The Mussil Family

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Story of Rescue - The Mussil Family

During the Second World War Mieczysław Mussil – a painter born in Lviv – had been hiding 14 Jews in his apartment in the Warsaw district of Żoliborz. During the Ghetto Uprising he used the canals to carry food for the fighters. His future wife Irena Ulanowska used to lead children out of the ghetto and to organize shelters for them at the houses of her friends.

Among the people Mussil sheltered was Renata Preczep. Before the war she was living with her parents – a judge and a music teacher – in Stryj near Lviv. During the occupation the father of Renata, Józef, escaped to Lviv. The girl together with her mother, Katarzyna Thaler-Preczep, were ordered to move to the local ghetto. Renata’s mother, with the help of her friend – the tailor Adolf Werner – obtained for her daughter, who was then about 17 years old, false documents in the name of Rozalia Derkacz. She sent her to an aunt from Drohobycz. She joined her 6 months later.

After a month, their neighbor warned the women someone had guessed that Renata was Jewish. The girl returned to Stryj. A friend of her mother, the music teacher Maria Mussil was supposed to shelter her there – but before Renata reached her, she got arrested and transported to the Gestapo. An Ukrainian policeman she knew advised her to admit to her descent right away. This saved her life. She was transferred to sheds located outside the ghetto – Jewish workers of Adolf Werner’s workshop used to live there.

Werner took care of Renata: he used to pretend she was working in his workshop. When the Nazis were liquidating the sheds, the girl was sheltered by Maria Mussil. After a few days a soldier of the Home Army responsible for smuggling people took her and two other Jewish women to Warsaw. He organized for her false papers in the name Helena Rozner. In Warsaw she was sheltered by Mieczysław Mussil: he took her to the apartment where he was living with Irena Ulanowska, his future wife. Renata stayed with them since the summer of 1943 until the spring of 1944. During this time, she did not leave the house. Nobody out of the hiding Jews paid their hosts, that is why they were all living in poverty and were often lacking of food.

On April 7th, 1944 the Nazis organized a search for Jews hiding in Warsaw. Mieczysław and Irena were arrested and imprisoned in Pawiak. Due to his “Semitic appearance” the Germans suspected Mussil of having Jewish descent but after a month he and Irena were freed. Together with them the Germans arrested three people they were hiding: Bolesław Matusowski, his 5-year-old daughter Monika and Renata Preczep. Matusowski and his daughter were shot by the Nazis on April 22nd, 1944.

Renata avoided execution. After the liquidation of Pawiak, she was transferred to the Gęsiówka prison. Together with other inmates, she was freed by the Home Army troops in the beginning of August 1944. She had been hiding in various apartments in Warsaw until the end of the uprising. She later managed to get out of the city. She reached Pruszków and then was sent to the camp in Lamsdorf, where she remained until the end of the war.

Her parents were killed: her mother in 1943 and her father in the Lviv ghetto in 1944. Renata got married and settled in Warsaw. In 1968, due to the anti-Semitic events in Poland, she emigrated to Israel. She remained in contact with her saviors for many years. In the fifties, the Mussils settled in Warsaw. They lived in very difficult financial conditions. They passed away childless.

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  • Archiwum Ambasady Izraela - Materiały opracowane w związku z uroczystością wręczenia medalu i dyplomu honorowego „Sprawiedliwy wśród Narodów Świata” rodzinie Mussilów 22 października 2010