Canadian Shoah survivor reunites with Polish savior

Wladyslaw Misiuna, 85, from Poland, and Sara Marmurek, 88, from Canada had not seen each other since the war.

November 24, 2010 22:58
3 minute read.
Wladyslaw Misiuna and Sara Marmurek

Wladyslaw Misiuna and Sara Marmurek. (photo credit: Courtesy)

NEW YORK – On Tuesday afternoon at JFK airport in New York City, a Holocaust survivor was reunited with the Polish man who rescued her from the Nazis, after not having seen one another for 65 years.

Wladyslaw Misiuna, 85, from Poland, and Sara Marmurek, 88, from Canada had not seen each other since the war.

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They were reunited by the Jewish Foundation for the Righteous, a New York-based non-profit organization which identifies, honors and financially supports non-Jews who risked their lives to save Jews during the Holocaust. The organization flew them in to the US as an illustration of gratitude in time for the Thanksgiving holiday.

“Mr. Misiuna helped me. He gave us food. And he told us what’s going on in the world,” Marmurek told the New York One cable news channel. “If they [the Nazis] found [out] he brought food for us, he could have been shot. If they found out he tells us what’s going in the world, he could have been shot. Anything he did [sic].”

When asked why he did what he did, Misiuna said through an interpreter, “I acted as a human, as a human who was able to help and not only look at it [the persecution] and walk away.”

In the summer of 1943, Marmurek had been taken from the Sandomierz ghetto in Poland to Radom, where she was imprisoned at women’s slave labor camp Szkolna.

Inmates at Szkolna were forced to work in an Austrian-owned armaments factory.

Misiuna, a local Polish teenager, saw the way the women were treated as they were marched to the factory, and it upset him. He got a job tending the factory owner’s rabbit farm, and convinced German troops to allow Marmurek and four other women inmates to help him in the farm.

During the work day, Misiuna fed the women and gave them medicine and clothing.

At one point, one of the women became very ill, and Misiuna deliberately infected himself so that he could get the appropriate medicine to treat her. He wrote poems for the women, and tried to give them hope and the will to live through their ordeal.

“These young Jewish women and I lived like a family,” Misiuna recalled.

The Szkolna camp was “liquidated” on July 25, 1944. Misiuna was in the fields, collecting grass for the rabbits, and returned to find that the women he had been working with had been marched to another location, and from there, were sent to Auschwitz in August of 1944.

While most Jews arriving at Auschwitz at that point were gassed immediately, the five women, having been fed proper food by Misiuna for over a year, were healthy enough to be kept alive to be put on work detail. In November 1944, they were transferred to the Ober- Alstadt slave labor camp.

In the meantime, after the Szkolna camp was liquidated, Misiuna was denounced to the Germans and sentenced to death. He escaped and remained in hiding until Radom was liberated in January 1945.

In early May 1945, the five women were liberated by the Soviet army, attributing their survival in no small part to the kindness shown to them by Misiuna.

“I thank God that I have the opportunity to say thank you to him in person for what he did,” Marmurek said. The two will spend the Thanksgiving holiday together.

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