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Warsaw, Winter 1942-1943

When we next meet Anek, in the winter months of 1942-1943, he and his mother are already living outside the ghetto; he in Warsaw and she somewhere in the countryside. Anek then knocks on the door of a young Polish woman, Krystyna Ostrowska, on Czerniakowska Street in Warsaw. To Krystyna, surprised to find an unknown young man on her doorsteps, he explains that he comes
to take back candlesticks he deposited there some time ago with a female friend from the  university. Krystyna tells him that her cousin who used to live in the same apartment moved away taking the candlesticks with her. But Krystyna, immediately recognizing that her visitor is a Jew, does not believe that it would be a good idea to send him away in the pursuit of the  candlesticks.[17] In a 1989 interview with a Wroclaw newspaper Krystyna spoke about Anek:

17 Testimony by Krystyna’s sister, Barbara Ostrowska, University of SouthernCalifornia (USC) Shoah Foundation, 28389, I/20;00. 

Wanda Samstein (see more below), who knew Anek from Warsaw, believed that during his time in the ghetto Anek was involved in some activities in connection with the Polish underground  AK (Dr. Peter Feuerman (Wanda’s son) to the author, 18 November 2021). This would match the description of his namesake “Majorek” in the “Pianist” by Wladyslaw Szpilman. Because Krystyna was a member of the AK, it is possible that the initial connection between them was related to their underground activities and not to the pursuit of the candlesticks.

Anek on the Zjednoczenie ID (verso).jpg

To the left: The verso of the photograph shown on the front page where the supervisor of the house, where Anek lived after he escaped from the ghetto, wrote as follows: “I herewith confirm the identity of Mr. Jan Andrzej Maslowski who is registered at 20/14Miedziana St. with this photograph, 17 July1943”.

He was a madly intelligent man, young and talented, student of architecture, spoke fluent German. I immediately took to him. He was a son of a wealthy fabricant. I first got him false papers [in the name of Jan Andrzej Maslowski][18] and then arranged a place to live and work.  Unfortunately he was totally unpractical, from this point of view he was a total nebbish. 
 

Krystyna described how she was worried when Anek did not show on time to a previously arranged meeting. She was fearing the worst when Anek arrived safe and sound. “What happened?” – she asked him. “Oh” – he answered – “I joined a German patrol searching for Jews. They were glad to have somebody who speaks good German”.[19]

18 Barbara, on the other hand, mentioned that Anek already had false identitypapers when he came to Krystyna’s apartment.

19 Janusz Gajdamowicz, “Sprawiedliwa ‘Kalina’”, Niedziela Wroclawska, 31/2014, p.7. It was well known that the best way to shake off Polish blackmailers, at least for Jews who spoke good German, was to approach a German patrol and ask for their "protection".

Miedziana_20_983234_Fotopolska-Eu.jpg

The house at 20 Miedziana Street on a recent photograph (Source: fotopolska.pl)

Krystyna introduced Anek to a small group of close friends who included her sister Barbara, Irena Rybczynska and some others. Wanda Samstein Feuerman (by her first marriage Weinreich), who was later, thanks to Anek, saved by the same group (see below for more) left a vivid description of them:

 

The girls were exceptional, unusually brave, totally nonmaterialistic. There was never any reference to money. To the contrary, they tried to help as far as they could, to create an atmosphere that would help me to forget my experiences at the ghetto…. They were a hard-working group, studied at the secret classes, transported arms and fliers [for the AK, the main Polish underground movement] and in the evenings, at home, took care of the household duties. At the same time they were exceptionally well disposed and hilarious. Their bravado bordered on recklessness. It was just a miracle that no accident happened. They took care of me only because I was a Jewess.[20]

20 Wladyslaw Bartoszewski. Ten jest z ojczyzny mojej. Warszawa, 2007, p. 382.

In 1990 Irena wrote to Yad Vashem:

 

In the autumn of 1942 Krystyna Ostrowska, a sister of my friend [Barbara Ostrowska], introduced me to a Jew in hiding – Jan Andrzej Maslowski (his true first and family name was Arnold Majorek). He was a student of architecture from Kalisz. He became a member of our circle of friends, participated in our meetings, in our excursions out of town. With time he started to pose as my fiancé because we realized that in this way he becomes more secure. I was a light blonde with typical "Masovian” [i.e. Slavic] appearance and the connection with me gave Anek an alibi. I introduced him to my parents who accepted this situation and from then on he became a frequent guest in our home and participated in religious holidays for which I prepared him in advance by teaching him carols and Catholic customs.[22]

22 Irena Rybczynska-Holland to Yad Vashem, 10 February 1990; Yad Vashem Archives, file M31.2/4106/1.

Dr. Wiechno during WWII.png

Dr. Wojciech Wiechno, 1914-2004 (Source: Yad Vashem)

While outside the ghetto Anek was in touch with one of his good friends from Kalisz, Albert Gerlach, who was also hiding in Warsaw with his mother using forged papers. In a letter written to me in 1996 Albert recalled as follows:

 

But all the [forged] papers and certificates were completely worthless if their owner suffered from a “cosmetic” problem, i.e. was circumcised. Circumcision was a death sentence. Sometime in 1942 it was rumored that there are surgeons who are able to remove the problem by plastic operation, of course, for a handsome fee. One day Pola [Anek’s mother]paid my mother a visit and told her that she was in touch with such a surgeon. It was decided that Anek and myself will undergo such an operation. All the details were arranged. A private apartment, operation on the kitchen table, extremely painful and frightening. There were a doctor and a nurse. We were operated upon one after another and were told to return the day after tomorrow for the change of bandages. Two days and a night of suffering and pain.

 

At last the day of the dressing arrived. Albert was the first to leave the doctor’s apartment and some 200 meters later was arrested by a Polish policeman and a Gestapo agent. After a large bribe and a lot of luck he was released. "First thing first, we [Albert and his mother] went to Anek to warn him”. Albert believed that it was the nurse who tipped the police about the procedure. The doctor, a urologist from Lodz named Chwat, was, in his opinion, not involved.[23]

 

The same day, not anticipating any problems, Irena came to the Anek’s apartment at Koszykowa Street for her weekly German lesson. While climbing the stairs she found him bent over the rail moaning in pain. She helped him into the apartment and called Dr. Wojciech Wiechno, a physician who was always willing to help Jews. The operation was a total failure and left Anek with an acute inflammation. It took him more than a week to recover thanks to Dr. Wiechno and Irena who visited him on a daily basis and brought food and other necessities. [24]

23 Dr. Albert Gerlach to the author, 11 November 1996.

24 In 1984 Dr. Wiechno was recognized by Yad Vashem as a Righteous Among the Nations for his help to Jews in need in Warsaw during WWII.

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