Logo Polskiego Radia

Woman who helped Jedwabne Jews dies

PR dla Zagranicy
Peter Gentle 02.12.2011 10:30
Antonina Wyrzykowska, honoured by the Vad Vashem institute's Righteous Among the Nations in Jerusalem for helping Jews in Poland during WW II has died: she was 95 years old.

Antonina Wyrzykowska in 2007; photo - wikicommons

Antonina is best remembered for helping Jews fleeing the Jedwabne pogrom in 1941.

She began to assist Jews when the Germans established a ghetto in Lomza. She was 25 years old then, had a husband and two children, all of whom were threatened with death if caught by the Nazis. But as she had written: “It's not about your religion, but about whether a man needs your help”.

In 1942, the Wyrzykowski family hid seven Jews on their farm who had escaped the pogrom in Jedwabne, when hundreds were killed by Poles after being attacked and burnt in a barn.

The escaped Jews hid in the farm until 1945, despite regular searches of the property by Nazis and a very “aggressive attitude from Polish neighbours”.

When the Nazis were driven out of Poland by the advancing Red Army, she and her family were beaten by locals for hiding the Jews.

They upped and left for the town of Lomza and eventually settled in Milanówek not far from Warsaw, where for the next 30 years they kept quiet about their WW II exploits.

Antonina Wyrzykowska took part in the ceremony's to remember the victims of the Jedwabne pogrom following the release of the book Neighbours by Jan Gross had shocked Poland.

Her efforts to save Poland's WW II Jews is noted in Anna Bikont's 2004 book My z Jedwabnego (We from Jedwabne). (pg)

Copyright © Polskie Radio S.A About Us Contact Us