The Roztropowicz Family

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Story of Rescue - The Roztropowicz Family

Józef Roztropowicz and his wife Natalia leased some land in a settlement near Radziwiłłów (now Ukraine)..They had four children. In the area that they lived, 75% of the population were Jews. The rest were Poles and Ukrainians.

In the summer of 1943 a large part of the Polish population fell victim to attacks of Ukrainian nationalists. The Roztropowicz family, to save their lives, moved to Radziwiłłów. They lived in abuilding,with, among others neighbors, the Stramski family and a family hiding a Jewish girl, Sabina Kagan. One day Zofia Stramska, who was a friend and a neighbour of the Roztropowicz daughters’, discovered Sabina. She had been, kept for several months in a cradle in a little dark storage room behind the kitchen. She was dirty, hungry and very frightened.

Sabina found new guardians. Stanisława Roztropowicz-Szkubel recalls: “My father stands firm. He says »Listen, we cannot look at this child dying of starvation (...) there are two choices - either we take her in, or we tell the Germans that there is a Jewish child. Then the whole family and the child will die. (...) but if we take her in, that means that if someone tells [them] that we’re keeping a Jewish child,we all will die «”.

After the war, Sabina was adopted by a married couple of Jewish doctors. They emigrated to Israel and broke off any contact with Poland. But Stanisława Roztropowicz- Szkubel had been looking for Sabina throughout her entire life. A researcher from Jerusalem, who was working in the Jewish Historical Institute in Warsaw, coincidentally associated the story of a Jewish girl described by Stanisława with the biography of Sabine Heller she had known. For the first time Sabina learnt about her biological parents in 1999. They were murdered during the Holocaust. Today, she is friends with the Roztropowicz family.

Bibliography

  • Kempa-Kurkiewicz Marta, Interview with Stanisława Roztropowicz-Szkubel , 18.02.2009
  • Czyżewska Anna, Interview with Zofia Hołub, 28.04.2009
  • Gutman Israel red. nacz., Księga Sprawiedliwych wśród Narodów Świata, Ratujący Żydów podczas Holocaustu, Kraków 2009