The story of the Włodek family

"Seventy three years have passed since the outbreak of the Warsaw Uprising – a event linked to the fate of my family and that of a young Jewish girl whom my parents sheltered. Over recent years, much has been spoken about Polish-Jewish relations during World War II. For this reason, I have decided to offer this report on the subject. Perhaps that girl, rescued from the Holocaust, or her family, will read it and think warmly about those who saved her".

I was born in 1939. During World War II, I lived with my parents, Sylwester and Janina Włodek, my brother Waldemar and my younger sister Ewa, in Warsaw at 28 Jerozolimskie Avenue, Apt. 2, between Marszałkowska and Bracka Street. We even continued to live there a few years after the War, until the building was demolished in the 1950's.

A few months before the outbreak of the Warsaw Uprising, my father brought home "Marysia", a young Jewish girl, around eighteen years old. From that moment, she became our carer. I don't know her real first name or surname. At that time, my mum was expecting another child, which was born in December 1944.

When, following the collapse of the Warsaw Uprising, we left Warsaw with the civilian population, via the Pruszków (Dulag 12 Pruszków) transit camp, Marysia held the hand of my eighteen-month-old sister Ewa and passed herself off as Ewa's mother. During a prisoner selection, it protected her from being transported for work to Germany and also from certain death should the Germans have discovered that she was Jewish.

We then, together, managed to reach Częstochowa and and then Biała Wielka, a small town near Lelów. There, we lived in the home of the Sołtys (Village Administrator), Tomasz Świątek. Shortly after, the War ended and we went our separate ways. A few years later, my parents received a letter from Belgium in which Marysia let them know that she had survived and in which she thanked them for rescuing her. She did not provide a return address.

I know the story from what my parents told me, from my own recollections and also from what has been told to me by surviving Biała Wielka villagers. Many years ago, I made contact with Lucyna Glinka, grandaughter of Tomasz Świątek, who remembers well the fugitives from Warsaw who, for a few months, lived with her grandfather. Lucyna's aunt also remembers the children's carer. She confirmed my parents' memories that the neighbours were in no doubt as to her Jewish background. Despite the danger, they behaved decently.

My parents and my older brother are no longer alive. Tomasz Świątek, who gave us shelter, passed away long ago. For this reason, I'm attempting to preserve the memory of the courage and large heart of my family, as well as of all those whose names are unknown, but who also played their part in saving Marysia.