Searching for Pani M. from Grochów

When my parents, Bala and David Lipstadt, died, they left behind many puzzles. One of the most profound is of the woman who hid them for a year and a half in the cellar of her villa in Grochów, Warsaw.

Along with my family, I want to thank this woman. She risked her life and family to help my parents. I want to find her and her family and express the inexpressible, our deepest, humblest gratitude.

My parent’s lives in Poland before WWII were a mystery to me.  Like so many Holocaust survivors, traumatized, bereft, they spoke little of their lives before the war.  In 2011, I traveled to Warsaw with my nephew Isaac to begin to unravel the secrets.

Starting at the offices of ŻIH (Jewish Historical Institute) in Warsaw I found the post-war registration cards my parents had filled out. From these paper cards I learned the addresses of their pre-war homes.  In the space asking where they survived, my mother wrote the single word, Grochów.  After escaping the Warsaw Ghetto in 1943, my parents were hidden there by a Polish woman whose name I heard as “Pani Mokska”.

In Warsaw I began to ask about the name “Mokska.“  Most Poles looked at me quizzically.  “That is not quite right,” they would say.  It is, however, all I had, and I clung to it until I came upon variations:  Moskwa, Moskwiak. These choices both expand and confuse the possibility of finding Pani Mokska, but I hope someone reading this will recognize her.

These are the few things I remember from my parent’s stories of the woman who sheltered them: 

Pani Mokska had a daughter. 

Her daughter was a librarian.

Pani Mokska was divorced from her husband. 

She was the principal of a high scho