The Skowronek Family

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The story of the Skowronek Family

During World War II Janina and Stanisław Skowronek and their two daughters, Basia and Hania, lived in Warsaw. Initially, they lived on Łucka Street, and later – at 64 Żelazna Street.

Stanisław worked in the power station, while Janina traded in soap in Hala Mirowska (Mirowska Hall).

The girls usually spent their holidays with her cousin in Biała Rawska, a village lying at the distance of about 70 kilometers south-west from Warsaw. There they met and made friends with a few-year-old Jewish girl named Hania, daughter of Zysla Kuperszmid: “Some kind of bond has developed between us” – recounts Hanna Gałązka.

Zysla worked as a dressmaker, and in the first years of the war she sewed clothes for German women, from whom she received food in return. After the liquidation of the ghetto in Biała Rawska in October 1942, Zysla and Hania escaped to Warsaw. For a long time they could not find any shelter, so in January 1943 they came to the Skowronek family asking for help. However, the family’s apartment on Łucka Street was not suitable as a hiding place: an elder woman lived with the Skowroneks in one room.

Janina suggested that the fugitives stay in the apartment at 64 Żelazna Street, where the Skowronek family were to move within three months. But first, the apartment had to be put into shape as it was in a very bad condition. Throughout this time, each day the family provided Zysla and Hania with food. Eventually, in March 1943 the Skowronek family moved into the apartment to live together with their Jewish friends. “We got on very well with each other” – recollects Hanna. – “There was (…) always a warm soup on the table, there was always somebody at home, somebody who would do laundry, who had time and wanted to do it. Nobody was forced to do anything.”

Zysla and Hania stayed at the apartment on Żelazna Street until September 1944. Together with the Skowronek family they lived through the Warsaw Uprising; together they were deported to the transfer camp in Pruszków. Then the women were transported to Senftenberg, where they worked in the factory manufacturing lamps for the airplanes until the very end of the war. In 1945 they all returned to Biała Rawska.

Stanisław was deported to Oranienburg concentration camp. He survived the war, came back to Biała Rawska and joined his family.

For a certain period of time Zysla and her daughter stayed in the transfer camp in Łódź, then departed for Israel. Straight after her departure, Zysla Kuperszmid lost contact with the Skowronek family. However, in time she renewed the contact – she telephoned, wrote letters, sent packages.

In 1972 Zysla Kuperszmid wrote down her memoirs from the time of the occupation. As a result, the story “Przyjaciółki z ulicy Żelaznej” (“Friends from Żelazna Street”) was published in the Polish language in 2002:

“(…) she described so much heartiness and gave so many facts in this story that it constitutes a sort of gratitude no money could express. We never accepted any money from her. She herself writes in that story that to be with such a family, so much selfless… and the fact that she could survive… it was only together with us” – says Hanna Gałązka.

The Rescued made every effort to ensure that the Skowronek family was awarded the honorary title of Righteous Among the Nations. 

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