A letter from Mr Jerzy Raczkowski, who was hiding professor Jerzy Remer

We publish below a letter received from Mr. Jan Raczkowski from Gladstone, USA (the Museum is in the possession of the exact address) describing the story of hiding professor Jerzy Remer and his wife in Miedzeszyn near Warsaw during the Nazi Occupation of Poland. The information about professor Remer’s activity (including the after-war activity) can be found on the following websites:

www.culture.pl/pl/culture/artykuly/wy_wy_remer_25_rocznica_smierci_torun and pl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jerzy_Remer

Dear Sir or Madam,

Having read in New York some information about the website of the Righteous Among the Nations, published in the “Nowy Dziennik” newspaper on November 25, 2008, I decided to let you know that during the Nazi Occupation of Poland we were hiding a married Jewish couple on the first floor of our house (Miedzeszyn, Rejowiecka 8, a photo is attached. The husband was a professor of art and culture history, Jerzy Remer, PhD. He worked in Warsaw in a consignment shop, in which he evaluated and authenticated paintings and other pieces of art. The shop had some privileges as the main customers were German. She — a slim, short brunette with typical Jewish features — never left the house. She told my mother a lot about being a cousin of the richest family in the world, who lived in New York, and about dancing the polonaise with President Mościcki at government parties. President Mościcki was then in the United States trying to acquire loan support for Poland. There were no luxuries in our house. I was a 13-year-old-boy and my cores were to bring water upstairs, take out the faeces, start the fire in the furnace, go to the narrow-gauge railway station to pick up the professor in the evenings and so on.

I have to add that it was a period of great poverty and even if the professor was paying us something, it couldn’t have been much, because we were starving. My father was unemployed. He would not go to Warsaw, because he was afraid of roundups. My mother used to go to a poor village, Zagóźdź ,to help him in the fields and get some potatoes or rye in return. I used a modified meat mincer to mince this rye (illegally) in the basement and then I cooked the so-called “prażucha” [rye noodles]

The professor liked me very much. He did not pay for my help and services but he promised that after the end of the war his family in New York would provide money for my studies at the best school, including housing. The professor wore glasses and his sight was deteriorating. I remember how grateful he was when he brought a carrot and I grated it and squeezed the juice out of it. I would later add water to the leftovers and eat the mixture.

The Remers also lived humbly and in poverty. There was no bathroom or kitchen in the room upstairs. She boiled the water with an electric heater and he brought some ready-made sandwiches. The room looked as if nobody was living there. She never went out, never approached the window, never even went downstairs, so that no stranger would see her. There was a hiding place next to the room which she could use in case of danger.

We were all at risk of being punished by death for hiding Jews. I have a brother who is two years older and sister who is one year younger than me. We promised that we would not say a word to anyone. We were not even allowed to talk among ourselves about hiding the couple.

Our house was about one kilometer from the railway route from Warsaw to the south of the country, to places such as the concentration camp in Auschwitz. Miedzeszyn had many forests and there was a highway along the railway where some Jews had summer houses. The next station was Falenica where many Jews had lived. The engine drivers slowed down and young Jews jumped off the night trains and hid in the bushes. Three Germans in a sidecar would drive around on the highway catching the fugitives. I would deliberately walk along the highway and sometimes a Jew would jump out of the bushes and ask if anyone was hiding Jews nearby and if I could take them there. I was afraid of pr — for helping Jews there was a punishment of death or, at best, a concentration camp — so I was very careful not to disclose the hiding places. I took only three or four fugitives (I don‘t remember the exact number) to the village and showed them Kubajek’s house from the distance, because I knew he was hiding Jewish people. It was not difficult to know if a person was really a fugitive from a train (I would play detective), because the people who would jump from the train would land on stones and usually had some cuts and their clothes were torn.

After the Nazi occupation ended, I found out that Jerzy Remer was probably a professor at the University of Toruń/. I wanted to verify that and visit him but my father did not let me. He said that one should not seel any reward for their help.

In an underground Scout association I was told that everyone on Earth had a right to live, regardless of their race and belief. The Germans were our main enemy and the enemy of our enemy was our ally. My family did not get in touch with the Remers after the war. As far as I know, nobody from our family was on the list of the Righteous Among the Nations.

Best regards,
Jan Raczkowski
Gladstone, Virginia, USA