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Bronze Krzyz Zaslugi [Cross of Merit] awarded to a Polish midwife for postwar service

Object | Accession Number: 2005.260.4 a-e

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    Bronze Krzyz Zaslugi [Cross of Merit] awarded to a Polish midwife for postwar service

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    Brief Narrative
    Bronze medal with attached ribbon, molded box, and certificate presented to Anna Toronczyk in 1956 by the government of Poland for her exemplary service as a midwife. Anna was living in Łódź, Poland, when the Germans invaded in September 1939. She worked as a midwife in the hospital in the Jewish ghetto until September 1940, when she escaped to the Soviet Union. Her twin sister, Roza Herszenberg, assumed her position in the hospital. Anna was in the Soviet Union until 1946-47, when she was repatriated and able to return to Łódź to be with her family. Roza, her husband Calel, and daughter Salomea escaped the destruction of the ghetto by the Germans in spring 1944 by going into hiding, then obtaining jobs on the crew assigned to stay behind to salvage materials. Following the cleanup, they hid until the city was liberated by Soviet forces in January 1945.
    issue:  1956 July 22
    issue: Warsaw (Poland)
    Credit Line
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of Salomea Kape
    a. center, embossed, stylized : RPL
    e. left side, black ink : POLSKA RZECZPOSPOLITA / LUDOWA / LEGITYMACJA / Nr A-53944 / WARSZAWA / dn. 22 lipca 1956 r. [PEOPLE’S / REPUBLIC OF POLAND / IDENTITY CARD / No. A-53 944 / WARSAW /the dn. July 22, 1956]
    e. right side, black ink : UCHWAŁĄ RADY PAŃSTWA / odznaczony (a) został (a) /Ob. TOROŃCZYK / Anna c.Józefa / BRĄZOWYM / KRZYŻEM / ZASŁUGI / SEKRETARZ / RADY PAŃSTWA / (Stanisłow Skrzeszewski) [RESOLUTION OF THE COUNCIL OF STATE / awarded / Ob. TOROŃCZYK / Anna c.Józefa / BROWN / Cross / of MERIT / SECRETARY / Council of State / (Stanisłow Skrzeszewski)
    e. back page, bottom, black ink : ,,Intrografia” 4 Zam. 70 17 VIII 55. B-6-96588
    e. impressed seal, red stamp signature, printed name, black ink : Stanisłow Skrzeszewski
    Subject: Anna Toronczyk
    Subject: Salomea Kape
    Anna Toronczyk and her twin sister, Roza, were born on January 15, 1901, in Poland. She had a brother, Mel. Both Anna and her sister were nurse/midwives. She may have married a Polish soldier, Mordechai Blinbaum in 1932. In September 1939, after Germany occupied Łódź, Anna was forcibly relocated to the ghetto with the other Jews of the town. She worked as a nurse/midwife in the ghetto hospital. She decided to escape to Soviet territory in the east. Before she left, she told her sister, Roza, that she should assume Anna's position at the hospital, as no one would notice because they looked so much alike. She was in the Soviet Union, until 1946-47. For the last year, she was held in a gulag. Anna was relocated to a displaced person's camp in Germany, and then she returned to Łódź to be with her sister, Roza Herszenberg, and her family. She immigrated to the United States with Roza and her family around 1966. Roza died, age 74, in 1975. Anna died, age 77, in 1978.
    Salomea Herszenberg was born in May 17, 1926, in Łódź, Poland, to Calel and Roza Toronczyk. Her father delivered textiles to factories in Łódź. Her mother was a nurse/midwife, .as was her twin sister Anna;Roza also had a brother Mel. A few months after Germany invaded Poland in September 1939, her family was imprisoned inside the ghetto with the other Jews of the town. Both parents continued to work the same jobs. Roza took over Anna's job at the ghetto hospital when Anna escaped to Russian territory in the east. Salomea attended the ghetto high school, where the headmistress, Stella Rein, maintained the normal curriculum and provided a daily bowl of soup for students. Salomea was often very hungry, but a rule of the ghetto was that you did not talk about hunger. Her paternal grandmother, Cerka Herszenberg, died of starvation in 1941. In the fall of 1942, her friend, Stella Szafir, told Salomea that her family had been taken by the Gestapo; a few days later, Stella turned herself in and was taken to Chelmno killing center. In the spring of 1944, the Germans decided to destroy the ghetto. The residents were told that they were being transferred to work camps, though most were being shipped to Auschwitz death camp. Salomea’s mother decided that the family must hide and avoid the deportations. Roza's brother, Mel, had been assigned to the group of about 600 residents that the Germans kept behind to clean the ghetto and sort the remaining belongings. He was part of the work detail that cleaned stables, and he was able to get Roza and her family jobs in his group. They stayed in the ghetto until the liberation of the city by the Soviet Army in January 1945. After liberation, Salomea enrolled in medical school and received her degree in 1952. In 1957, she and her husband, Mendel Kape, whom she had married in 1951, left Poland for Israel where their son was born. In 1966, the family emigrated to New York. Salomea's parents and aunt Anna joined them in New York in 1966. Her father died in 1972/3 and her mother passed away in 1975.

    Physical Details

    Object Type
    Medals, Polish (lcsh)
    Physical Description
    These are temporary component designations that will be amended when numbering issues are clarified.
    a-b. Bronze cross pattée medal with a suspension ring and jump ring attached to a ribbon; a-b are not detachable. the a measuremenet above is overall for ribbon and medal.
    a. Metal cross pattee has ball tipped points and rays between the arms. There is a central circle bordered by an embossed laurel wreath with initials inside. The reverse is blank.
    b. Faded red ribbon with 2 white vertical stripes bear each side with red stripe on the outer edge.
    c. Rectangular, cardboard box lid covered with brown textured paper with a gold Polish eagle stamped on the top. The interior is white.
    d. Rectangular, cardboard box base with 2 inserts: the bottom has white cardboard that extends past the sides; the top insert is red velvet-like material concaved to the shape of the medal. The exterior bottom is gray.
    e. Rectangular, bi-fold, flat case, with a red plastic exterior and a stamped border. Stamped on the front is a gold Polish eagle. Inside is a piece of paper folded in half to create 4 pages. The 1st page has a black Polish eagle in the center and 2 red diagonal lines in the right corner. On the inside left and right pages is a thin black outline of a box with text within. The certificate is a preprinted form that has been completed. A red string is attached in the middle of binding to hold the paper.
    a-b: Height: 4.125 inches (10.477 cm) | Width: 1.500 inches (3.81 cm) | Depth: 0.375 inches (0.953 cm)
    c: Height: 4.250 inches (10.795 cm) | Width: 1875.000 inches (4762.5 cm) | Depth: 0.500 inches (1.27 cm)
    d: Height: 4.500 inches (11.43 cm) | Width: 2.250 inches (5.715 cm) | Depth: 0.375 inches (0.953 cm)
    e: Height: 4.250 inches (10.795 cm) | Width: 3.125 inches (7.938 cm)
    a : metal, enamel paint
    b : cloth, metal, adhesive, thread
    c : cardboard, paper, adhesive, ink
    d : cardboard, paper, cloth, adhesive
    e : paper, plastic, ink, string

    Rights & Restrictions

    Conditions on Access
    No restrictions on access
    Conditions on Use
    No restrictions on use

    Keywords & Subjects

    Administrative Notes

    The medal with ribbon, box, and certificate were donated to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in 2005 by Dr. Salomea Kape, the niece of Anna Toronczyk.
    Record last modified:
    2024-02-21 07:11:17
    This page:

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