Pancerz Helena

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Story of Rescue - Pancerz Helena

Helena Pancerz (during the occupation: Kowalska) and Bronisława Maszalajtys, née Goldfinger, lived in Lubcza near Tarnów. Before the war, their families knew each other and were friends with each other. The two girls liked spending time together. Helena described Bronisława as follows: “She was a neighbour of mine and we were close. She helped my parents with farm work. In summer, we would graze sheep on a pasture and we would spend winter evenings plucking feathers. My friendship towards her also manifested itself in my very frequent visits to her house where I was warmly welcomed”.

After the Germans took over the village, Bronisława left to live with her relatives in Katowice and then found herself in Mysłowice. Upon returning to Lubcza, she learned that there were no members of her family left there. The Germans had transported them all away in 1941.

Bronisława was alone and without a roof over her head. She asked Helena for help. At that time, Helena lived with her first husband – Władysław Kowalski – and their children: Władysława, Kazimiera, and Stanisław. She did not refuse to help Bronisława, even though she knew it would endanger the lives of her nearest and dearest.

After the war, Bronisława described the help which she received: “it consisted of hiding me, providing me with means of sustenance, feeding me, etc. I hid in many places all over the house (the basement, barn, shed, etc.). Mrs Pancerz helped me completely selflessly. She was driven to help me by our friendship”.

According to Bronisława, the neighbours knew that she was in hiding at Pancerzowa’s place but no one had notified the German authorities of it. When there was a manhunt in the village or in its vicinity, Bronisława would leave the farmstead and hide in the forest. After the manhunt was over, she would return to the house of Helena and Władysław.

She managed to survive the occupation thanks to Helena’s help. She remained in Poland. The two women remained in touch after the war.

Bibliography

  • Archiwum Żydowskiego Instytutu Historycznego, Dział odznaczeń Yad Vashem. Dokumentacja sprawy Heleny Pancerz, 349/24/2178
  • Gutman Israel red. nacz., Księga Sprawiedliwych wśród Narodów Świata, Ratujący Żydów podczas Holocaustu, Kraków 2009