But there was another perk connected to the MWN position: a free “post-Jewish” apartment (i.e. apartment whose Jewish owners were deported from the ghetto). Krysia and Zofia got one at Orla Street in Warsaw, very close to the new ghetto boundary. It was impossible to refuse this “gift” without raising suspicions but the closeness to the ghetto must have created a heavy psychological burden for them.
“I visited their flat (two rooms) several times – wrote Krzysztof to me – While living there, Krysia and her mother must have been in the same position as other people living on the so called “Aryan" side of the ghetto wall. They were witnesses at close range to the mass murder and not being able to do anything about it. Possibly Krysia’s mother who stayed all day at the flat was even in worse position than Krysia who went to work long hours for six days a week. During that time I saw Krysia only occasionally on some Sundays when we both had time. It was dangerous for her to visit me at Saska Kepa and not pleasant for us to sit at her flat, so we met mainly in cafes in central Warsaw and in parks, if the weather was nice”.
During one of his visits at the Orla street, Krysia introduced him to Jerzy. Like Krysia, he was given a “post-Jewish” apartment where he lived with some relatives.
“I immediately felt that my “boyfriend–girlfriend” period with Krysia - wrote Krzysztof to me - is over and from then on it became a very deep friendship.”
At the beginning of 1943 it was Krzysztof’s turn to ask Krysia for help. In January 1943 he was arrested by the Germans while walking in the center of Warsaw and sent to Majdanek. After his mother bribed some Gestapo functionaries he was released and returned to Warsaw but needed a good Ausweis to avoid being caught again. Krysia turned to her boss, a German named Lehmann, who arranged a job for Krzysztof at the MWN.
“For the next six months [i.e. roughly March - September 1943] I saw Krysia quite often – wrote Krzysztof to me in 1995 – I remember I worked one week for day shift (from 7:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.) and the next week for the night shift. She worked in the office in day time only and shorter hours. That was the time I could see her and on Sundays in her flat, or somewhere in Warsaw….. “.
But one day, before the end of 1943, Krzysztof did not find Krysia at her desk. "As far as I can remember - he wrote - Krysia disappeared from the office while I was on a nightshift. The following week I went to Orla [street] but she has disappeared from there too”.
Next day Lehmann called Krzysztof to his office and asked if he is related to Fraulein Zimmer.
“Not at all – I answered – I met her on the Vistula beach”.
“I heard she is a Jewess”
“I cannot believe this – I cried, faking surprise.
Nevertheless he asked if I know where she lives. I answered that I was myself looking for her, that I went to her apartment but was told that she moved out to an unknown destination. Luckily this was the end of it.”
Krzysztof believed that Krysia became alarmed by somebody asking too many questions or that somebody else tipped her about some imminent danger. Anyhow she disappeared immediately from the MWN and, with her mother, from their post-Jewish apartment on the Orla street.
This photo, most probably taken from Krysia's window, shows a segment of the Orla street. Originally part of the ghetto, after the great deportation of July 1942, Orla was detached from the shrinking ghetto and the empty apartments were allocated to people working for German companies in Warsaw.
Next time Krzysztof heard from Krysia, she had a new place of residence and a new place of work as a secretary in the Kraftfahrpark – the German Army Car Pool in Warsaw. Her boss, she told Krzysztof, an Austrian officer much older than herself, was “a decent, fatherly person”.
With Jerzy and, most probably, his mother in an apartment on the Orla street. The elaborated sofa they are sitting on must have belonged to the original owners of the apartment.
Orla Street and the new boundary of the Warsaw ghetto (Source: ZIH, Warsaw).
With Jerzy in Michalowice, summer 1943. Michalowice, a village near Warsaw, is a popular venue for summer vacations.
With Krzysztof in the garden of his house in Saska Kepa. The visit, most probably, took place when Krzysztof was recuperating after his release from Majdanek (which would explain his attire). According to Krzysztof the photo was taken by "Younger Marysia" who now became his girlfriend.
The building of the Kraftfahrpark at Aleje Niepodleglosci in Warsaw during the first half of the 1940s (Source: Fotopolska.pl). The building was one of the targets of the Warsaw uprising in August 1944.
Krysia's photo removed from her Kraftfahrpark Ausweis (the partial stamp of which can be seen at right bottom corner). The photo clearly reflects the heavy burden which the events of the preceding period must have been for her.
Krysia and two of her co-workers. The lady in the middle became Krysia's good friend as evidenced by a long series of photos taken in the spring of 1944.
Krysia, "the good Austrian officer" and others in the office.