Josef Grotte photograph collection
Document | Accession Number: 2003.24.1
The photographs consist of images of Josef Grotte and his family before and during the Holocaust.
- Document Creator
- Josef Grotte
Josef Grotte (born Feliks (Felek) Roman) was born in Czestochowa. Poland on August 11, 1923 to Abram and Leja Biber Roman. His older brother, Leon Roman, was born in 1916 and his younger sister, Rita, was born in 1929. The Roman family resided on 8 I-st Aleja in Czestochowa. Abram Roman owned a bus line serving the route from Czestochowa to Praszka, on the German-Polish border. In 1935 the Roman family moved to Sosnowiec as a result of economic difficulties relating to their business. They joined Abram’s paternal uncle, Boris Roman. They lived on 6 Raclawicka Street in Sosnowiec. After about a year Abram found employment as a manager of the Haftke sawmill in Wozniki in the Silesia region. After a year they returned to Sosnowiec.
Leon Roman served in the Polish Army and he was wounded during the German invasion of Poland. Felek fled eastward and reached Nowy Ksiadz, where he was caught by the Germans, but he managed to escape and returned to Sosnowiec. Felek was active in the Polish Socialist party and through his contacts and help from a school friend Bronislaw Sliwa he obtained his documents, which included an identification card and a membership card for the labor unions. Felek’s high school teacher, Mr. Konrad Potyka, accompanied him to Warsaw in December 1939. Mr. Potyka later perished in Auschwitz. In Warsaw, Felek lived for a few months with the Gutkowski family in the Czerniakow district of town.
At the end of 1940, Felek married Maria Gwarek. They married in Anin, near Warsaw, in a church. At the same time Felek met Mr. Aleksy Bien, who served as mayor of Sosnowiec before the war and was a member of the Polish Sejm on behalf of the Polish Socialist Party. He arranged for Felek to work for the underground organization WRN (Wolnosc, Rownosc, Niepodleglosc – Freedom, Equality and Independence) in a unit, which produced false papers. At that time Felek’s false name was Jozef Domagala. His brother, Leon Roman was imprisoned in the Checiny ghetto together with his wife and small daughter. Felek placed his niece in an orphanage on Smolna Street in Warsaw. She and all the children were murdered during the Warsaw uprising in August 1944.
Felek and his wife, Maria, hid Leon in their apartment, without Maria’s knowledge that Leon was her brother-in-law. In March 1943 both brothers were arrested by the Gestapo and imprisoned in the Pawiak prison. Felek was imprisoned as a Pole, a Socialist Party activist, under the name of Jozef Grotte. His brother was arrested as a Jew and kept with the other Jews in prison. Felek was brutally interrogated by the Gestapo and in May 1943 he admitted that he is Jewish. In July 1944 the Jewish prisoners completed digging of a tunnel and all escaped the prison, which was located in the middle of the ruins of the Warsaw ghetto. With help of Zosia Wysocka, member of the Zegota, Mrs. Warman and Dr. Ala Margulis, they were transferred to the Okecie airfield and hid in a bunker. When the Warsaw uprising broke out in August 1944, the bunker was in the German zone and the hiding Jews were trapped. They managed to break out and went to Milanowek, near Warsaw, where they stayed with the Witkowski family until the liberation on January 17, 1945.
Mr. Ryszard Witkowski was awarded a medal of Righteous Among the Nations by Yad Vashem. Felek’s parents, Abram and Leja Roman, as well as his sister Rita were deported in August 1943 from the Srodula ghetto in Sosnowiec, during to the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp, where they were murdered on arrival. After the war, Felek retained his nome de guerre and continued living in Poland as Jozef Grotte. In January 1945 he was mobilized into the Polish Army where he served until 1949. As part of his responsibilities he dealt with the German war crimes on the Polish territory. Jozef Grotte received many medals for his wartime underground activities. In 1950’s Jozef Grotte returned to school to complete his education. He actively participated in construction of big industrial projects in Southern Poland. Jozef and Maria Grotte became parents of Wlodek; unfortunately Maria Grotte died and Jozef remarried. Jozef, Irena and Wlodek Grotte left Poland in 1969 as a result of the anti-Semitic campaign of the Polish government. They settled in Frankfurt, Germany.
- Legal Status
- Permanent Collection
- The photographs were donated to the United States Holocaust Museum in 2003 by Josef Grotte.
- Conditions on Access
- No restrictions on access
- Conditions on Use
- No restrictions on use
Record last modified: 2020-10-02 13:39:31
This page: https://collections.ushmm.org/search/catalog/irn512812