„Not Only the Ulmas” – tribute to Poles rescuing Jews. Episode 9 „She saved 200 Jews” – VIDEO

In September 1939, the German Reich and Soviet Union invaded Poland, launching WW2. The invasion led to staggering loss of life: throughout the war, nearly 6 million Polish citizens, 3 million of them Jews, perished. In occupied Poland, the Germans introduced capital punishment for every form of assistance to the Jewish population.

IPN’s educational series of short films „Not Only the Ulmas” presents well-researched examples of Poles who saved Jews under German occupation during World War II.

Each episode is focusing on a separate person, and most often a family or several families, whose members risked, and most often lost, their lives trying to protect their Jewish fellow citizens. The series was created by the IPN Spokesperson’s Office in cooperation with researchers at the IPN’s Historical Research Office. Next episodes on IPNtv every Friday at 10:15 am.

Today, we are presenting the episode 9 „She saved 200 Jews”.

Many Poles hid Jews from the German occupiers. One of those hiding with the Kobylec family was Shmuel Ron, a Jewish resistance activist from Będzin, who had earlier found shelter in the apartment of Zofia Klemens, who lived in Katowice at 5/6 Drzymały Street. Zofia Klemens also provided him with the documents of her husband Artur Klemens, who was forcibly then serving in the German army. These allowed Rosenzweig to move freely around the city. 

Zofia Klemens recalled years later: „After three days, Edek brought three men and one woman to my apartment in the evening. They hid at my place, rested, ate, spent the night, and the next day in the evening Edek led them out. He took them to Bielsko. After a while, Edek brought some more people to me (always Jews) and took them to Bielsko again. Sometimes there were 30 people at my apartment at the same time. This went on from the spring of 1943 to February 1944, and during this time about 200 people passed through my apartment”.

Zofia herself took care of the ghetto escapees. Train tickets were bought for them by Pawel Jaworski, who also took them across the southern border. During one such action in 1944, Jaworski was murdered. 

On 26 March 1944, Zofia was arrested by Germans. As a result, she was taken to a prison in Katowice, where she stayed for 3 months, and spent another 3 months in a prison in Mysłowice. As a result of her family’s intervention, she was released in the fall of 1944. 

Zofia Klemens was awarded the Righteous Among the Nations Medal in 1964, the same year that the Kobylec family received their medals.

Jerusalem, 9.12.1961

My Dear, Dear Zofia! 

I was so touched that I probably couldn’t have been more touched if I had received a letter from the person closest to me. Initially, I wanted to write right back in our old style, using our language, and ask: so how are you, Muter? How are you doing? – But I thought to myself – maybe after so many years it’s not so easy to say “Muter” anymore, maybe I’m not the same Edek in your eyes, and well, we’re separated by time and distance. […] Believe me – I am not writing this out of politeness – but I have not forgotten you, and whoever met me and heard about my past also knew about the existence of Zofia Klemens. 

Let me tell you this today – if I have survived, have a home, a wife and children – it is largely thanks to you. But even that is not all – apart from the physical liberation, it seems that it is thanks to you that I have not lost my trust and faith in good honest people and in people who, on the surface, do not always make themselves known to others, are not cut out of cloth but forged out of something much more precious. 

I send my sincerest regards, Shmuel /formerly Edek/ 

Historians estimate that during WW2 Poles rescued tens of thousands of their fellow citizens of Jewish origin. The German occupiers killed about 1,000 Polish rescuers.

Source: Institute of National Remembrance



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