Hassenfeld Marian

Marian Hassenfeld - Personal data
Date of birth: 28th August 1901
Place of birth: Częstochowa
Date of death: 17th April 1993
Place of death: Częstochowa
Occupation: lawyer in Częstochowa, social and local government activist, activist of the Council to Aid Jews

Hassenfeld Marian (28 August 1901, Częstochowa – 17 April 1993, Częstochowa), lawyer in Częstochowa, social and local government activist, activist of the Council to Aid Jews, organiser of higher education in Częstochowa.

Born on 28 August 1901, in Częstochowa, in the family of Józef (1863-1925) and Stanisława Gustawa, née Ebersman. The Hassenfelds arrived in Poland from Germany in the middle of the 17th century, fleeing persecution of the Jews. Initially, the Hassenfelds settled down in Galicia and moved to the Kingdom of Poland later on. The grandfather of Jehuda Hassenfeld was born around 1835 and died around 1908. He lived in the village of Rędziny near Częstochowa, where he ran a small farm. Hassenfeld's father, Joseph, spoke Hebrew, Yiddish, German and Russian. He was an active merchant. The family on the mother's side came to Poland from Germany approximately 400 years ago, and their Jewish ancestors had probably left Portugal earlier. His grandfather, on his mother's side, Mordechaj Joseph Ebersman, studied the Talmud and Jewish sciences. The future lawyer was given the biblical name of Mordechai, after his father, and his Polish name, Marian, was entered in the birth certificate. Hassenfeld's mother, Stanisława, was shot during the liquidation of the Częstochowa ghetto when she refused to leave the family home at 30 Garibaldi Street.

He had three sisters, Fryda, Helena and Natalia. Fryda married Herman Kremski. They had 2 sons - Jan Kremski, married to Gustawa née Librowicz, and Norbert Leon Kremski. Norbert Leon Kremski graduated from the Faculty of Law at the University of Warsaw and, before the Second World War, he began his law apprenticeship at the office of his uncle Marian. He died during the Częstochowa ghetto uprising, fighting in the ranks of the Jewish Combat Organisation. Helena, married to Wekstein, had a strong influence on the further education of her younger brother, Marian. His mother, an extremely religious person, wanted Marian to become a rabbi, while Helena, a participant in the revolutionary movement of 1905 and a woman with secular, progressive views, convinced her father that her brother should attend a lower secondary school. Later on, Hassenfeld admited that he had his higher level education thanks to his sister Helena. The youngest sister, Natalia, graduated from a Jewish lower secondary school. Her daughter was Irena Librowicz, known as Irit Amiel later on (born on 5 May 1930).

In 1920. Hassenfeld graduated from the lower secondary school named after Henryk Sienkiewicz (presently IV LO). He got his Master of Laws degree from the University of Warsaw in 1926, and in the following year, he began his free law apprenticeship. He supported himself by working as a secretary and legal clerk at the Association of Merchants and Industrialists and as a legal advisor at Gnaszyńska Manufaktura S.A., where his future wife's brother was the chief engineer.

After passing the judicial examination in 1930, Hassenfeld started his legal apprenticeship. He trained as a counsel under the supervision of the well-thought-of civilian counsel Jan Glikson (the author of a textbook entitled Zarys najgłówniejszych zasad prawa spadkowego obowiązującego w b. Królestwie Kongresowym [Outline of the main principles of inheritance law in force in the former Congress Kingdom of Poland]). During his legal apprenticeship, he was involved in social activities. He was a vice-president of Stowarzyszenia Aplikantów Adwokackich i Sądowych w Częstochowie (association of advocate and court trainees), a member of Kieleckie Podkolegium Sędziów Piłki Nożnej (collegium of football referees), vice-president and president of the Regional Football Association in Kielce later on. He was a member of the management board and a treasurer at the "Warta" Sports Club in Częstochowa from 1928, and its president afterwards. He was an active member of Towarzystwie Dobroczynności dla Żydów (Jewish charity society), of which he was vice-president. In 1929, Hassenfeld married a lawyer Dorota Goldman, with whom he ran a law office from 1934, after passing the bar exam.

After the outbreak of war, Hassenfeld was a member of the Judenrat, the head of the Registration and Statistics Department of the Jewish Council of Elders. On 5 August 1940, based on suspicions of underground activity, he was arrested by the Gestapo and imprisoned in the detention facility at Mirowska Street in Częstochowa. After he was released, as a member of the Jewish Charity Society, he helped at the nursery home, an orphanage and a hospital in the ghetto in Częstochowa.

He escaped from the ghetto with his wife Dorota in 1941. Initially, he hid in the area of Koniecpol and, after making his way to Warsaw under the nickname of Hankiewicz, he was active in the underground Council to Aid Jews, "Żegota", under the Government Delegation for Poland. Marian and Dorota Hasenfeld, who were hiding in Warsaw, were found by Irena Librowicz, an eleven-year-old girl who, thanks to Aryan paperwork, managed to escape from the ghetto in Częstochowa just before its liquidation. She was looked after by her aunt and uncle until the end of the war. During the Warsaw Uprising, Hassenfeld and othe inhabitants of Marymontska Street were tranferred by the Germans to Wawrzyszewo, from where he managed to escape. They returned to Częstochowa with his wife Dorota and Irena Librowicz in February 1945.

After the war, the Hassenfelds reopened a private law office at 32 NMP Avenue. In 1952, Hassenfeld was authorised by the District Bar Council in Katowice to organise teams of lawyers in Częstochowa. From 1953, he was a member of the Advocacy Team No. 1.

