The Swiecicki Family

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Story of Rescue - The Swiecicki Family

Barbara Gazińska nee Święcka, came from a respected and patriotic family. Her father Wacław was an engineer and he was a member of PPS. Her mother ran the household.

Since Barbara was a little girl, her grandmother has instilled in her the feeling that ‘there is nothing more precious to a human being than life’. The girl remembered that throughout her whole life.
She tells about an incident from her childhood: ‘I remember that there was a girl of Jewish origin in my group - it was the second grade of the primary school of course. She must have come from a poor family and I believe that she was raised just by her mother. She was always so sad. And nobody wanted to share the desk with her. So one day, our teacher put one desk away from other desks, it was a desk where naughty pupils were supposed to sit, and said: >>Listen, if nobody wants to sit with you, please sit at that desk<<. It really hurt me so I stood up and said: >>So I’ll sit at that desk as well<<. And I sat with her at that desk until the end of the year”.

In 1941, Wacław Święcki contracted pneumonia and died. After her husband's death, Janina started to work in a factory of cranes.

The Mintzberg Family

Before the World War II, the Mintzberg family lived in Rzeszów. They were well-off and they owned storehouses with fabrics, which were run by the mother – Sabina. The father was dedicated to education. He was a Zionist. The Mintzbergs had four children.

After the World War II began, the Nazis took their property away and soon they received an order to move to the ghetto. The father died of typhus there and the only son was shot dead by the Nazis after they noticed that he was carrying potatoes in his pockets.

Only the mother and three daughters managed to survive the World War II: Róża left to Israel in 1938, while Sabina, Mala and Klara (born December 12th,1915) hid on ‘the Aryan side’ using forged documents.

The decision of the Święcki family

After they escaped from the ghetto, Sabina and Mala managed, in spite of many obstacles and dangers, to reach Warsaw in autumn 1942. Klara and her husband Artur were already there. They found shelter at the house of a teacher. She was not able to take in any more people so she helped them find a hiding place in the house of her neighbor who had lost her husband recently and who was a mother of one of her pupils.

And so, in October 1942, Barbara Święcka’s teacher asked the girl and her mother to take in two women, fugitives from the East. She did not tell them that the women were Jewish. The mother and daughter agreed, although they guessed that the women were Jewish and they did not trust their neighbors.

Sabina and Mala got their own room in the Święcki’s house. Until July 1943, while they were staying at their house, Sabina and Mala did not reveal their origins. The Święcki family, however, found it obvious, though they never showed that they knew it. Sabina had the so-called Semitic looks and she never left the house.

The fact that the Święcki family hid Jewish women did not slip neighbors' attention and the mother and daughter started to receive letters with threats. Sabina and Mala decided to change their hiding place.

Mala and her mother moved to Konstancin Jeziorna and later to Sochaczew, where Klara and her husband found a good shelter before. There they managed to survive until the liberation.

After the World War II

Despite many efforts, it wasn’t before 1983 that Klara Maayan managed to find Barbara Gazińska, maiden name Święcka. The women met when Klara, teacher and psychologist, and before the World War II Janusz Korczak’s co-worker in his Orphanage in Warsaw, came to Warsaw to participate in Korczak’s seminary.

Mala died in 1983. She was not able to meet again with the women who helped her survive.

Other Stories of Rescue in the Area

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Bibliography

  • Gutman Israel red. nacz., Księga Sprawiedliwych wśród Narodów Świata, Ratujący Żydów podczas Holocaustu, Kraków 2009
  • Holocaust Encyclopedia
  • Strączek Ignacy, Interview with Barbara Gazińska, 22.04.2009