation in Milanówek near Warszawa. Helena’s husband, Leon Spirydowicz, was killed on the French front in the first months of World War II. She herself got actively involved in the underground activity. With time, she became the Signal Manager at the Home Army Main Headquarters. She was awarded the Virtuti Militari and Cross of Valor medals in 1943 and 1944 respectively.

The family made a living by selling their belongings and doing odd jobs by Mr. Orłowski. Despite a difficult situation, “living in Milanówek made it possible to rescue people who were threatened by Nazism.” – Helena Spirydowicz-Garczyńska relates  in the account deposited in the Jewish Historical Institute.

The Jewish attorney Czeszer found a shelter at the Orłowskis’ where he spent about a year and a half. Once a week, Helena would bring press and parcels from his wife to Lucjan Altberg, an escapee from the Warsaw ghetto, who was in hiding in Brwinów. She also got him false documents on the name Laskowski.

In August 1944, they accepted under their roof three escapees from the transit camp in Pruszków: a friend from before the war, Wanda Rachalska and two Jewish girls Wanda took care of, Sima Najberg and Anita Penner.

Eleven-year-old Sima Najberg who came from Łęczna got under the care of Wanda Rachalska a few days before the Uprising started. Prior to that, she and her family were hiding in forests in villages near Warszawa, and when in the end the girl was orphaned, she wandered about the streets of Warszawa. At the Orłowskis’ she finally found a shelter for a longer time and the feeling of family warmth. As Helena’s alleged cousin she stayed with the family up until 1946 when they decided to send her to the Jewish Committee.

With a group of Jewish children from an orphanage in Łódź she went through France to Israel, to the Gan Shmuel kibbutz. Once there she changed her name to Sabina, in memory of the girl met during the war who rescued her.

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