Story of Rescue - The Sala Family | Polscy Sprawiedliwi

The Sala Family

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Story of Rescue - The Sala Family

Władysław Sala, an educator, served as director of the Mokotów Institute in Warsaw, a care institution for abandoned and neglected boys and difficult youth. Established in 1830, the institution was subject to the Municipal Department of Social Care. Władysław’s wife, Janina worked at the Institute as a caterer.

On the outbreak of World War II, the Institute thrived; modern educational methods were being introduced. In September 1939, the institution’s buildings sustained considerable damage, but its charges refused to leave the home. The buildings were partially repaired for use. A farm located next to the institution, “Ksawerów,” was developed, and some of the boys lived and worked there. Both the Institute’s staff and their charges were engaged in underground activities.

Staunchly opposed to the persecution of Jews by the Germans, Władysław Sala tried to help Jews already at the beginning of the war. At first, he helped Jewish children who were abandoned on the city’s streets by placing them in the Institute, or sending them to other care institutions. In 1942, when the Jews’ tragic situation became clear, Sala and his coworkers decided to rescue Jews on a larger scale. Similar to other workplaces, they applied to the German authorities for permission to temporarily employ 20 Jews on their “Ksawerów” farm. In this way, they planned to supply food into the ghetto.

In June 1942, Sala received approval to employ 20 people, and a pass into the ghetto, which could be used by his gentile employees. They, in turn, picked up the Jewish workers on a daily basis. Members of the Jewish Council determined the group’s composition.

In his testimony about the help provided to Jews in the ghetto, Władysław Sala writes, “What was the benefit of this action? It was threefold and allowed for: 1) people tormented by inhuman conditions in the ghetto to rest and work in decent conditions, without feeling threatened; 2) supplying products bought on the farm or outside of it, even from the nearby illegal bakery located in Królikarnia; 3) most importantly – separating from the group, which obviously required adequate preparation and personal risk.”

When taking Jews from the ghetto, the Institute’s staff always registered the exit of 20 people. In reality, they took even three times that number. Barter took place on the farm; Jews received bread, butter, cheese, and vegetables in exchange for items and clothes taken out of the ghetto. They were assigned light labor, like watering plants and picking berries. After work, Jews returned to the ghetto refreshed and equipped with food; always only 20 people. The rest would escape on their way to work, or from the farm, often with the help of Sala and his staff. And some stayed and hid on the farm.

In his memoir, Władysław Sala writes about his relationship with Janusz Korczak, “I wanted to and I could rescue Janusz Korczak. When I visited him for the first time [to discuss] this matter, he was very interested in the possibility of rescuing at least the eldest charges by our working group. But, after the second visit he was already completely determined, claiming he could not leave his children. ‘Besides,’ he said, ‘Maybe it won’t be that bad.’ Upon my third visit, no one was there.”

Together with his coworkers and wife, Władysław Sala rescued about 500 people. The fate of the majority of them remains unknown. Władysław and Janina Sala were awarded the Righteous Among the Nations title in 1984.

The Mokotów Institute operates until today, now called the Youth Cultural Center and located on 97 Puławska Street. Nearby, on 148 Puławska Street, a stone commemorates the rescue of Jews by the staff of the Mokotów Institute. 

Other Stories of Rescue in the Area

Bibliography

  • Archiwum Żydowskiego Instytutu Historycznego, 349, 1580