Józef Kania lived in Warsaw with his wife Ludmiła and son Andrzej (born in 1939). Before the war he worked at the weapons factory in Fort Wola. In 1939 Józef became the owner of a house in the village of Blizne Jasińskiego on the outskirts of Warsaw. Moving into his new apartment was halted by the outbreak of the war.
At the end of 1942, his friend from the weapons factory, Mr Golb, came to see him. The man asked him to provide his home in Bliznem to his family. He explained to him, that he was looking for a quiet place to stay at, because Żoliborze became a very dangerous area. Man asked in other places, but everyone refused him. Golb family, accompanied by a 5-year-old girl Marta, moved into the house. The girl was introduced to Józef as the daughter of Mrs Golb’s deceased sister.
Over time, Joseph began to suspect, and rightly so, that Marta was a Jewess. Golb family took care of her, after the Gestapo took her parents to Auschwitz.
Everyone knew each other in their block of flats, and Golbs were afraid, that they would recognize Marta as a Jewess. Barbara Kowalska, daughter of Kania, recalls: „My father, after learning about Marta’s origin, went into shock. Worst of all, Golbs lied to him. As he said, he was afraid of making a decision. Both sides were in grave danger. On one hand: his wife and son Andrzej. Also, my mother, was pregnant with me at the time. On the other hand, there were they. He didn’t have much time to make a decision. So he made a choice: you can stay”.”1.
When Warsaw was becoming more dangerous, Joseph with his family also moved to Blizne. Living together carried a greater risk. „I can’t imagine, what my parents experienced. They all lived together. In the meantime, I was born. Gestapo visited us in Blizne many times, looking for the brother of Mr Golb, who was an underground activist. They brought us outside, searched the house, and a Jewess was among us. It worked.”2.
In 1944, when the Warsaw uprising broke out, several people from the Kania family escaped to Blizne. When the German troops arrived in the capital with the intention of destroying the city, the soldiers occupied some of the more beautiful houses near Warsaw. This fate didn’t avoid the house, in which the Kania family lived: half of the building was occupied by the German army and some of the inhabitants were simply thrown out. Burning papers reached Blizne, and the glow over Warsaw shone so brightly that it made the day out of the night. What my parents were going through can’t be described. […] I admire my parents. They are heroes to me. I would have never been able to do what they have done”3. After the war Golbs, along with Marta, left Blizne, in which they spent last three years.
In 1989, the family of Józef and Ludmiła was unexpectedly visited by the Marta, now know as Miriam Kleiman. Barbara remembers this meeting: „She found the house despite not knowing the address. I didn’t know who she was, I thought it was a mistake. My father told me a lot about the war, about the uprising, but never mentioned her. She greeted me with the words: „Your father, Józef Kania, saved my life. If not for him, I wouldn’t be alive” She told me about her experiences and about the fear, tremendous fear. She went to Israel at the age of 18, lives there still. She married an American Jew, has two children and, as she said, she is very rich. Since then, I never saw her again. Only after that meeting, did my father tell me how it was with Marta. He also remembers the fear, the fear and the horror”.4
- 1. FLV, List od Barbary Kowalskiej (z d. Kania), Warszawa, 05.09.2013 r.
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