The story of Kazimierz Kacprzak’s family

POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews presents a story, by Kazimierz Kacprzak, about how his parents, Jan and Hildegarda Kacprzak, in Warsaw, helped two unknown Jews from the Śląsk Province. During World War II, the family lived at 48 Chłodna Street, close by the ghetto.

In 1943, I was seven years old. I lived with my parents, Jan (1913-1944) and Hildegarda nee Tosta (1916-1969) Kacprzak, in Warsaw at 48 Chłodna Street, apartment 25. My mother came from the Rybnik region. In 1933, she moved to Zielonka near Warsaw, to be with her older sister Wiktoria, who lived there with her children and her husband who was an officer in the Polish Army. Wiktoria spoke fluent German. My father owned a transport company and married my mother in 1935.

In the second half of 1943, my mother’s cousin came to us from the Śląsk Province and told us about the arrest of two of her Jewish friends (a mother and her daughter)1. They had been transported to Warsaw’s Pawiak prison. The cousin really wanted my parents to make an effort to have the two women freed. My mother agreed. I don’t know the details of what happened. I also don’t know the names of the two women. I remember only that, one day, my mother brought the two women to our apartment. They had been released from prison.  They were about forty-five and twenty years old.

I remember well the period of the women’s stay in our apartment. Together with my mother, the older of the two took care of the home. The younger one would often go out which my parents found most disturbing. The women were treated like members of the family. However, due to the danger hanging over us, my father soon began looking for a new place in which they could stay. After a few months, they were taken somewhere near Warsaw where they remained until the outbreak of the Warsaw Uprising. At the time, we didn’t know what happened to them after that.

My father perished during the time of the Uprising. My mother and I managed to leave Warsaw. We would hide in neighbouring towns. After the War ended, we settled in Zielonka with my father’s family. Our apartment in Warsaw was destroyed. A dozen or so years later, the older of the two women located my mother. We then found out that both women had survived the War and were living in Israel. There, the younger one had married the famous conductor Jan Cajmer2. We had no further contact with the women. My mother died in 1969 following a long illness.

I have described the above events of 1943-1944 in the hope that the living will be interested in them. I am convinced that there are many similar stories which as still unknown, a fact which limits our knowledge of those tragic times in which Poland was under German occupation.


Przypisy:

The women probably came from the pre-War Śląsk Province which, during World War II, found itself within the borders of the Third Reich (Górny Śląsk Province). In the years 1939-1940, the majority of Jews living in Górny Śląsk were transported into the General Government or to Zagłębie Dąbrowski, where a ghetto was then established. Sosnowiec, Będzin and Dąbrowa Górnicza had the largest concentrations of Jews in the Katowice region, numbering more than 100,000 people. In the second half of 1942, following the mass deportations of Jews to liquidation camps and following the liquidation of ghettoes outside of Zagłebie, the ghettoes in Będzin and Sosnowiec were the last remaining concentrations of Jews in the Śląsk region. Eventually, they too were liquidated in August 1943 and the remaining Jews were deported to Nazi German camps and to the Auschwitz-Birkenau extermination camp.

2 Jan Cajmer (1911-1974) – a musician and popular conductor in the 1950’s of the Polish Radio Dance Orchestra. He survived World War II in the USSR. He emigrated to Israel from Poland in 1957.