The dark story of a 9-year-old Jewish woman murdered in 1944! Teddy bear and the Mother of God

Teddy bear and the Mother of God

Hugging a teddy bear, a few-year-old Henryk, with tears in her eyes, she knelt before the painting of the Virgin Mary. The drunk Gestapo man put a gun to her temple. Shouting for incomprehensible words in German, he ripped off some of her clothes. Then he pounded her face and head with his fists. When he was about to rape her, the second Gestapo officer entered the kitchen in front of the Polish blackmailer. Then a quarrel broke out between them. They even started to struggle with each other – then one of them approached the Pole and began to ask about the allegedly hidden Jewish gold. The dispute grew in intensity and there was no end in sight. At this point, bloody Henry no longer thought about how to survive – but how quickly to die. Half-naked and half-dead, she whispered for a quick death. Until she finally passed out completely. She remembered the strong blow to the back of the head. I guess that would end her life. But that did not happen.


She woke up in a neighbor’s house. With a concussion and crippled all over his body. She probably survived because she was presumed dead by her captors. The dying girl got help from Roch, with whom her parents were not very close friends. They rather avoided each other. And the reason was the anti-Semitism of a nearby neighbor. The truth, however, was quite different. The dislike of Jews was only for show. It was about distracting nosy neighbors and losing the vigilance of blackmailers. As early as 1941, they were hiding two Jewish children in the attic of their house. It was a huge surprise for Henryka. Previously, she had lived a completely different, misconception of Roch and his wife.

The occupation stole from Henry not only her childhood but, in fact, everything. The trauma of the war lasted until the last moments of her life. She died in 2010. Her parents paid the highest price for helping a minor Jewish woman – Józefina from Ząbki near Warsaw. They were brutally murdered at the hands of the Gestapo. The local veterinarian who helped the hiding Jewish woman with acute pneumonia did not survive. Even his 6-month-old daughter was not spared. The drunk Gestapo man smashed the infant’s head against the table top.

This drama may have never happened – had it not been for the criminal activities of the Polish blackmailer. But his fate did not spare. Just three months after the end of the war, he was found hanged in Warsaw’s Praga district near Skaryszewski Park. Has anyone helped him with this? Did he commit suicide out of remorse? We’ll never know that again. One thing is clear in this dark story. It was easy to become a victim. And the executioner was not only the German occupier, but unfortunately …


Altruists and blackmailers

Poles saved Jews for various reasons. Henryka’s family helped Józefina for altruistic reasons. But there were also those who were guided by a patriotic duty and a moral imperative. The third group consists of people who helped the Jews for money, thanks to which they could improve their material conditions. People whose goal was to easily gain a fortune and who did not care about the good of the Jews arouse the most emotions. And somewhere in between there were blackmailers and Gestapo agents. History, however, forgets nothing. There are many documented events and behaviors that show what happened in occupied Poland. One of the most poignant accounts was made by a Jewish mother, Mrs. Majdanowa. The author of the report describes how, in a moment of despair, during the liquidation of the Warsaw ghetto, she approached a simple woman, a Polish woman who traded in coal, who took pity on her little son and took care of him without hesitation. The latter, having left her son, decided to pretend to be Polish and Catholic, and volunteered to work in Germany as such. Meanwhile, a woman who decided to save her son was forced to leave her apartment in Warsaw for fear of her neighbors, who might report that she was hiding a Jewish child. Together with the boy, she left Warsaw for the countryside, where she managed to protect the boy until the end of the war. In front of people, she pretended to be his grandmother. Maidanowa found them after returning from Germany in 1946. It is worth adding that the Polish woman endowed the Jewish child with unconditional love, regardless of the circumstances and the risk. Source: Majdanowa’s account, December 12, 1946, CKŻP, file no.301 / 5289.2, Archives of the Jewish Historical Institute.

But other accounts can also be found in the archives of history. First of all, they are accounts full of sadness and despair of the victims themselves. At the same time, an almost sadistic image of the Polish blackmailer emerges. Extortion of money and valuables – and then putting the victims into the hands of the Gestapo. In addition, rapes and beatings were the order of the day. The fear of informers and blackmailers was enormous in all occupied Poland. Nobody denies their existence today. However, the scale of this darkness in Poland is not fully known. According to Mirosław Tryczyk, author of the book “Cities of death. Neighborly pogroms of Jews”, there were from 50,000 to even half a million blackmailers in occupied Poland. According to other commentators and researchers, this number could be much larger. … and who were the blackmailers really? … just ordinary criminals? … or perhaps, as Jan Grabowski claims: “{…} artisans, intellectuals and workers took up the persecution of Jews, because it was a lucrative and not particularly risky occupation, which – at least in some circles – did not entail the threat of ostracism social “? Source: Jan Grabowski: Judenjagt. Hunting for Jews 1942-1945. Warsaw: Association of the Center for Research on the Extermination of Jews, 2011, p. 91.

Good and bad have no nationality

The dispute over history will become increasingly acute. This is beyond doubt. But no matter which side of the barricade we stand on today, it’s time to say one important thing. The cases of blackmail must be exposed and condemned. We must expose and glorify cases of heroism. At the same time, of course, there is no point in repeating the stereotypes that a Pole is an anti-Semite and blackmailer, and a Jew – a smart and a thief. There are certainly no black and white societies and no black and white people. It is also important to make a self-assessment when evaluating others, so that it does not happen by accident that the famous parable about the blade and the beam is true. Why? Because a discussion without objectivity, which sees only evil in some, and only good in others, only deepens mutual hostility and hatred. Good and evil have no nationality – people are good or bad, not Jews or Poles. Stigmatizing nationality is racism! … so hard to understand ?!



You cannot miss this! Do you want to know the full story of the minor Józefina? You will learn more about it in Part One and Part Two

PS. About who Henryka was to me – soon in a new note from the series of personal confessions soon!

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