Marianna Imiolek-Gajowniczek, Poland

Marianna Imiolek-Gajowniczek lived in Warsaw with her parents Antoni and Czeslawa. In August 1943, an acquaintance asked Czeslawa to hide two Jews, as that person was already hiding three other people. They were Leon Weinstein and his sister-in-law Bronislawa Szafran. Marianna’s parents took them in and instructed their ten-year-old daughter to tell friends, if asked, that Leon and Bronislawa were her uncle and aunt.

Antoni built a hiding place in the cellar concealed by coal, where Leon and Bronislawa hid in time of danger. Normally, however, they stayed upstairs with the family. Marianna would usually stand guard lest a neighbor stopped by for a surprise visit. One day, the Germans raided the Imiolek home. Antoni managed to conduct Leon to the cellar and escaped with Bronislawa into the garden. Czeslawa was badly beaten, but the Jews were not discovered.

Several months later, Leon went out for food and was caught in a general roundup. When he did not return, Czeslawa sent 11 year old Marianna to look for him. Catching sight of him in a group of Jews surrounded by armed Germans, she exclaimed: ”Uncle, come home. I was looking for you. Mother waits with dinner.” Incredibly, she led him away from the roundup and they made it home.

Everyone in the Imiolek household survived the war. After the liberation, Leon and Czeslawa moved to the United States.