Story of rescue

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The Story of the Tomaszewicz Family

During World War II,  Wincenty and Zofia Tomaszewicz extended help to their pre-War friends from Łódż, Prof. Anna Margolis and her daughter Alinia, the future wife of Marek Edelman. They had managed to get out of the Warsaw ghetto. The Tomaszewicz couple lived in Warsaw, on ul. Twarda. They had escaped from Łódż, where Wincenty was under threat of being arrested by the Gestapo.


Wincenty Tomaszewicz graduated in medicine at Moscow University. His first job was as district doctor in the Tambowski Governate. During World War I, he accepted the position of Chief Doctor at the governate hospital in Jekaterynosław in Ukraine. A year later, he found himself as one of the organisers of the university in that same place (today Dnieper). It was there, also, that he met his future wife, Zofia Partnoja, who was also a doctor.

At the end of July 1922, the Tomaszewicz couple decided to leave for Poland. After several unsuccessful attempts at employment at the University of Warsaw, he took a job as a surgeon at a hospital in Grudziadz. He then accepted the offer of the position as Deputy Chief Physician of the Łódż Health Fund (Kasa Chorych), where he began working at the beginning of April 1925, becoming a significant co-organiser of public medicine in Łódż. He operated in clinics and hospitals and also became a teacher. In 1938, he became a member of the local Organising Committee of the Łódż Medical University and was also a member of the City Council. During that time, Zofia worked in many health care facilities, among them a youth clinic, as a hygienist in schools and in an outpatient clinic.

Help for Anna and Alina Margolis

On 9th November 1939, Wincenty was arrested as a hostage, along with fifty other Łódż residents. This was as part of the local Gestapo's repressive activities against "the intellectualisation of Litzmannstadt". Those arrested were placed into a temporary camp in the factory of Michał Glazer in Radogoszcz, at ul. Krakowska 55 (today Liściasta 17). For some unknown reason, Wincenty was separated from that group which was shot, on 12th November 1939, in the Lućmierskie forests. During his stay in the camp, he served as a camp doctor. From there, along with other prisoners, in January 1940, he was moved to the factory owned by Samuel Abbe and was released on 16th January 1940. Fearing further repression, following his release, with his family he left Łódż, which had been incorporated into the Third Reich, and went to Warsaw which was within the General Government. There, under a false name, he

worked as a labourer in a metalware store.

In January 1943, their old friend Dr Anna Margolis arrived at the Tomaszewicz apartment, on ul. Twarda, asking for help. She was an activist in the Universal Jewish Workers' Union (the Bund). In the Warsaw ghetto, she was head of the tuberculosis ward of the Berson and Bauman Children's Hospital. Together with her daughter Alina, she stayed for several weeks with the Tomaszewicz family, after which both returned to the ghetto. They crossed over to the "Aryan side" once more prior to the outbreak of the ghetto uprising, although Alina later took part in the fighting as a liaison officer of the Jewish Fighting Organisation (ŻOB). She also took part in the Warsaw Uprising.

After the War

After World War II, Wincent Tomaszewicz became one of the founders of the University of Łódż and Dean of that university's Faculty of Medicine. He then organised the Medical Academy in Łódż, as well as an academic-research centre for peripheral vascular diseases in Lądek-Zdrój. He was active in the Democratic Party and was a member of the Presidium of the National Civic Council in Łódż.

After the War, Alina Margolis became a pediatrician and married Marek Edelman. Following the antisemitic campaign of March 1968, with her children, she left for France. She became active with the Doctors Without Borders organisation and co-founded the Doctors of the World organisation. She worked at helping Vietnamese refugees, as well as working in hospitals in El Salvador, Chad, Afghanistan and Bosnia-Herzegovina. She co-founded the French-Polish SOS Aide aux Malades Polonais organisation (Help for the Sick in Poland), the Nobody's Children Foundation and the Bureau for Social Initiatives. On 6th April 1998, at the request of children, she became a Knight of the Order of the Smile. Since 2011, people who help children have been awarded with the Alina Margolis-Edelman Prize.

On 23rd October 2017, the Yad Vashem Institute in Jerusalem honoured Wincenty and Zofia Tomaszewicz with the title of Righteous Among the Nations.

Other Stories of Rescue in the Area

Bibliography

  • Archiwum Ambasady Izraela w Polsce, Materiały z ceremonii uhonorowania Sprawiedliwych w Łodzi, 29.08.2019