Fryderyka Godlewicz (Shulamit Carmi)

Fryderyka Godlewicz was born in Gdynia on 3 October 1937. Her parents, Szlomo (born in 1911) and Cypra (nee Gerszon, born in 1907) Godlewicz had a store with bicycle and motorcycle parts in Gdynia. They spoke Polish at home.

In September 1939, soon after the outbreak of the war, the Godlewiczs fled Gdynia and settled near Warsaw. Fryderyka does not remember whether it was Wawer or Piaseczno.

In Warsaw, Szlomo opened a store with bicycle parts that was registered under the name of his Polish business partner. In fall 1940, the Godlewicz family was forced to move into the Warsaw ghetto.

Their other family members: Fryderyka’s maternal grandparents (the Gerszons), her aunts, and uncle Natan, came to the Warsaw ghetto from Poznań. After spending some time in the ghetto, and soon after the death of Fryderyka’s grandmother Karola Gerszon, Fryderyka’s uncle Natan arranged for “Aryan papers” for the entire family. Their new last name was Piasecki. Most of the family members had left the ghetto. Natan, together with his father Baruch Gerszon, remained in the ghetto, where they died.

The Godlewiczs, now Piaseckis, settled again near Warsaw (in a different locality than before), while Fryderyka’s aunt Leosia (her mother’s sister) settled in Warsaw’s Grochów district with her husband Dawid Hofrung. Szlomo (then Zdzisław) returned to work in a store in Warsaw. Everyday, he commuted to work by train.

The Piasecki family endured an encounter with informants in their apartment. They had to bribe the intruders with a considerable amount of money. It was necessary for the Piaseckis to find a new place to live. At that time, in 1942, Szlomo was accidentally shot at the railway station. Cypra found him in a hospital in Warsaw. When she went to visit her husband for the second time, a blackmailer stopped her on the street, robbed her, and denounced her. Cypra never returned.

Five-year-old Fryderyka (then Franciszka Piasecka) moved in with her neighbors. Her father, who walked with a cane and limped heavily after the accident, often visited his daughter. After some time he stopped coming, but packages from him kept arriving. It was only much later that Fryderyka found out that at that time her father was no longer alive, and that her aunt Leosia was the one sending the packages.

After a few months, the Piaseckis’ former neighbors gave the child away to two women, who lived in the basement of the house. One of these women was a prostitute.

The girl was taken from there by her uncle Dawid, Leosia’s husband. He appealed to the RGO (Rada Główna Opiekuńcza or Main Welfare Council) to provide help for the child. He introduced her as an orphan of a political prisoner.

At first, no one wanted to assume care over the girl. Eventually, an RGO volunteer, Katarzyna Domańska, took in the child. Together with her husband Marian and their daughter Lila, she made the decision to accept the child, although Katarzyna did not even know what the child looked like. Fryderyka had red hair and a visibly Semitic appearance. Katarzyna quickly realized the girl was Jewish, and despite that she took her home. A hairdresser, who was Katarzyna’s acquaintance, colored the girl’s hair black.

Her stay with the Domańskis was a positive experience for the girl. The family, who called the girl Ania, cared for the child fondly. It was eighteen-year-old Lila who mainly took care of the child. She played with Ania, bathed her, went for walks with her, and taught her to read and write.

The Domański family lived in Dolny Mokotów, which at that time was on the periphery of Warsaw. It was impossible to hide the child’s presence from the neighbors in the long run. Marian Domański, who enjoyed general respect among his neighbors, stated that he took in a Jewish orphan and that he counted on his neighbors’ help in keeping this fact a secret. Most likely the family was denounced. One day, two blue policemen came to the Domańskis’ house searching for the Jewish girl in hiding. Mrs. Domańska showed the policemen the girl’s birth certificate. The policemen, having peeked into the pots with dinner leftovers, concluded that the household was a poor one, and that demanding a ransom would be pointless. And they left.

On the day of the outbreak of the Warsaw Uprising, Mr. Domański and Lila had left the house, while Katarzyna and Anna stayed behind. Expelled from Warsaw together with the rest of the population, they ended up in a camp in Pruszków. Ania’s red hair, which until then was constantly colored black, began to grow out. Fearing exposure, Mrs. Domańska cut Ania’s hair short.

Incidentally, they met Lila in their barrack in the Pruszków camp. After being deported from the camp, the three of them ended up in the village of Sadkowice near Nowe Miasto on the river of Pilica. After liberation they returned to Warsaw. Domańskis’ house was destroyed, so they settled in a different house on 12 Zagórna Street.

After the war, Mrs. Domańska revealed to Ania that her parents, whom the girl was constantly waiting for, were dead. She also told the girl about her Jewish origin. Having heard the news, Ania suffered a breakdown. Two misfortunes at the same time – she no longer had parents, and she would go to hell, because “Jews went to hell.”

Dawid Hofrung, Ania’s uncle, found the girl on Zagórna Street. After some time, he came there again, showing up when the Domańskis were not at home. He was in a hurry to catch the train, and with the Domańskis nowhere near in sight, he took Ania with him to Chorzów. He left a letter, which, due to unknown reasons, never reached the Domańskis. Contact with the Polish family broke off. For many years, the uncle resisted Ania’s attempts to contact the Domańskis.

In 1950, the Hofrungs adopted Ania, and soon after all of them left to Israel. Ania lived in a kibbutz, where she attended school. She finished high school, and then attended the Fine Arts Academy in Jerusalem. She led therapy through art. In Israel, she assumed the name Shulamit.

In 1961, she married Israel Carmi, a doctor of physics. They live in Tel Aviv. They have three children and six grandchildren.

Shulamit has longed for the Domańskis all her life. The ties between her and her Polish caretakers were so strong that the women searched for each other all their lives. Shulamit came to Poland several times to search for Lila. Years later, it turned out that Lila has also searched for Ania. They found each other only when Lila was 86 years old, in August 2011, one year even before her death.

Leokadia (Lila) Pauzewicz, nee Domańska, received the title Righteous Among the Nations award in May 2012 for herself and on behalf of her parents.

Compiled by Jadwiga Rytlowa and Janina Goldhar, based on the account given by Shulamit Carmi in March 2013 in Tel Aviv.

Translation: Joanna Sliwa