- Walter Taranowicz
- Bozenna M. Urbanowicz-Gilbride
1991 October 14
1 videocassette (VHS) : sound, color ; 1/2 in..
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- Legal Status
- Permanent Collection
- Bozenna M. Urbanowicz-Gilbride conducted the interview with Walter Taranowicz on August 14, 1991 in New York, NY. The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Oral History branch received the tape of the interview from Mrs. Urbanowicz-Gilbride on August 17, 1992. The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Archives received the interview by transfer from the Oral History branch in February 1995.
- Special Collection
The Jeff and Toby Herr Oral History Archive
- Record last modified:
- 2023-11-16 08:09:32
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Also in Bozenna M. Urbanowicz-Gilbride oral history collection
Contains interviews with 16 Polish Holocaust survivors, witnesses, rescuers, and liberators living in Poland
Wanda Biernacka, born in 1919 in Zyrardow, Poland, describes living in Warsaw, Poland, where her father was a railroad worker; her younger sister; attending a school where there were no Jews; coming into contact with Jews in the Polish Socialist Party, which she joined in 1937; meeting the Jonas family at the Siudyla family’s house and being asked to help shelter a Jewish family; the Jonas family consisting of four people, a mother, father, a six year old, and a two year old (Andrzej Jonas); taking care of Andrzej at her house until the end of the war; the older son changing hiding places several times and how she was often the only one who had any contact with him; Mrs. Jonas hiding at her cousin’s home in Zyrardow; all of the family surviving the war; her attempts to help the Szeleszewski family; helping Mrs. Palatynski, the sister of Bronislawa Jonas, and her daughter; helping Mrs. Jona Perec; helping about 11 people, not including those who just needed identity papers; the process of obtaining identity papers from the Department of Vital Records by reusing the files of the deceased; how it took about ten people to make new papers; her estimate that it took about twenty people to save one Jewish person; being aware of the risks involved with helping Jews; the differences between the life of an Aryan verse life in the ghetto; the smuggling of food; seeing the ghetto while going through it on the tram; the delivery of food to the ghetto; and how she received a medal of honor and a certificate from Yad Vashem in 1984. Andrzej Jonas, born in Warsaw on October 28, 1940, describes how Mrs. Wanda Biernacka was his “war mother”; being taken care of by Mrs. Biernacka during the war; how his memory of that time is very limited; his first memory, which was of his family escaping the ghetto; being in a small dark room with his mother; his memory of receiving a toy filled with candy; how his favorite place in Mrs. Biernacka’s house was the kitchen; his memories of one incident when he saw a wounded German soldier in the garden and charged at him with a wooden toy gun calling out “hands up” and the soldier laughing; going back with his mother after the war; meeting his father once in a coffee shop during the war; liberation and Russian officers setting up a headquarters in their building; being friendly with the officers; and learning to sing Russian songs.
Anastazja Brodziak, born in Armenia on December 28, 1915, describes her parents; her family returning to Poland when she was four years old; her Catholic, blue collar family; moving from place to place through the country and eventually they settled down in Volhynia, Ukraine; her father working as a farm laborer; the large Jewish population in Volhynia and never noticing antisemitism in her family or amongst her school friends; her family moving to Warsaw, Poland in 1929; attending a high school where most of the students were Jewish; the harmony between the Jews and Christians; graduating in 1935 from teachers' seminary; working in the Polish White Cross for educational programs with soldiers beginning in 1936; teaching illiterate soldiers basic academic skills; teaching the 21st Infantry Regiment at the Warsaw Citadel; enrolling in an education curriculum at the Free University in Warsaw; marrying a student of the School of Foreign Affairs in April 1939; her husband working at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs then the post office; she and her husband working with the Polish resistance; hiding a Jew named Julian Kulko, who was a refugee from L'viv, Ukraine; moving him to her mother’s home, where he lived until the Warsaw Uprising in 1944; the death of her father and one of her sisters in a train accident in June 1942; moving with her husband to the part of Warsaw called Goclawek; taking in and hiding a couple for a few months; hiding two other Jews for few days as they waited for documents; the Gestapo searching their house and not finding the Jews because they already moved to another hiding place; her experience during the interrogation and being in shock after; giving shelter to a Jewish friend, named Najkruk (false name Michal Jaworski), and his wife and son (Jerzy); staying friends with the Jewish families they helped; taking part in the Warsaw Uprising in 1944; her husband and one of her brothers being killed in the fights in Old City; being sent to a prisoner-of-war camp with her detachment; her job as a courier of the underground army; reporting to Miss Halina Guc, who lived at Miedziana Street in Warsaw, picking up passport photos and personal information about individuals who needed false documents; delivering these documents to another member of the underground at Mala Street; the arrest of Miss Guc in June 1944; avoiding Germans on street cars when she was delivering false documents; being sent to the POW camps in Bergen-Belsen and Oberlangen; being liberated on April 12, 1945 by the 2nd Armored Regiment under General Maczek; being assigned to General Maczek's regiment as an education officer; the roundups and the ghetto in Warsaw; not seeing antisemitism after the war; her numerous Jewish friends; Zofia Jaworska nominating her and her deceased husband as Righteous Gentiles from Yad Vashem in 1984; and going to Jerusalem to plant an olive tree in Yad Vashem in 1986.
