The Raszkiewicz Family

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Story of Rescue - The Raszkiewicz Family

In 1942, Chaim Birenbaum’s mother and sister were transported from Umschlagplatz in the Warsaw ghetto to an extermination camp. During the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising a year later, Chaim was also put on a concentration camp transport but jumped out of the train.

“They shot at him, but missed-says Helena Bąkała. - He was taken in by a forester’s wife, who, while giving him food also winked at her husband to go and inform on the escapee. Chaim realized what was happening, ‘I left everything and fled’-he said. When they came for him, there were sounds of gunfire at the lodge.”

Exhausted after a few days of wandering, Chaim, then a teenager, reached Warsaw. He went to his neighbours from before the war: Helena Bąkała, her husband Tadeusz, and Helena’s mother Julianna Raszkiewicz. He stayed with them for three weeks. This was a restless and difficult time, since their apartment was next to the Warsaw ghetto. Ukrainian guards patrolled the streets and a self-appointed collaborator lived just across the landing. Helena used to smuggle food into the ghetto pretending to be a janitor.

“I used to take a broom, sweep the floor and acted like a janitor if I saw those Ukrainians hanging about. It’s all very difficult to describe what we went through. You, the young people, now live in good times, but we went through a lot then.”

Tadeusz Bąkała organized false documents for Chaim who signed up for forced labour in Germany under pretending to be Christian. In 1947 he emigrated to Israel. He lives in Haifa and keeps in touch with Helena Bąkała. Hesendsher pictures of his children and grandchildren. In 1994 he visited her in Warsaw.

Other Stories of Rescue in the Area

Bibliography

  • Chimiak Julia, Interview with Helena Bąkała, 2.06.2009
  • Gutman Israel red. nacz., Księga Sprawiedliwych wśród Narodów Świata, Ratujący Żydów podczas Holocaustu, Kraków 2009