Jadwiga Suchodolska lived with her family in the village of Krzynowloga Wielka, a short distance north of Warsaw. One night in 1943, a man named Michal Szaft knocked on the door. Michal said he had managed to escape from the Warsaw ghetto. He asked for food and shelter.
Michal had left the village to study law in Warsaw. However, World War II changed everything for this young Jewish man. He had participated in the Warsaw ghetto uprising. Escaping, he had wandered back to the village.
Jadwiga’s parents, Adam and Stanislawa, decided to take Michal in. They kept Michal’s presence in their home a secret. A pit was prepared in the granary, the opening of which was covered with animal fodder.
Jadwiga, with help from her parents and her little brother Stanislaw, regularly fed Michal. She would approach the granary through the chicken coop, ostensibly to feed the poultry. Michal later recalled, ”The food was handed to me through a narrow crack. In the winter, rain penetrated the pit. But in spite of the discomforts, I resolved to make it through.”
Over time, Jadwiga began to develop a friendship with Michal. He had to spend almost two years hiding in the granary pit, until the village’s liberation on January 15, 1945.
Although no longer in hiding, Michal stayed on with Jadwiga and her family for a while. Eventually, Michal and Jadwiga were married. They left the village and emigrated to Israel in 1957.
”I come from a very devout Catholic family,” Jadwiga wrote afterwards. ”My family and I did what we did because we wished to observe the commandment of ‘Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.’
On July 15, 1975, Yad Vashem recognized Jadwiga Suchodolska (the feminine form of Suchodolski) as Righteous Among the Nations. Also commemorated were Jadwiga’s father, Adam Suchodolski, her mother, Stanislawa Suchodolska, and her brother, Stanislaw Suchodolski.