Story of rescue

enlarge map

Gallery

Photos: 1

The story of Wanda Krahelska-Filipowiczowa

She was born on 15th December 1886 in Sawiejka, Belarus. Her father, Aleksander Dominik Krahelski, a participant in the January Uprising,  owned an estate in Mazurka. Her mother Jadwiga (nee Jerzykowicz) was a housewife. Wanda had two sisters, Jadwiga and Maria, as well as a brother Jan. After completing their own education, Wanda and Maria established a secret school for children on the family's estate.

As a twenty-year-old, following the suicide of her fiancee, a member of the PPS Fighting Organisation, Wanda herself joined it. In the beginning, she helped to distribute leaflets, smuggle underground pamphlets and print material for Belarussian socialists. Later, she smuggled weapons.

Then, also in 1906, she took part in preparing for an attack on the Warsaw Governor-General Gieorgij Skałon. The operation was uncovered by the Tsarist guards, but Krahelska was warned by the police and avoided arrest. The failure of the first operation did not dissuade her from participating in an attempted assassination on Skołon. Krahelska's task, and that of her two companions, was to throw three bombs from the balcony of a flat, which they had rented, onto Natolińska Street as the Governor-General travelled past. The attack was, again, unsuccessful with only the Governor's guard being wounded. The perpetrators managed to flee from the site of the attack.

Krahelska left for Galicia, first to Lwów and then later to Kraków. Tracked down and threatened with arrest, she entered into a fictitious marriage, thanks to which she gained Austrian citizenship. It was supposed to formally grant her safety while staying in Kraków. However, she was arrested shortly afterwards. They wanted to send her back to the Congress Kingdom of Poland. It was only as the result of appeals by Polish members of the Austrian parliament and of a decision at the Austrian Cassation Tribunal (High Court of Appeal), that she remained in Galicia, but ended up in the District Court in Wadowice. The case lasted two days, in February 1908, and ended with her acquital, despite the fact that she admitted taking part in the attack.

Following these events, Wanda Krahelska withdrew from political life. She undertook studies at the School of FIne Arts at the Jagiellonian University in Kraków. In 1911, she left for Florence to continue her studies in graphic art. Together with her husband, Tytus Filipowicz, a PPS activist, in Italy she represented Komisja Tymczasowa Skonfederowanych Stronnictw Niepodległościowych (Temporary Commission of Confederated Independence Parties). In 1915, she returned to Kraków. For a year, she worked with the Naczelny Komitet Narodowy (Supreme National Committee), resigning from this job for political reasons.

After 1918, she was active in social welfare activiies, helping for poor children and orphans, and took an active role in the work of the PPS. In 1920, her husband, as Chairman of the Misjia Specjalna na Kaukaz Południowy (Special Mission to the South Caucasus), ended up in Soviet captivity. She did all she could to have him freed. She even asked, among others, Józef Piłsudski and Lenin to intercede. Tytus Filipowicz returned to Poland only, in 1921, after the signing of the Treaty of Riga. Together they left for FInland, after which they lived in Belgium and, from 1929, in the United States, where Filipowicz held the post of ambassador.

Following their divorce in 1932, Krahelska-Filipowiczowa took a position with the Polish Telegraphic Agency. She was also involved in working with various communal organisatiions, including the Związek Pracy Obywatelskiej Kobiet (Civic Labour Union of Women), the Polskie Zjednoczenie Kobiet Pracujących (Polish Union of Working Women) and the Towarzystwo Przyjaciół Artystycznego Rękodzieła (Society of Friends of Artistic Handicrafts). In 1935, she began publishing "Arkady" (Arches), a prestigious arts magazine, of which she was the founder.

World War II

During the War, under the pseudonym of "Alina", Wanda Krahelska-Filipowiczowa became active in the underground. Above all, her work involved helping the Jewish population, continuing the activity she had already begun in 1938, when she financially supported Jewish refugees, holding Polish citizenship, who had been forced to leave Germany.

Together with Zofia Kossak, she urged the leadership of the Delegatura Rządu na Kraj (Government Delegation for Poland) to establish an organisation to support Jews. To this end, they held discussions with the Polish Underground State's Government Delegate, Jan Piekałkiewicz, the Director of the Department of Internal Affairs, Leopold Rutkowski and the Director of the Department of Social Welfare, Jan Stanisław Jankowski. The effect of their efforts was that, on 27th September 1942, the Tymczasowy Komitet Pomocy Żydom im. Konrada Żegoty (Temporary Konrad Żegota Committee to Aid Jews) was established..

