The Rek family

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Story of Rescue - The Rek family

Tadeusz Rek, lawyer by profession, was one of the leading activists of the Polish People’s Party. In 1935, he became a member of the Principal Executive Committee [Naczelny Komitet Wykonawczy] of that political party. After 1939, he was a member of the governing bodies of Polish People’s Party “Roch” in Warsaw. In 1940 and 1941, he was an inmate of Auschwitz and Neuengamme concentration camps. He was also an editor of two magazines: Ku zwycięstwu [Towards Victory] and Przez walkę do zwycięstwa [Fighting Towards Victory].

From January 1943 to July 1944, he was the vice-president of the Council to Aid Jews “Żegota”. He occupied this position not because he had been particularly eager to take it up but by mere chance and due to others being reluctant to occupy it. Close to the end of 1942, Józef “Kwiatkowski” Grudziński, a member of the central authorities of the People’s Party, asked Rek whether or not he would like to represent the Party as part of an initiative aimed at helping Jews. Rek recalled this the following way: “it turned out that it was very difficult to find people wanting to help Jews because everyone candidate for such positions would shy away from occupying them”.

Ever since that time, he had been in the top-level management of “Żegota” and took part in weekly sessions of the Council. In the surviving minutes of such sessions, Rek is recorded as “Różycki”. During the uprising in the Warsaw ghetto, he represented “Żegota” at a meeting with a Polish Government Delegate. He requested more financial support for people fleeing from the ghetto and asked that military forces intervene and actively aid people fighting in the ghetto. He also urged the Government Delegation to take more decisive steps against informers and blackmailers.

In addition to managing the Council and representing it, he also helped people in a more direct way. Together with his wife Wanda, he organised accommodation and financial aid for people hiding on the “Aryan side”. The structural unit which he directly managed had around 300 people under its care.

Working for “Żegota” often proved dangerous. While walking to a session, he noticed a car with Gestapo officers inside. “Their searching glances pierced me through and through. I kept a stiff upper lip. Close to the end of ul. Dobra, I met ‘Mikołaj’ [Leon Feiner from General Jewish Labour Bund]. What was I supposed to do? We embraced each other like two old friends (...) There was this moment when we felt the accursed car was following us. We slowed down our pace, pretending to be completely engrossed in our conversation. The car slowly passed by. When the danger was gone, we could feel we were all covered in sweat”.

After the war, he was an activist of an independent people’s movement and had been imprisoned by UB (Soviet secret police). From 1946 to 1957, he was the Vice-Minister of Justice and a judge of the Supreme Court.

The Yad Vashem Institute awarded Tadeusz Rek and his wife Wanda the Righteous Among the Nations title in 1981.

Other Stories of Rescue in the Area

Bibliography

  • Bartoszewski Władysław, Lewinówna Zofia, Ten jest z ojczyzny mojej, Warszawa 2007
    This publication consists of 3 parts: monographic outline of the issue of aid given to the Jews; collection of German and Polish documents concerning the histories of Jews and the aid given to them; collection of the post-war reports created by Poles and Jews about the aid.
  • Arczyński Marek, Balcerak Wiesław, Kryptonim "Żegota". Konspiracyjna Rada Pomocy Żydom 1942-1945, Mińsk-Toronto-Warszawa 2009
  • Prekerowa Teresa, Konspiracyjna Rada Pomocy Żydom w Warszawie 1942-1945, Warszawa 1982
    A monograph concerning the Council to Aid Jews, an organization operating during the war in the Government Delegation for Poland and providing help to Jews, especially those hiding on “the Aryan side”.
  • Grynberg Michał, Księga Sprawiedliwych, Warszawa 1993

    The lexicon includes the stories of Poles honoured with the title of Righteous Among the Nations in the years 1963-1989. The list of entries is preceded by a preface by Icchak Arad and Chaim CheferThe Righteous of the World.

  • Gutman Israel red. nacz., Księga Sprawiedliwych wśród Narodów Świata, Ratujący Żydów podczas Holocaustu, Kraków 2009
  • Archiwum Żydowskiego Instytutu Historycznego, Dział odznaczeń Yad Vashem. Dokumentacja sprawy Tadeusza i Wandy Reków, 349/24/49