Zofia Baniecka, Poland

Zofia Baniecka was born in 1917 to a Catholic family in Warsaw, Poland. She was the only child of a father who was a sculptor and a mother who was a teacher. Zofia was raised in a liberal and cultured home and she attended school with many Jews.

In late 1940, the Baniecka family was forced to relocate when their home was included within the boundaries of the Warsaw ghetto. Soon after the ghetto was sealed, Zofia’s father, who had a close Jewish friend living within its walls, began to smuggle food and books to him. The following year, her father was killed in a Soviet air strike. By this time, Zofia and her mother had already become involved with the emerging Polish underground, which had found them a large apartment near the ghetto. Her mother stored and delivered guns to members of the Resistance while Zofia served as a courier relaying orders and distributing underground newspapers in the provinces.

During the winter of 1941, Zofia and her mother began hiding Jews as well as guns and ammunition in their apartment. When their house was full, they helped Jews find other hiding places. At least 50 Jews were sheltered in their home from 1941 to 1944, including a family of 10 who escaped from the burning ghetto in April 1943.

After the war, Zofia was arrested by Soviet authorities but was ultimately released. Years later, she and her husband were active in the Solidarity movement of the 1980′s.

Edited by Stephanie Surach