Years later, Władysław Bartoszewski who, as part of the Front Odrodzenia Polski (Front of Polish Revival), worked in the Committee, recalled their first meeting:

I first met Mrs Filipowiczowa in Zofia Kossak's underground apartment at 14 Radna Street, at the aged care home run by the Zgromadzenia Księży Misjonarzy (Assembly of Missionary Priests). That home fsupported itself through a large, mechanical laundry which served various, German institutions. It was like this. Wehrmacht trucks would arrive at the building loaded with laundry. In that environment, the underground bloomed, I'd even say it raged. (…) Returning to Mrs Filipowiczowa, when I met her, she was more than fifty years old, maybe closer to sixty. (…) She came from a circle of left-wing, socialist, landed gentry. Just like Zofia Kossak, she had great contacts within Catholic circles, as well as within the Home Army (AK). So, this way, Wanda Krahelska-Filipowiczowa could count on support from the Stronnictwo Demokratycznego (Democratic Front), the PPS-WRN, the left-wing Piłsudski-ites. From the moment that I became acquainted with matters regarding helping Jews, both ladies managed to achieve many, important organisational initiatives. They had already rescued a group of children from ghettos.

After the winding-up of the Tymczasowy Komitet Pomocy Żydom im. Konrada Żegoty (Temporary Konrad Żegota Committee to Aid Jews), and the establishment, on 4th December 1942, of  "Żegota" Rada Pomocy Żydom (The Council to Aid Jews), Krahelska-Filipowicz and Zofia Kossak-Szczucka did not become part of the new organisation but, as part of the Związek Syndykalistów Polskich (Union of Polish Synicalists), she acted as an intermediary for obtaining subsidies from the RPŻ, to which she handed over sixty Warsaw charges.

Outside the Polish underground structure, Wanda Krahelska-Filipowiczowa also organised help for Jews, mainly escapees from the Warsaw Ghetto. She searched for hiding-places for them and organised "Aryan papers". In 1942, following the liquidation of the Warsaw Ghetto, she hid Dorota Bogucka with her friend Józef Kornecki. She also cared for Felicja, the widow of Szymon Aszkenazy (who died in 1941). She helped the Rosenberg family from Łódż, as well as Szwarc, a female doctor who had fled from the Umschlagplatz in 1942.

After World War II

Following the end of the War, Krahelska-Filipowiczowa returned to work as a journalist. In 1945, she began the monthly "Skarpa Warszawska" (The Warsaw Escarpment) , later renamed to "Stolica" (Capital). In 1956, she was a contributor to the magazine Projekt. At the same time, she continued to work professionally, from 1945 for the Propaganda Department of the Capital Rebuilding Bureau,  from 1947 in the Central Administration of Graphic Arts and Exhibitions of the Ministry of Culture and Arts, and from 1950 in the Department of Artistic Creation (as head of the Department). From 1958, for the next seven years, she worked for the Wspólna Sprawa Cooperative of Disabled and Retired Teachers in Warsaw. She retired in 1965.

She died in 1968, One year earlier, she had been honoured with the title of Righteous Among the Nations.

Other Stories of Rescue in the Area

Bibliography

  • Archiwum Yad Vashem, Dział Sprawiedliwych wśród Narodów Świata, sygn. 332
  • Bartoszewski Władysław, Lewinówna Zofia, Ten jest z ojczyzny mojej, Warszawa 2007
    This publication consists of 3 parts: monographic outline of the issue of aid given to the Jews; collection of German and Polish documents concerning the histories of Jews and the aid given to them; collection of the post-war reports created by Poles and Jews about the aid.
  • Komar Michał, Władysław Bartoszewski. Wywiad rzeka, Warszawa 2006
  • Prekerowa Teresa, Konspiracyjna Rada Pomocy Żydom w Warszawie 1942-1945, Warszawa 1982
    A monograph concerning the Council to Aid Jews, an organization operating during the war in the Government Delegation for Poland and providing help to Jews, especially those hiding on “the Aryan side”.