The Szymanski Family

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Story of Rescue - The Szymanski Family

Prior to the outbreak of war, the Szymański family lived in Rytwiany near Staszów, in the Kielce Province, where Michał worked on the Radziwiłł estate and was head of the local Volunteer Fire Service.

His second wife, Antonina (nee Paraczyńska) looked after five children - Zofia, Władysława, Leon, Irena and Helena.

Before the outbreak of World War II, the family moved to Zielonka near Warsaw, where Michał took over the running of the local brickworks. Jeszajahu (Szaje) Grodzicki, father of Cypora Lewit (Stanisława Grodzicka) and Dora Schicht (Zofia Grodzicka), worked at the same brickworks as a glazier. With the advent of war, the whole Grodzicki family found itself in the Wołomin ghetto. Liquidation of the ghetto took place at the beginning of October 1942, with its inhabitants being transported to Treblinka. Their parents, Jeszajahu and Freda, together with their younger sisters, Miriam (Marysia) and Tomcia (Towa?), most probably perished in Treblinka.

Cypora and Dora hid on the grounds of the Zielonka brickyard. Despite their difficult material situation and the danger, the Szymański family took care of them, ensuring that they had both a roof over their heads and food which was prepared for them by Antonina Szymańska.

As Leon Szymański recalls in an interview with the Museum of the History of Polish Jews, “When Zosia and Stasia fled from Wołomin, the only place where they could hide was with us, in the brickworks”.

Thanks to his contacts with the Polish underground, Michał’s son, Leon Szymański, obtained “Aryan” documents for the girls. With those documents, they were able to move to Warsaw where they found work as housemaids. However, during times of particular danger, they repeatedly returned to the Szymański family who always took them in with open arms.

Cypora and Dora, together with the Szymański family, were deported from Zielonka in August 1944 and ended up in a transit camp in Pruszków. Together with Leon’s sister, they escaped from the transport which was taking them to forced labour in Germany and found employment in a gardening business near Sochaczew.

After the War, Dora registered with the Jewish Committee and then emigrated to Argentina. With great difficulty, the younger Cypora left the Polish family with whom she had become very close and left for Israel. 

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Bibliography

  • Gutman Israel red. nacz., Księga Sprawiedliwych wśród Narodów Świata, Ratujący Żydów podczas Holocaustu, Kraków 2009
  • Żulikowski Piotr, Interview with Leon Szymański, 10.08.2010