The Zak Family

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The Story of the Żak family

“My parents, uncle Czesław, my younger sister and I rescued fourteen people.

"Ambassador Szewach Weiss was also surprised. ‘Where?’ he asked. I told him that it was at plac Grzybowski 1, in Warsaw. He couldn’t believe it”.

In a small room, built in between two apartments, three families were in hiding - the Trefler family, the Grynberg family, as well as Mietek Lipski with his mother.

“Blackmailers came twice. Once, they grabbed Jurek Trefler and took him to the police, but he came back. The second time, on 20th July 1944, on Czesław’s name day, they came again. They hammered on the door at six in the morning. My parents were not home, so uncle Czesław opened the door.

"I was only sixteen. I threw off my night gown and when one of them burst into my room, stark naked, I screamed out, ‘Brute!’ He told me to get dressed.

"I came out in a robe and brazenly asked what was going on. Why were the doors open, close them please, etc. I closed the door to the kitchen. I said that I kept pets there. They became interested – what sort of pets? Rabbits, I said. They asked why. I told them that there was no meat, so I was keeping rabbits. They began joking. One even wanted to date me. Then they went away.”

"They were selling vegetables. Some were sold, the rest were left at home. Dad built a cart with a hidden compartment, supposedly for the scales. We would hide extra food there.”

Even after the War, they did not tell anyone about hiding the Jews. "Sometimes, I wanted to know what our acquaintances thought of the people who did so. They used to say, enviously, 'Such people have it good now, plenty of gold, riches’."

“And there I was, listening to this and realising that I still had to hide what I did. Sadly, there is a lot of antisemitism here. It’s sad, but it’s true”.

Other Stories of Rescue in the Area


  • Archiwum Żydowskiego Instytutu Historycznego, 349, 2330
    Report of Kazimiera Romanek written on 8th of April 1997.
  • Witkowska Agnieszka, Interview with Czesława Żak, 28.03.2008
  • Gutman Israel red. nacz., Księga Sprawiedliwych wśród Narodów Świata, Ratujący Żydów podczas Holocaustu