Long-lost letter reveals heroic story of Polish farmer who saved Jewish sisters from Nazis
Now, nevertheless, due to a long-forgotten letter, Jurzyk, 35, has uncovered the reality about how her household rescued and hid two Jewish sisters from the Nazis.
Having moved to Stockholm as a child, Jurzyk grew up listening to from her grandparents about her great-grandfather’s bravery — although particulars had been scant.
“I used to be very near my grandparents,” she instructed CNN. “I spent each faculty vacation with them in Poland and World Battle II was very current as a result of they each survived it.”
Her grandfather, Stanislaw Jurzyk, instructed her that in 1942, aged 12, whereas enjoying on the household farm in Gostchorz — a village about 68 miles east of Warsaw — he stumbled throughout two girls, each of their 20s.
Shocked, he instructed his dad and mom, who revealed that that they had been hiding the sisters since discovering them of their fields.
“They had been badly overwhelmed and really weak,” Karolina Jurzyk, who works as a sample maker for H&M in Stockholm, instructed CNN. In line with her grandfather, the sisters had been orphaned — however they spoke little of their previous.
Stanislaw was sworn to secrecy by his father — additionally known as Stanislaw. That very same 12 months, his mom, Helena, died in childbirth — leaving Stanislaw Senior to lift the youngsters alone, whereas nonetheless defending the ladies.
Jurzyk did not know her great-grandfather, who died in 1989, and her surviving family knew nothing concerning the sisters’ destiny after they left the farm two years later.
However when her father, Wojciech, 60, lately found a letter, her curiosity was sparked. Tattered and scrawled in outdated Polish, it was virtually not possible to decipher the correspondence that her grandfather had generally talked about.
One factor was clear, nevertheless: The correspondents’ names — Fela and Jadzia Kejzman. Jurzyk, who till then had solely identified the ladies’s first names, ventured on-line for clues.
A easy on-line search returned each sisters’ names
Karen Norman, 42, a New York-based actual property agent, replied. She is the granddaughter of Jadzia, whose full given identify was Jadwiga.
Norman knew of the rescue however in even much less element than Jurzyk, as, like many Holocaust survivors, her grandmother and great-aunt not often spoke of their experiences or their early lives rising up in Poland. What she might share, nevertheless, was that each sisters raised households in North America; her grandmother in Toronto, whereas Fela — brief for Felicia — settled in Chicago.
“I had tears in my eyes, I used to be so glad to listen to they survived,” mentioned Jurzyk.
The method is advanced but when profitable, the official honor would see him rank amongst different gentiles who risked a lot to save lots of Jews in the course of the warfare — amongst them Oskar Schindler, Raoul Wallenberg and Miep Gies, who helped disguise Anne Frank.
The timing of the invention is all of the extra poignant as each households had been bereaved over the previous 12 months.
Whereas Norman’s grandmother died a number of years in the past,her great-aunt, Fela, solely handed away in December, aged 103.
And Jurzyk’s grandfather, Stanislaw, died in March after affected by dementia. He lived lengthy sufficient to listen to the information, nevertheless.
“My grandfather apparently grew to become very emotional,” Jurzyk instructed CNN, as he discovered from his son, Jurzyk’s father, that the reference to the sisters’ household had been made. “Someplace deep inside he knew they had been secure.”
Though she regrets not performing sooner, Jurzyk says connecting with Norman has eased the lack of her grandfather’s dying.
“I really feel our ancestors had such an enormous connection and it is virtually as if I’ve been part of it as nicely.
“I am not a really non secular particular person however someway I really feel their power with me and it is comforting — it is like he is saying … ‘you are doing an excellent job.'”
When MyHeritage heard the story that they had the letter professionally translated.
Addressed to Stanislaw Senior, it was dated February 10, 1948 and despatched from a displaced individuals camp in Bamberg, throughout the US-controlled a part of Germany.
They wrote: “Plenty of time has handed because the day we mentioned goodbye to you. Nevertheless, we didn’t specific our cordial due to you for all the great that you just did for us. We’ll always remember this noble act of saving our life.”
The ladies described Jurzyk’s great-grandfather as “an individual who has completed one of the best and grandest act of saving human life” and expressed their “most profound gratitude.”
They talked of “a brand new stage in life” on “blood-soaked German soil,” however outlined plans to to migrate “past Europe’s borders.”
Fela seems to have bodily written the letter, saying her sister married and had a child, whereas she has “a much-loved husband.”
She provides: “My husband already is aware of you from my accounts and he has requested me to ship you his regards and a handshake.”
Signing off, she expresses her intention to remain in contact, saying “the bond of our friendship ought to be unbreakable.”
Second letter emerges
Extra lately, Jurzyk’s father uncovered one other letter in his personal father’s belongings. On this one, dated November 22, 1949, Fela says she and her husband arrived in the US after a treacherous sea crossing. She explains that her sister and household stay in Germany however hope to depart quickly.
An emotional Norman instructed CNN that listening to from Jurzyk “felt like an indication.”
“Once I obtained the message it was probably the most unbelievable factor and the saddest on the identical time. I actually consider it was my great-aunt sending us an indication.”
Norman mentioned she first joined MyHeritage to attempt to discover solutions concerning the sisters’ previous.
“Every little thing was a thriller. We do not know the way they ended up being there or the place they had been going to. There have been bits and items we knew however they instructed us little or no.”
Norman has not come throughout any letters in reply, however she hasn’t but gone via all of her great-aunt’s belongings.
“Regardless that there is not a variety of data within the letters, it nonetheless makes me cry studying them. Simply realizing how a lot Mr. Jurzyk meant to her,” Norman mentioned.
‘They lived due to him’
To date, the 2 girls have solely communicated via on-line messages, however they hope to talk on the cellphone quickly.
“I might not be right here if it wasn’t for her great-grandfather,” mentioned Norman.
“They lived due to him. Somebody who simply noticed them as folks and worthy of saving. How do you thank somebody’s household for one thing like that generations later?”
Many individuals researching their household historical past see the Holocaust as a “black gap,” however evolving expertise gives “the chance to beat what was as soon as a important lack of knowledge”, in accordance with MyHeritage researcher Nitay Elboym.
“We consider tales of rescue are significantly essential, as a result of they encourage us to do what’s proper on a human stage, even when it means taking extraordinary dangers,” he mentioned.