The Zlotkowski Family

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Story of Rescue - The Zlotkowski Family

Before the war Julia Złotkowska and Stanisław Złotkowski were living in the village of Złotki-Przeczki (currently in the Masovian Vovivdeship, in Ostrów poviat, Boguty-Pianki gmina). They had eight children.

The Złotkowskis owned an eight-hectare farm and kept cattle and pigs. Their encounters with Jews mostly took place at the marketplace in the nearby Ciechanowiec.

In 1942, at the time of the liquidation of the Ciechanowiec ghetto, seven of the local Jews came to the Złotkowskis asking them for shelter. Henryk, only 10 at the time, cannot recall much: “Do I know how they came …? Well, they came, ‘cause if not, the Germans would shoot them…” His wife supplies: “they asked my husband’s father to let them stay a couple of days. And he agreed. And once he agreed for a couple of days, it stretched out and they stayed till the end.”

Henryk remembers that “Father took [them]… But nobody knew about it, not the neighbors, nobody. ‘Cos if they did? … that’d be the end. One denunciation and they’re done for.”

The Złotkowskis saved the lives of the two Ptaszek sisters: Roza (Rose) and Ida, as well as Roza’s husband, their three children, and her uncle (or brother, according to Henryk Złotkowski) Wolf. The rescued were hidden in the Złotkowski farmstead, “in the hay on the attic of the pigsty,” until the arrival of the Soviet forces and the liberation.

Stanisław Złotkowski was the only one to bring them food. Henryk recalls: “I remember, father was peeling potatoes … slowly-like… They didn’t have much there … but they did survive, and that was the point.”

After the war

After the liberation the rescued moved to Ciechanowiec, and later to Białystok, since, as Henryk underlines, the times were difficult, with various “partisans” or marauders operating in the area, and living in the town meant a better chance of survival.

After the war the Złotkowskis maintained quite warm contacts with Ida and her husband. Henryk was staying with them for the 10-year period of his education in Białystok. The childless couple treated him like their own son.

In 1962 Ida and her husband left for the US. This was after Henryk’s wedding, and during the time he and his wife were expecting their first child. Afterwards Ida invited Złotkowskis to visit her in the US on many occasions, but they were refused a visa for years.

It was only in 1995, after the death of Ida Ptaszek, that Henryk Złotkowski and his wife went to the States. Initially they were staying with her husband, and later with her nephew, Lejb – son of Roza Ptaszek; they stayed there for several years, helping Lejb’s daughter, Debbi, raise her own children. The couple spent nearly 5 years together in the US. Barbara visited America once again, some time later.

The Righteous

Henryk Złotkowski first applied for awarding his family the Righteous Among the Nations title after 1989. Roza Chazan submitted a statement to the Yad Vashem. In it, she wrote:

“I testify under oath that during the World War, during the Nazi occupation of Poland, I was hiding with my husband and three children, my uncle Ptaszek and three other people of Jewish descent at the house of the family of Mr. Stanisław Złotkowski from Złotki near Ciechanowiec…

“During that time the entire Złotkowski family were looking after us and treated us like members of their family, with no discrimination in terms of food or living conditions. We survived the war thanks to this family, who lived under constant threat of Nazi reprisals and in difficult conditions. This family took care of us selflessly, as we had no means of upkeep of our own.”
(The number of rescued in the testimony differs from the number provided in the account of Henryk Złotkowski)

Although Henryk was awarded the diploma and medal in 1994, he only received them during his time in the US. His parents had already passed away by that time and their titles were awarded posthumously.

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Bibliography

  • Gutman Israel red. nacz., Księga Sprawiedliwych wśród Narodów Świata, Ratujący Żydów podczas Holocaustu, Kraków 2009
  • Chojnacka Monika, Interview with Henryk Paweł Złotkowski, 1.03.2009