Now, however, thanks to a long-forgotten letter, 35-year-old Jurzik has uncovered the truth about how her family saved and hid two Jewish sisters from the Nazis.
Having moved to Stockholm as a child, Jurczyk grew up hearing about her great-grandfather’s bravery from her grandparents – although the details were scant.
“I was very close to my grandparents,” she told Granthshala. “I spent every school holiday with them in Poland and World War II was very present because they both survived it.”
Her grandfather, Stanisaw Jurzik, told her that in 1942, at the age of 12, while playing at the family farm in Göstchörz – a village about 68 miles east of Warsaw – she stumbled upon two women, both aged 20.
Shocked, he told his parents, who revealed that they had been hiding since finding the sisters in their fields.
“They were badly beaten and very weak,” Karolina Jurczyk, who worked as a pattern maker for H&M in Stockholm, told Granthshala. According to her grandfather, the sisters were orphans – but they talked little about their past.
Stanisaw was administered the oath of secrecy by his father – also known as Stanisaw. That same year, his mother, Helena, died in childbirth – leaving Stanislav Senior raises the children alone, while still protecting the women.
Jurzik did not know his great-grandfather, who died in 1989, and his surviving relatives knew nothing of the sisters’ fate after leaving the farm two years later.
But when her father, 60-year-old Wojciech, recently received a letter, his interest was piqued. Torn and scattered in the old Polish language, it was almost impossible to understand the correspondence about which his grandfather sometimes spoke.
However, one thing was clear: the names of the correspondents – Fela and Jadzia Kejman. Jurzyk, who until then only knew the women’s first names, ventured online for clues.
A simple online search returned the names of both sisters
Karen Norman, 42, a New York-based real estate agent, responded. She is the granddaughter of Jadzia, whose full name was Jadwiga.
Norman was aware of the rescue, but in less detail than Jurzik, as, like many Holocaust survivors, his grandmother and great-aunt rarely spoke about their experiences or their early life in Poland. . What she could share, however, was that both sisters raised families in North America; Her grandmother in Toronto, while Fella – short for Felicia – settled in Chicago.
“I had tears in my eyes, I’m so glad to hear that they survived,” Jurczyk said.
The process is complicated but if successful, the official honor would rank him among other Gentiles who took great risks to save Jews during the war – among them Oscar Schindler, Raoul Wallenberg, and Mip Gies, who played Anne Frank. helped to hide.
The timing of the discovery is even more poignant as both the families were bereaved for the past one year.
While Norman’s grandmother had died several years earlier, her great-aunt, Fella, only passed away in December at the age of 103.
And Jurzik’s grandfather, Stanisaw, died in March after suffering from dementia. However, he lived long enough to hear the news.
“My grandfather obviously got very emotional,” Jurczyk told Granthshala, as he learned from the father of his son, Jurczyk, that the sisters’ ties with the family had formed. “Somewhere deep inside he knew they were safe.”
Though he regrets not acting sooner, Jurczyk says that joining up with Norman has lessened the loss of his grandfather’s death.
“I think our ancestors had such a great connection and it’s almost like I’ve been a part of it too.
“I’m not a very spiritual person, but somehow I feel his energy with me and it’s comforting – it’s like he’s saying… ‘You’re doing a great job.'”
When MyHeritage heard the story, they had the letter professionally translated.
Addressed to Stanisaw Sr., it was dated February 10, 1948 and was sent from a displaced persons camp in Bamberg, within the US-controlled part of Germany.
He wrote: “A lot of time has passed since the day we said goodbye to you. However, we cannot express our heartfelt thanks to you for all the good you have done for us. We are in this noble act of our defense. Will never forget work. Life.”
The women described Jurzik’s great-grandfather as “a man who has done the best and greatest act of saving human life” and expressed their “deepest gratitude”.
He spoke of “a new stage in life” on “blood-soaked German soil”, but outlined plans to emigrate “beyond the borders of Europe”.
It appears that Fella physically wrote the letter saying that her sister was married and had a child, while she had “a very loving husband”.
She adds: “My husband already knows you from my accounts and has asked me to greet and shake hands.”
Signing off, she expressed her intention to keep in touch, saying, “The bond of our friendship must be unbreakable.”
second letter appears
Recently, Jurzik’s father uncovered another letter in his father’s belongings. In this one from November 22, 1949, Fella tells that she and her husband arrive in the United States after a treacherous sea crossing. She explains that her sister and family live in Germany but hope to leave soon.
An emotional Norman told Granthshala that hearing from Jurczyk “felt like a sign.”
“When I got the message it was the most incredible and saddest thing at the same time. I truly believe it was a signal my great-aunt sent us.”
Norman said she first joined MyHeritage to try to find answers about the sisters’ past.
“Everything was a mystery. We don’t know how they got there or where they were going. There were some pieces we knew but they told us very little.”
Norman has received no letter in reply, but she hasn’t yet gone through all of her aunt’s belongings.
Norman said, “Even though the letters don’t contain a lot of information, it still makes me cry reading them. Just knowing how much Mr. Jurzik means to him,” Norman said.
‘They lived because of him’
So far, the two women have communicated only through online messages, but they are expected to speak on the phone soon.
“I wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for her great-grandfather,” Norman said.
“They lived because of him. Someone who just sees them as people and deserves to be saved. How do you thank someone’s family for generations like that?”
According to MyHeritage researcher Nitay Elboym, many people researching their family history see the Holocaust as a “black hole”, but evolving technology provides an “opportunity to address a serious lack of information”. does.
“We believe that rescue stories are particularly important, because they inspire us to do the right thing on a human level, even if it means taking extraordinary risks,” he said.
Credit : www.cnn.com