The Turczynski Family

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A Story of Rescue - the Turczyński family

Soon after the outbreak of World War II, Bolesław Turczyński, his wife Helena and their daughters Zofia and Wanda settled in Brwinów near Warsaw, at ul. Leśna 28. Altogether 14 Jews found shelter in

Over different periods during the German occupation, fourteen Jews found shelter in this little house on the periphery of the town. It was Helena Turczyńska, who organized that help – “the woman with a great heart”.

The first to hide at ul. Leśna was Mrs. Wajsblat - an affluent owner of building materials firm, traveling together with her daughter-in-law and adolescent grandchildren. She knew the Turczyński family - before the War, her sons had been selling them building materials for the construction of the house in Brwinów. The Wajsblat family stayed with the Turczyński family for a few months - until the summer of 1941. However, Helena never stopped supporting them until the very end of World War II.

It was thanks to the information from the Wajblat family that Adam Gutgisser, a doctor of microbiology, learned about the Polish family helping Jews. At that time, Gutgisser was using a false kennkarte under the name of "Drozdowicz". After “leaving the ghetto” in December 1942, he hid “on the Aryan side” of the city. Drozdowicz organized protection for other fugitives from the ghetto. (He provided them with money obtained from the “Żegota” Polish Council to Aid Jews, found shelter for them and also assisted in several “operations to remove any traces of circumcision”).

The first person who Drozdowicz brought to the Turczyński home, in 1942, was his mother-in-law Anna Mintz, a dentist. Two days later, he was also to lead, out of the ghetto his wife and father. Unfortunately, when he came back for them, they had already gone. They died in Treblinka extermination camp.

In the early spring of 1943, Gutgisser-Drozdowicz brought to Brwinów a university friend, Bela Montrol, with her daughter Lusia, and ,after a few months, another two women from the Gothelf family with their sons. The Gothelfs were formerly a family of wealthy industrialists.

The Jews did not leave the home. Gathered in one of the rooms, they tried not to make too much noise, as of one of the tenants was suspected of having pro-Nazi sympathies. When the number of the fugitives grew, the host and Drozdowicz dug out a shelter below the room’s floor, which saved everybody’s lives during a future German search. The Nazis searched the whole house, but could not find the Jews hidden below the floor. The Turczyński family suspected that it was the tenant who had tipped off the enemy.

After this incident, the Gothelfs signed up for the departure via the “Hotel Polski” and, probably, died afterwards. Bela Montrol and her daughter moved to another hiding place. However, she returned to the Turczyński family at the beginning of 1944. However when, in the spring of that same year, the withdrawing German forces took up two rooms in the house on ul. Leśna, for the woman and her child, as well as for Anna Mintz, Drozdowicz found a new hiding place in Praga suburb of Warsaw. They lived there until the Soviet forces liberated the city.

In September 1944, the Gorodecki family, consisting of Jadwiga, Krystyna, Piotr and his mother, who were friends of Adam Drozdowicz-Gutgisser, escaped from the camp in Pruszków. They stayed with the Turczyńskis until the Soviet Army marched into that territory in January 1945.

When World War II ended, the Turczyński family maintained close contact with the majority of the Jewish survivors and their families. This is how Bela Montrol describes the rescuers: “We felt as though we were part of the family. Although they were all risking their lives and the times were very harsh, they never made us feel that we were some kind of burden on them”.

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