Maria Kotarba, Poland

Maria Kotarba, a Catholic, vowed to help the Jews after the extermination of her Jewish neighbors. She joined the Resistance and was later betrayed and sent to Auschwitz. As a political prisoner, Maria worked in the gardening Kommando. She smuggled medicine to prisoner-doctors by joining a group of prisoners going to the infirmary, escorted by Lena Lakomy, who was also a prisoner. When Lena had typhus, Maria brought soup made from vegetables taken from the SS garden. When Lena was assigned to quarrying gravel by hand, which would have killed her, Maria managed to have her assigned to lighter duties. Maria helped Lena’s sister as well as other Jewish prisoners. In January 1945, on the death march to Ravensbr├╝ck, Maria found Lena almost dead in the snow and carried her to a barracks. After liberation, Maria returned to her home in Poland. Lena married and settled in Britain. Maria Kotarba died in 1956.

Edited by Stephanie Surach