Rzeczycka Sylwia

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Story of Rescue - Rzeczycka Sylwia

Sylwia Rzeczycka was a member of the Warsaw intelligentsia. She was born in Russia but her family cultivated their Polish traditions there. Her father was a high-ranking military officer. Before 1939, Sylwia Rzeczycka lived in Warsaw. She was an active underground activist during the Nazi occupation and a soldier of the Home Army nicknamed “Zenek” and “Sylwia”.

An important aspect of her clandestine activity was saving Jewish people. She looked after a considerable number of people and tried to find a safe residence for them, as well as documents making a relatively normal existence possible for them. Her help started with taking in a girl named Helena who, with the help of a friend of hers who was also Jewish, was trying to obtain German registration papers [Kennkarte] via dr Garlicka. However, dr Garlicka was arrested and died in Oświęcim and Helena asked Sylwia Rzeczycka for help. From that time onwards, the number of people under Sylwia’s care kept growing. Being deeply religious, she decided that God wanted her to aid people who needed help the most during the occupation.

Due to the fact that she had established good relations with Catholic clergy and the underground, she could count on others assisting her in procuring “Aryan” papers for fugitives from ghettos - this was a requirement which needed to be met if they were to find accommodation and work. She obtained papers not only for people under her protection but also for the charges of people looking after Jews on behalf of the Council to Aid Jews “Żegota”, including Janina Bucholtz-Bukolska. It was only a matter of time before she herself became a collaborator of the Council.

It was indeed so. She met Basia Berman, who asked her to start working together with her, via Bucholtz-Bukolska. Berman delivered lists of names and addresses together with money for them to Sylwia. Receipts were prepared using the real names of people in hiding which was very dangerous in the event of an arrest. Sylwia also started working together with Aleksandra Dargiel on a similar basis. Thanks to this, she was able to also procure money for her charges.

Her help made it possible for entire families to survive the occupation. “My own sister would not have done so much for me”, Anna Oderfeld, one of the people saved, wrote years later.

Sylwia Rzeczycka helped others selflessly. She acted out of humanitarian and religious considerations. The Yad Vashem Institute awarded her with the Righteous Among the Nations title in 1965.

Other Stories of Rescue in the Area


  • 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.
  • 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 Sylwii Rzeczyckiej, 349/24/2226