It could be a film! At the end of August in Brzeszcze Nazielence, for the first time in her life, the daughter of a KL Auschwitz prisoner met the woman, who, along with her parents, helped him to survive in January 1945.
Joanna Cebulska is an educator at the Remembrance Museum of Land of Oświęcim Residents. She met Magdalena Dulińska, born in Torun, several years ago. Magda, who currently lives in Zaborze on the periphery of Oświęcim, has always loved this town.
During one of their meetings, Joanna spoke of her job at the Remembrance Museum and then heard the story of Magda’s grandfather- Józef Sobierajski – and the aid he received from Brzeszcze residents during WWII. Joanna determined to find them.
Józef Sobierajski was born in 1912. In September 1944, he was arrested by the Germans during one of their roundups in Warsaw and transported to KL Auschwitz, where he arrived 13th September. He was given the number 196 349. His health greatly deteriorated as a result of the months behind barbed wire. In January 1945, the Germans began to form evacuation columns. Józef was so ill and so weak that the Germans decided he was unfit for the march and left him in the camp. When the Germans had left, he and another prisoner decided to try and make it and looked for help in the surrounding area. They made it to the house of the Chowaniec family in the Nazielence part of Brzeszcze. As Zofia Walczyk, nee Chowaniec, recalls how she and her parents looked after the men for about a month.
After Sobierajski returned home, he and his family corresponded with the Chowaniec family. Nevertheless, the never saw each other again. Thanks to the inquisitiveness of Joanna Cebulska and invaluable help from Teresa Jankowska, District Board member and Brzeszcze activist, it was possible to find the Chowaniec family.
On Thursday, 26th August 2021, in a Brzeszcze home, four women met for the first time in their lives. Zofia Walczyk, her daughter Helena Wajdzik, Krystyna Dulińska (Sobierajski’s daughter) and her daughter Magda. They were accompanied by Joanna Cebulska and Teresa Jankowska. During an emotional evening, they shared many memories and browsed many photos and documents.
“I felt like I was at a family gathering,” an emotional Zofia Walczyk said as the time came to leave.
And so, yet another unknown to the wider world story of aid rendered by residents of this district has come to light.
History comes full circle. Were it not for the Chowaniec family from Brzeszcze, and their rescue of Józef Sobierajski, Krystyna would not be on this earth and her daughter Magda would not be living in Zaborze today – a village 10km from the place where 76 years ago her grandfather found help in a Brzeszcze home.
On the steps of the home in Brzeszcze Nazielence (from left): Joanna Cebulska, Magdalena Dulińska, Krystyna Dulińska, Zofia Walczyk, Helena Wajdzik, Teresa Jankowska.