The Plazinski Family

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Story of Rescue - The Plazinski Family

Maria Baran, a widow, lived with her mother, Helena Mika and her daughter Zuzanna, in the village of Święty Stanisław near Kołomyja, which was a settlement with an ethnic Polish population. During the War, Maria married Józef Płaziński – her second marriage.

On a winter’s day in 1943, Maria saw Szulim, a young Jew, in the barn. He had once help ed her when she had got lost at night. She offered to help him. The youngman declined her offer, but asked that, in his place, she help his friend Anna Weisman.

After escaping from nearby Otynia where, on 25th September 1942, the Jewish population had been murdered, she had probably found herself in the Stanisławów ghetto. Then, together with her family – her uncle Ruwen Weisman, her mother Pepi Renert-Weisman and her younger sister Ewą – she had hidden in the forest for a few months. Her father, Israel Krieger, who before the War had been a merchant in Otynia, had already been murdered in 1941 together with his adult siblings. Before the War, Ruwen Weisman was employed as a dentist in Stanisławów. Fifteen year old Anna was exhausted and ill following having had her frostbitten toes amputated in the forest.

Maria hesitated. She feared for the safety of her own family. However, she felt gratitude towards Szulim. She also felt that she owed the life of her daughter Zuzanna to the care and skill of a Jewish doctor in Otynia. What tipped the balance of the scales was the reaction of Zuzanna, herself – when she heard Anna’s story, she cried until her mother finally agreed to help.

”When I heard what that man said about the girl, I again start to whimper and cry and pleaded with my mother that I didn’t have a friend like that, that I didn’t have a sister”, said Zuzanna Warchoł in an interview with the Museum of the History of Polish Jews. ”I said that, from a distance, no one would see the colour of the hair or the faces of that family (…). And so my mother finally agreed to take in the girl.”

Shortly afterwards, Szulim returned, asking that Anna’s uncle, Józef Renert, also be hidden. He had hidden in the forest and, having lost his wife, daughter and son, was toying with the ide of committing suicide. Maria agreed to help him also.

Ania and Józef remained with Maria Płazińska for almost a year, actively taking part in the life of the family. A hiding-place had been prepared for them in the attic of the woodshed. The entrance to the attic was was hidden between buildings but was easily accessible to enter and leave.

At the end of the War, due to the prevailing chaos, together with other family members who had survived through being hidden by other Polish families, they left the village. Shortly after, Maria’s family was driven out and their home was burnt. Szulim did not survive the War. He was shot in the forest, having accidentally come across an Ukrainian policeman.

After the War, the Płaziński family, living in poverty as a result of having lost their home and all their assets,  were given support by those whom they had saved. Józef Renert helped them to buy a horse and cart to help them run the farm business which they had received as returning expatriates. They were also invited to Legnica. Anna completed her dentistry studies and, with her uncle Ruwen, ran a dental practice in Legnica. In 1958. Anna, together with her mother and younger sister and her uncle Józef Renert, left for Israel. They never returned to Poland, but maintained contact via mail, with the family which had helped them to survive the German occupation.

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Bibliography

  • Gutman Israel red. nacz., Księga Sprawiedliwych wśród Narodów Świata, Ratujący Żydów podczas Holocaustu, Kraków 2009
  • Magdalena Suchodolska, Interview with Zuzanna Warchoł-Baran, 19.07.2010
  • Archiwum Żydowskiego Instytutu Historycznego, 349, 1616