Irene Frisch (née Bienstock), born on May 3, 1931 in Drohobycz, Poland (Drohobych, Ukraine), describes her childhood; being the youngest of three children in a prosperous family; the influence their Christian housekeeper (Frania Sobkowa) had on her; the war beginning and living in the ghetto; being sent to live with Frania; celebrating Christmas; many of her Jewish friends not surviving the war; Frania’s small apartment, where there was little room for hiding; hearing about the liquidation of the ghetto; Frania’s efforts to convenience her neighbors that she was not hiding Jews; Frania witnessing a hanging of Polish people who had helped Jews and her reaction; Frania's generosity; being liberated by the Russians; Frania's antisemitic neighbors; being treated poorly by the Russian soldiers; leaving Poland around 1949 or 1950 and going to Israel; the death of her brother during the war; the journey out of Poland; finding their father after the war and listening to his horror stories about the concentration camps he survived; visiting Poland later in life and seeing the camps; living in Legnica, Poland; attending school and experiencing antisemitism from the administration; sending money to Frania and Frania’s reluctance to accept it; immigrating to the United States and keeping in touch with Frania; her sister living in Atlanta, GA; Frania visiting them in New York, NY; and staying in touch with Frania’s niece.
Eugenia Grudzinska (née Yevkieyev), born in Riga, Latvia on December 23, 1912, describes her Polish mother and her father, who was an officer in the Russian Army; getting married in 1937 to a Polish officer, Adam Wisniewski, who was killed in Katyn; her husband being arrested when the Russians entered the country; living Kleck, Poland (Kletsk, Belarus), where the population was split evenly between Tartars and Jews; being helped by Tartars to escape; going to Zambrow, Poland, where she had been raised; going to Ostrow Mazowiecka then Warsaw, Poland; joining a division of the ZWZ (Zwiazek Walki Zbrojnej; Union of Armed Struggle) in 1941; being a courier; her rendezvous points; her apartment being search by Germans in January 1942; betrayal in the organization; being deported to Ravensbrück on May 30, 1942; being in Ravensbrück until November 1943; her work details; being sent to a factory for airplane parts (Neubrandenburg concentration camp); the demographics of the camps; the evacuation of the camp and being abandoned by the guards as they neared the Soviet front; walking to Poland with 14 others; spending five months in Pawiak Prison before she was sent to Ravensbrück; and more details about working with the underground in Warsaw.
Wacław Kołodziejek, a Polish Catholic born in Wola Korycka, Poland, discusses his move to Warsaw, Poland in 1935; his family's good relations with the local Jewish families; overhearing a conversation in a Warsaw park between a Jewish woman who told a Polish woman that the Jews have the big houses and the Poles have the streets, and being upset by this conversation; the German occupation of Poland; working as a messenger in 1940; watching the Germans clear a street that they had bombed; being picked up by the Germans and taken to Auschwitz; seeing the crematorium in Auschwitz; being brutally treated at Auschwitz, and suffering from broken eardrums and a dislocation of his shoulder; escaping selection because he was sent to the hospital with a fever; being experimented on by an SS doctor; an operation that was done on his brain; being sent to Birkenau where he was tattooed on his chest; mending socks at Birkenau; being sent to Mauthausen Gusen; working in construction and in the building of Messerschmitt products; liberation in 1945; spending time in a US Army hospital; and immigrating to the United States in 1947.
Henryk Lazowski, born on April 27, 1920, in Kraków, Poland, describes his parents; moving to Dabrowa Tarnowska, Poland in 1930; volunteering in the Army in September 1939; fighting under the command of his older brother; his brother being captured as a prisoner of war on September 21, 1939; the defeat of the Polish army and going with a group towards the east; encountering Jewish refugees who gave them coats; returning home; joining the Underground Army; being arrested by a German patrol in Mielec, Poland because he was on the street after curfew; being sent to a labor camp in Mielec; being a turner and working in an aircraft plant for two months; escaping from the camp during a heavy snowstorm on his way from work to the barracks; going to his grandmother’s home in Radwa, Poland and seeing a childhood friend, Rozia Lezer; returning to Kraków with Rozia; Rozia’s arrest and brief imprisonment; Jews going to the ghetto in Dabrowa Tarnowska and advising people to go into hiding; helping a group from Kraków to escape; his grandmother, Anna Loch, giving shelter to Rozia’s grandmother; immigrating to the United States in 1961; and remaining close friends with Rozia, who also lives in the US.