The Wittig Family

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Story of Rescue - The Wittig Family

Halina Wittig’s story could make for a number of film scripts. For example:

It’s 1941, in Szczebrzeszyn, the wedding of Halina and Lech. The bride and groom, as well as most of the guests are members of the Home Army. Forewarned, they flee from the Gestapo to a nearby ghetto. The bride closes the window behind them. A couple of minutes later she is arrested, and after being tortured, she is thrown into Pawiak prison in Warsaw, where she sharesasix-person cell with eighteen women. She does not lose contact with the underground.

“The guards would give me secret notes. They all went through the laundry room. The laundry was a place of underground activity. A place where all the news about everyone was exchanged, what was happening in Poland and where, who got arrested, or transported,” she says.

Or a story like this:

It’s 1942, in a house in Otwock, previously owned by Jews, next to a forest where the Germans do target practice; a secret Home Armyplace. Halina Wittig lives there after she is released from prison. She finds two children by the fence, and together with her husband they wash them, cut their hair, feed them, and put them to bed.

“Next morning I hear knocking on the door and see a street vendor. I could see she was Jewish, though she was hiding under a scarf. ‘Looking for your children, aren’t you,’ I said. And she fainted; out of hunger, we later found out.”

From now on Maria Spielrein spends the nights at the house, her children are there all the time. When they hear strangers coming, they go into a hiding place where the Błyskawica submachine guns are kept. Lech Wittig teaches young people in AK how to use them. They are denounced and the house is searched numerous times. The Germans find nothing.

Ryszard, Aleksandra, and Maria Spielrein survived until the end of the war. After which they left for Australia, but without their father, who was killed when they were escaping from the ghetto.

Other Stories of Rescue in the Area

Bibliography

  • Jonczyk Anna, Interview with Halina Wittig, 4.02.2009
  • Gutman Israel red. nacz., Księga Sprawiedliwych wśród Narodów Świata, Ratujący Żydów podczas Holocaustu, Kraków 2009