The Zielinski Family

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The story of the Zieliński family

During World War II, Zbigniew and Kazimiera Zieliński with their son Ryszard lived at the House of Pocztowa Kasa Oszczędności at 70 Filtrowa Street in the Warsaw district of Ochota. From 1943, they provided help for Jews – the Berek family.


In 1943 he was 12. “One day my father said he had friends in the ghetto and that we had to help them. And so, Kazimierz Berek and his wife Paulina came to us. Kazimierz’s two brothers and their families managed to find havens not far from Narutowicz Square, where we lived at the time. I carried food to their hiding places”.

Bereks had a daughter, Jasia, whom they’d placed at Ogrodowa Street. “She was my age; we rather liked each other”, he said.

When their hiding place was discovered

“Aunt Paulina had the so called ‘good looks’, but it wasn’t as easy with Kazimierz”.

They built a hideout: the windowsill would slide out on rails and there was room for one person between the thick walls.

It came very handy one day in the summer. Here I am with aunt Paulina and Kazimierz, and she says: “Do you hear some stomping in the yard? Kazik, get in”. And then – hammering at the door. They were looking for my father. But if they had stumble upon Kazimierz, we would have been gonners.

On 1 August 1944 father was seriously wounded. Several days later Germans came in to the house. They were yelling “Raus!” but speaking Russian between themselves.

Carrying father on a stretcher, we made it to the Zachodni Station. They took us to Pruszków and we got separated. I was desperately circling in the crowd, when suddenly I saw auntie Paulina. Dear Lord, I felt it was like all the heavens smiling down on me! Someone familiar, someone close to me! I jumped between that swarm like a wild animal, and grabbed auntie’s hand: ‘I won’t let go ever!’ And actually this is where the story starts again. She survived because of my being there, and I survived because of hers.

Both mom and dad survived as well, and Kazimierz along with his daughter Jasia were also found. The others died in the Warsaw Uprising.

On 26 May 1999, the Yad Vashem Institute in Jerusalem honoured Zbigniew and Kazimiera Zieliński and their son Ryszard with the title of Righteous Among the Nations.

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Bibliography

  • Gutman Israel red. nacz., Księga Sprawiedliwych wśród Narodów Świata, Ratujący Żydów podczas Holocaustu, Kraków 2009
  • Załuska Anna, Interview with Ryszard Zieliński, 14.03.2008
  • Łukasz Kamiński, Interview with Ryszard Zieliński, Warsaw 11.01.2016