Dąbrowski Władysław

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Story of Rescue - Władysław Dąbrowski

Prior to the outbreak of World War II, the Ehrenwert family lived in Żółkiew near Lwów. The father of the family, Salomon (Szlomo) (1889–1942), was a merchant.

He and his wife Etel (née Fisch, 1900–1944) had five children:

  • Michał,
  • Dawid Efroim (1919–1944)
  • Mechel (1925–1944)
  • Sabina (Szewa, 1912–1942?), married to Jozef Meister and
  • Sylwia (Szifra).

Shortly before the outbreak of the War, she gave birth to a daughter they named Breina (Bronia, 1938-1943). Michał, having graduated from secondary school, failed to pass the entrance examinations to the Lwów Polytechnic National University and stayed in Żółkiew together with the rest of his siblings. He earned a living by teaching mathematics privately.

After the outbreak of World War II, Żółkiew came under Soviet occupation. Michał left for Lwów and started studying in the Architecture Faculty of the Lwów Polytechnic, staying with his relatives at ul. Łukasińskiego.

After the Germans attacked the Soviet Union, he failed to flee east. He remained in Lwów and found work with Wirtschaftsinspektion Süd, a German inspectorate which, from 1941, managed the economic usage of occupied areas.

In August 1942, after a wave of deportations from Lwów to the death camp in Bełżec, he managed to leave Lwów thanks to the help of his brother Dawid. He reached Mosty Wielkie, where his siblings were. There, at a forced labour camp, he worked on the construction of a narrow-gauge railway line. Johann Kroupa, the local commanding officer, tried to protect the Jews who worked for him.

While working there, Dawid came into contact with Władysław Dąbrowski, a man living in Zawonie, a Polish village in the Sokal Poviat, who, from 1940 until April 1944, worked as a narrow-gauge engine driver on the railway line going through the camp for Jews in Sielec-Zawonie. According to what Michał Erens later recalled, Władysław always had a positive attitude towards his Jewish co-workers.

Dąbrowski promised to help Dawid, explaining, in detail, how to get to his family home.

In the autumn of 1942, just before thousands of Jews were transported from Żółkiew, the siblings managed to bring their mother to Mosty Wielkie. Their father refused to leave their home in Żółkiew and died during the operation on 22nd November 1942.

Fearing that the Germans intended to kill all the Jewish people who remained in Mosty Wielkie, Dawid, Michał and Mechel Ehrenwert left the camp. They belonged to a working group headed by Izydor (Izaak) Sager (1905–1944). The group was preparing itself for armed resistance and for organising hiding places in the nearby forests.

However, no women were accepted as part of the group at that time and the Ehrenwert family decided to try and hide on their own. Before that, Dawid managed to place their mother in a lumber mill with the family of Janek Lukomski, friends of theirs, and to hide their niece Bronia with a family of poor farmers.

Initially, Sabina stayed in the forest with her brothers and sister but, later, she was hidden in the town of Belz, with a woman who lived alone and whom Dawid paid for harbouring his sister. However, Sabina was denounced and killed. In the autumn of 1943, her daughter Bronia was also denounced and shot by Ukrainian police. In the summer of 1943, the Ehrenwert family joined the Sager group. By that time, it counted numbered around forty people, including women.

In view of the coming winter, Dawid decided to seek help from Dąbrowski, who “came to our rescue without a moment’s hesitation and without any second thoughts, not asking for any reward or a promise of a reward, acting strictly out of humanitarian considerations”.

Dąbrowski hid Etel and Mechel at his own house, in a bunker built in the stable. Michał and Sylwia hid with his uncle, Paweł Dąbrowski. Dawid was hidden by another uncle - Izydor, who was already hiding a Jewish doctor, Leon Inslicht, and his wife Adela.

According to what Dąbrowski wrote in his statement, he looked after Etel and her son Mechel by “buying food for them, preparing meals together with my mother, and taking them to the bunker”.

On 5th March 1944, the village was surrounded by Ukrainian troops. It was destroyed and set on fire. Michał and Sylwia were the only members of the family who survived. After Soviet troops arrived in August 1944, Michał was recruited into the Soviet Army, from which he managed to escape near Łańcut. He then joined the Polish army. His sister returned from Żółkiew.

After the War, Władysław Dąbrowski settled in Świdnica. He was visited by Michał in 1948. Michał went to Israel and then to the USA. After the War, he graduated in engineering. He changed his surname to Erens, estabished a family and found work in New York.

In January 1991, Michael and Władysław renewed their contact. The Yad Vashem Institute awarded the title of "Righteous Among the Nations" to Władysław Dąbrowski on 4th October 1994.


  • Erens Michael, Forest to Freedom. Recollections of my Life in Poland during the Holocaust 1939-1944