The Witkowski Family

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Story of Rescue - The Witkowski Family

After the massacre in the Ochota and Wola districts, Warsawians fled from the city looking for shelter on the outskirts.

“Among the crowd was a tramp, who came to see my Mum at the photographer’s shop, asking for help. Mum started talking with him, and he revealed that he had escaped from Pawiak prison. For my Mum, the word ‘Pawiak’ was like a red rag to a bull,” says Ryszard Witkowski, who lived with his mother and sister in Milanówek. 

Felicja and Aniela Witkowska were kept in Pawiak prison for a month and a half, because their then 17-year-old son and brother had been involved in underground activities. He managed to get them a release warrant, after bribing a number of officials, yet, they were still traumatized by their imprisonment.

The tramp turned out to be Józef Roman  a Jewish Bundist, and Ryszard organized a fake identity card for him under the false surname of Grotte, which he still uses today. The name commemorates general Grot-Rowecki.

Shortly after, the Witkowskis sheltered Bronisław Miodowski, whom rebels had rescued from Gęsiówka concentration camp. Aniela, took care of Bronisław’s wounded brother Józef, and by pretending to be his relative, she was able to bring him food to the hospital. She also persuaded the doctors not to amputate his leg.

The Witkowskis prepared a hiding place for the Jews. Fortunately, they only had to use it once, after the war, when Ryszard buried his rifle there.

“It’s still there until this day. Probably eaten by rust. What a pity. Well, maybe not.”

The Witkowski’s Jewish friends left Poland. The Miodowskis left in 1948, and as tailors they both continued to work abroad in their profession. They died a couple of years ago. Józef Grotte left in 1968 as a result of the antisemitic campaign. He now lives in Frankfurt am Main.

Other Stories of Rescue in the Area

Bibliography

  • Kaczmarek Olga, Interview with Ryszard Witkowski, 1.01.2009
  • Gutman Israel red. nacz., Księga Sprawiedliwych wśród Narodów Świata, Ratujący Żydów podczas Holocaustu, Kraków 2009