Marian Hassenfeld was involved in organising post-war higher education in Częstochowa. In the years 1949-1951, he was a Vice-Rector of Wyższa Szkoła Ekonomiczna w Częstochowie (higher school of economics), WSE, and its Rector during the term 1956-1960. In 1961, he was appointed plenipotentiary of the Minister of Higher Education for the liquidation of the WSE. Then, he was a member of the Organising Committee of Szkoła Inżynierska w Częstochowie (school of engineering in Częstochowa). In 1952-1953 and 1960-1961, he taught fiscal law. He co-organised the District Commission for the Investigation of German Crimes, of which he became a Vice-Chairman. He took part in creating the structures of the Regional Court in Częstochowa. He co-founded the Association of Democratic Lawyers. He was a member of the Management Board of the Academic Staff Section of the Polish Teachers' Union.

Despite his retirement in 1976, he continued to be active in the local community. As a chairman of the Historical Committee of the Bar Council in Częstochowa, he studied the history of the Częstochowa-Piotrków bar. He was a member of the committee for the education of trainee counsels. He managed the Circle of Pensioners at the Bar Council in Częstochowa. He was active in the Polish Economic Society (in the audit committee) and in the Polish Tourist and Sightseeing Society. He published articles in "Ziemia Częstochowska". Together with Alfred Czarnota, he is a co-author of a study: “Wyższa Szkoła Ekonomiczna w Częstochowie” [The Higher School of Economics in Częstochowa] ("Ziemia Częstochowska" 1961, vol. IV).

In her report “Tajemnicą jest to...” [The secret is…] (which is the fourth part of “Biała Maria”), Hanna Krall masterfully portrays the profile of Marian Hassenfeld:

He was tall, slim, took care of his diet, went out for a walk every day – he used to wear the same coat, pre-war style, tailor-made in Vienna. He lived in a pre-war townhouse and knew the pre-war law. Thanks to this, he was able to teach commercial law and borrow a pre-war textbook by a professor from Lviv, Maurycy Allerhand. He selected his outfits carefully. A lawyer, he used to say, should emphasise the seriousness of his profession with his attire. The person should wear a suit, preferably a dark one, and a shirt, preferably white and with pins. He told off applicants who dared to come in wearing a jumper and without a tie. He collected paintings and was particularly fond of Kossak and Malczewski. He was a football referee. He was a lecturer. He read a lot. He had a portfolio at the Security Office and a questionnaire with many sections. In the section «Zabarwienie sprawy»  (Tint of the matter), there was an entry Zionism. In the section «Bliższe określenie zabarwienia»  (Closer definition of tint) – it was mentioned that he supported Israel, criticised Egypt and was astonished by the policy of the Soviet Union".

In a poignant manner, Hanna Krall describes the professional and personal challenge faced by the lawyer, Hassenfeld, when, shortly after the war, he was appointed a defender of a German gendarme before the Special Criminal Court. The Jewish lawyer, whose family members were murdered by the Germans, defended the German person accused of committing war crimes with the utmost diligence. Before his execution, the accused person asked the lawyer to speak to with him one last time in custody. The act of fulfilling the defence duty by advocate Hassenfeld goes down gloriously in the history of the Polish bar.

He died on 17 April 1993. He is burried in the Kule cemetery in Częstochowa, next to his wife Dorota. They had no children. He was granted, inter alia, the Gold Cross of Merit, the 10th Anniversary Medal and the Gold Badge of the TPPR.

Hassenfeld's niece Irena Librowicz, went to Palestine after the war. In a kibbutz, she met Chuzhe Amiel, whom she married. She became known as an Israeli poet, writer and translator, known under the name Irit Amiel (she made her debut in 1994 with a volume of poems in Hebrew, ‘’Egzamin z zagłady” [A Holocaust exam], and in 2000, her collection of short stories “Osmaleni” was nominated for the Nike literary award). Irit Amiel translated the works of the famous reporter Hanna Krall, inter alia, from Polish into Hebrew. One is tempted to repeat after Józef Czechowicz and Hanna Krall: "everything is connected and makes sense". As in the reports of Hanna Krall, the fates of the lawyer, the translator and the reporter intertwine in a surprising way. Irit Amiel translates Hanna Krall's reportages, Hanna Krall describes the fate of the lawyer, the translator owes the lawyer her salvation ...

Adam Kasperkiewicz


  • Adwokaci regionu częstochowskiego: słownik biograficzny, ed. J. Sętowski, A. Kasperkiewicz, pp. 93-95;
  • Archives of the Bar Association in Częstochowa, personal files;
  • Krall H., Biała Maria, Warsawa 2011;
  • Manuscript of the memories of Marian Hassenfeld, written in May 1982, deposited at the Centre for the Documentation of the History of Częstochowa;
  • Redzik A., Kotliński T. Historia Adwokatury, Warszawa 2012;
  • Sętowski J., Cmentarz Kule w Częstochowie. Przewodnik biograficzny, Częstochowa 2005;
  • Certificate of 10 June 1947 confirming that Marian Hassenfeld took part in the action of the Council to Aid Jews, drawn up and signed by Maurycy Grudziński - the Judge of the Supreme Court.

The first edition of the biography appeared in: Słownik Biograficzny Adwokatów Polskich A-Ż, vol. III (died in the years 1945-2010), Warszawa 2018, pp. 159-161.
Reprinted upon permission of the Supreme Bar Council.


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