Tecko Joanna

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Story of Rescue - Tecko Joanna

Joanna Tecko lived in Choszczówka near Warsaw. In March 1943, her friend approached Joanna with a request to help her fiancé, Norbert Stramer. The request concerned getting Norbert out of the Janowska camp in Lwów, where he was imprisoned due to his Jewish origin. A month later, Joanna went to Lwów. She helped Norbert escape from the camp and go to Warsaw, to his fiancée.

Shortly afterwards, in summer 1943, Joanna saved two other people: Herman Osterweil and his 6-year-old son Jerzyk. On the request of Elżbieta Brodzianka, Herman’s cousin, Joanna helped the two escape from the Tarnów ghetto.

Everyday, Herman left the ghetto to work, which allowed Joanna to establish contact with him. They decided that Jerzyk would be led out first. A week later, Herman smuggled him to the Aryan side and delivered him to Joanna, who took him to Warsaw.

“We arrived in Warsaw in the morning after an all-night train journey. In the evening, I took him to Brwinów to Mr. and Mrs. Kamiński, with whom I had made previous arrangements. […] I visited him relatively often; the child felt good there, was content and happy.”

Herman’s escape was planned for the fall. Joanna supplied him with false documents, which allowed them to safely reach Warsaw. She put him up in Bielany, with the Karpiński family, Every Saturday and Sunday she brought Jerzyk there.

On 23 February 1944, a tragic event happened. Threatening to denounce Herman, denouncers attacked him and killed him before Jerzyk’s eyes. Joanna recounts: “Fearing the surveillance of the blackmailers, who might have tracked down the child’s place of residence, after two days I took Jerzyk to Ożarów, to a person recommended to me by my acquaintances. They did not give me her last name, just the address and a password.”

Joanna used to visit the boy until the outbreak of the Warsaw Uprising. During the Uprising she was deported to Germany. After her return in 1946, she found out that Jerzyk lived abroad. After the war he was placed in a Jewish children’s home. His uncle found him there and took him to the West. In 1981, Jerzyk (using the name Józef at that time) went to the United States. Before his departure he met with Joanna.

In 1989, Joanna Tecko received the title “Righteous among the Nations.” The medal and honorary diploma awarded by the Yad Vashem Institute, as well as the original testimonies submitted by Joanna Tecko, are located in the archives of the Museum of the History of Polish Jews.

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