The Righteous

Two ceremonies honoring the Righteous Among the Nations were held today in Warsaw. The first one at the headquarters of the Polish Episcopate, the second – in the Nożyk synagogue. The honored were outstanding individuals, who in difficult and dangerous times helped those sentenced to death. What the Righteous gave the Jews they harbored was not just the shelter, food, or new documents. First and foremost, they gave them life.
In moments like these, I remember my grandparents – Righteous Among the Nations – Irena and Janusz Cholewicki.

Joanna. Photograph taken just after she left the ghetto
Joanna. Photograph taken just after she left the ghetto

Friendship between the Cholewickis and the Konińskis from Warsaw had dated three generations back and even the war did not change it. When the Konińskis were imprisoned in the ghetto, the Cholewickis tried to help them. In the summer of 1941, they took in the Konińskis’ granddaughter – Joanna Helena. They managed to get a birth certificate for her with their last name. Joanna’s father was in the Soviet Union at the time.

The Cholewickis also helped the families of Epsteins and Brings.

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Wacław and Felicja (Kita) Koniński – Joanna’s parents, my grandparents. He survived the war in the Soviet Union. She was in the Warsaw Ghetto and probably died in Treblinka.

In 1946, Joanna’s father returned to Warsaw. However, the girl decided to stay with the Cholewickis, who adopted her later.

Joanna is my mother. Thanks to the two Righteous, she survived the war, finished medical school, got married. Thanks to them, I am in this world, as well as my children. Saving her, they saved us all.