Chrzanowska-Szlom Danuta

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Story of Rescue - Chrzanowska-Szlom Danuta

In the autumn of 1941, Miriam Szapiro,using false identity papers under the name of ”Maria Zaremba”, managed to cross the ”green line” from Warsaw to Ciechanów (the Ciechanów regierungsbezirk, East Prussia).

She rented a room with the Włoczewski family. Ryszard Włoczewski arranged a secretarial and bookkeeping job for her at Radusch, a German construction company, where he himself worked. The same building also housed the offices of Fiver Vertung, a German abbatoir company which supplied the Nazi army.

There, Szapiro met Danuta Chrzanowska-Szlom. The majority of the workers in that building were German, so that the young women became friends. One day, Miriam revealed the truth to Danuta about her background. Not only did Chrzanowska-Szlom not betray her confidence, but their friendship became closer and she gave her friend much-needed moral support. Miriam had lost her one year old son and had no idea of what had happened to her husband.

Miriam lived in constant fear of being denounced. When rumours began circulating around the office of her Jewish origins, Danuta stubbornly denied them and defended her friend with all her strength.

Towards the end of the War, the owner of the Radusch company evacuated its offices to the west. Szapiro left together with the other employees. She had survived. She returned to Ciechanów, but could not find Danuta who had moved to Elbląg. Miriam emigrated to Israel where she established a new family.

When Danuta returned to Ciechanów in 1988, following the death of her husband, Miriam found her thanks to assistance from Zuzanna Ostaszewska, the daughter of Marianna Włoczewska, who had helped her during her time in Ciechanów and with whom she had maintained contact. In 1995, Miriam visited her wartime friend.