When my parents died, they left behind many puzzles. One of the most profound is of the woman who hid them for a year and a half in the cellar of her villa in Grochów, Warsaw.
August 2009, Anna Zawadzka
In times of World War Two, everyday items can be worth more than gold. Take bedclothes, for instance. A few bedsheets tied together enabled Adolf and Eugenia Żeberko to escape from the prison on Montelupich Street in Krakow. The sheets were planted by the Home Army, for whom the couple used to print underground publications in their packaging factory. Later, the Żeberkos came under the protection of the Polish Underground State.
They were moved to Warsaw and placed under the care of Zbigniew Kuszewski, (codename ‘Opacki’) the Home Army open source intelligence agent, who hid them in his own apartment in the Bielany district. Eugenia was good looking and so became the housekeeper, and during Gestapo searches pretended to be Zbigniew’s wife. Due to his visibly Semitic features, Adolf worked in the basement, cutting paper for underground publishers and filling cigarette papers with tobacco, which were also sent to the Home Army. He survived the German raids, hidden in Kuszewski’s chimney.
Three days prior to August 1st 1944, their host advised the couple to make their way to the Kampinos Forest, in order to escape the Warsaw Uprising which has now become the focal point of Kuszewski’s memories, and to which his mind returns time and again. The breakout of the Warsaw Uprising meant that ‘Opacki’ could no longer fulfil the order given to him by his superior: “Do not allow the loss of even one man.” Kuszewski eventually became one of the organizers of the evacuation of the residents of Warsaw.
Adolf and Eugenia Żeberko emigrated to Vienna in 1948 and eventually settled in Canada. Both passed away. Zbigniew died In July, 2009.