The Wloczewski Family

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Story of Rescue - The Wloczewski Family

In the spring of 1941, Miriam Szapiro, using false papers under the name of “Maria Zaremba”,  passed through the “green border” from Warsaw to Ciechanów (the Ciechanów regierungsbezirk of East Prussia). She knew no one there. Led by a guide, she knocked on the door of the Włoczewski family.

“She came here with nothing, just as she stood, in a kind of spring coat, hungry and cold”, recalls Zuzanna Ostaszewska (nee Włoczewska).Her parents rented the woman a room. When, after a few months, it came to light that Miriam/Maria was a Jew, Zuzanna’s father wanted to throw her out immediately.

His wife, Marianna, and daughter retained the woman, who was pregnant, until such time as another hiding place could be found for her. They endeavoured to help her, even when she left their home. Zuzanna’s brother, Ryszard Włoczewski, organised a job for Szapiro as a secretary and bookkeeper in the Radusch construction company, where he also worked.

At the beginning of 1942, the woman gave birth to Wiktor, with whom she was pregnant when she arrived in Ciechanów. The War had separated her from her husband. After a year, the little boy died.

Alone and living in constant fear of being denounced, a woman whom she had met at work suppported her. That woman was Danuta Chrzanowska-Szlom. Breaking down, Miriam told her the truth about her origins. Danuta not only did not betray her confidence, but denied rumours circulating round the office that “Maria Zaremba is Jewish”.

At the end of the War, the owner of the Radusch company moved the headquarters to the west. Szapiro left, together with other employees. She survived and emigrated to Israel where she established a new family. She maintained contact with Zuzanna, who remained in Ciechanów. When Danuta moved there following the death of her husband in 1988, Miriam also established contact with her. In 1995, she visited both women.