The Zakrzewski Family

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Story of Rescue - The Zakrzewski Family

Aniela and Franciszek Zakrzewski were a poor couple from Pińsk. They raised five children. Due to the fact that Franciszek, a labourer, often lost his job due to his leftist views and his instigation of workplace strikes, the Zakrzewski family had to move house many times. In 1937, they moved to Wołomin, to ul. Warszawska, which was mainly inhabitated by Jews. They quickly became friendly with their neighbours, the large Muszkenblat family. Despite their immense poverty, during the occupation, they helped them in many ways.

Shortly after the outbreak of war, Aniela Zakrzewska was diagnosed with cancer and Franciszek, yet again, lost his job. The money which he earned from the production of moonshine and the chopping of wood was insufficient to support a seven-member family. The load fell upon the shoulders of Regina, the eldest of the the children. The girl sold flour, which was smuggled in from the Reich, and bread in Warszaw.

In December 1939, the Muszkenblat family were moved into a ghetto in Sosnówka, near  Wołomin. Their house was located on the border with the “Aryan side”. It was not long before Regina began sneaking through the wires and sharing her meagre rations of food with her former neighbours. She brought them bread and potatoes

Some time before the liquidation of the ghetto in 1942, Paulina and Liliana escaped to the town of Rostki, near Małkinia and hid there. They supported themselves thanks to Pola’s courage and efficiency. She would travel to Warsaw in order to trade food. On the basis of a birth certificate given to her by Regina, she obtained for herself an identity card in the name of “Janina Dyl”.

On the 5th October 1942, the Germans began transporting the Jews out of the ghetto. During the operation, Rachela was deported and later died in Treblinka. Ludwik Muszkenblat was shot. Adela managed to get across to the “Aryan side”. Badly shaken up, she knock on the door of the Zakrzewski family who, without hesitation, offered her refuge. She remained in that hiding place for  few days, but she wanted to link up with her daughters. Regina saw her off on the train to Rostki. Soon the neighbours began to guess the origins of the new resident in the village. Scared by this, she then sent a letter to the Zakrzewski family asking for help. In order to allay the suspicions of the peasants, Regina came to Rostki for a few days as the alleged cousin of Paulina and Liliana. That authenticated the women in the eyes of the village. They remained in Rostki until.

In 1943, during one of her trading trips to Warsaw, Regina was arrested by the Germans in Czyżew. She ended up in a labour camp, and later in prison in Białystok. She was freed due to the intercession of a German, the owner of a glassworks in which her father, Franciszek, was working at that time.

Of the Muszkenblat family, Adela, her two daughters and son, Daniel, survived the War. The women returned from Rostki to Wołomin, and later, together with the Zakrzewski family, moved to Piła. Shortly afterwards, Adela died. Liliana emigrated to the  United States, and Paulina to Israel. Regina was employed by the City Council in Słupsk, where she worked together with her husband. To this day, she maintains close contact with Paulina.

Other Stories of Rescue in the Area

Bibliography

  • Gutman Israel red. nacz., Księga Sprawiedliwych wśród Narodów Świata, Ratujący Żydów podczas Holocaustu, Kraków 2009