Story of rescue

enlarge map

The Story of Stefania Cendrowska

During the occupation, Stefania Cendrowska first lived in Warsaw and then on ul. Nawrot in Łódż. In February 1943, Stefania Cendrowska cared for six-year-old Jutta Szabason(now Judith Cohen), whose parents from Hettstedt in Saxony, had perished in the Falenice. Stefania surrounded the little girl with heartfelt care.

Jutta's father was a Polish Jew who had settled in Germany after World War I. He opened a shoestore in Hettstedt. In 1921, he married Mina (Emma Anna), who then converted to Judaism. In the autumn of 1938, Moritz Szabason, together with his family, was forced to move to Poland. In 1940, all three found themselves in the Falenice ghetto which had been established at the end of October 1940. The family lived in poverty. On several occasions, Moritz turned for help to Joint (the American Joint Distribution Committee), whose representatives continued to be active in occupied Poland. 

Jutta's parents were probably already murdered in 1940. It is unknown what happened later to the girl. She was probably cared for by one of her relatives, among them was Johanna Schmukler. On 20th August 1942, the remaining Jews in the Falenice ghetto were transported to the Treblinka extermination camp. Jutta had probably been smuggled out of the ghetto earlier. 

Under Stefania's care, Jutta was given the name "Jadwiga" and was treated like one of the family. She also attended school. In October 1946, Coordination representatives, who were searching for Jewish child Holocaust survivors, asked Stefania to turn the child over to them. The separation was painful, not only for the little girl, but also for her carer. Stefania moved to Kraków, where she cared for her nephews and completed a camp leader's course. Jutta, however, found herself in a Jewish orphanage in Łódż on ul. Piotrowskiej and then in Bielawa in Dolny Śląsk. She badly missed her foster mother and, on numerous occasions, tried to run away from her care facility. She was later taken to an orphanage in France, in Les Choux and, in 1949, she found herslf in Israel where she was adopted by a family in Kibbutz Mizrach.

She never saw Stefani again. Stefania wrote to her, sending her Polish books and photgraphs.

In Israel Jutta established a family and raised three children. After she retired, she came to Poland to search for what happened to her parents and to her carer.

In 2013, the Yad Vashem Institute honoured Stefania Cendrowska with the title of Righteous Among the Nations.