Oral history
History witnesses

Irena Senderska-Rzońca

Interlocutor name:
Interlocutor surname:
Klara Jackl
Przemysław Jaczewski
Catalogue number:
Recording date:
7th July 2014
Recording location:
Recording duration:
Recording language:
Recording copyright:
POLIN Museum of the History of the Polish Jews
Poles Who Rescued Jews During the Holocaust

Related places

Interlocutor biogram

Irena Senderska-Rzońca (nee Kryształowska) was born in 1931 in Borysław. Before the war, the interviewee’s father, Józef, was a taxi driver, he also worked as a driver in the Borysław fire brigade. From that time the Kryształowski family knew the Jewish doctor Elias Bandera. With the outbreak of the German-Soviet war, Irena Senderska-Rzońca observes subsequent anti-Jewish pogroms, liquidation actions and the creation of the ghetto. Despite the difficult situation of her own family, Irena's parents decide to help the people locked in the ghetto: they deliver food and, at the request of Elias Bader, Irena smuggles a parcel containing medicines into the ghetto. Soon, Dr. Bandera asks them to hide his wife Regina and his six-year-old son Myron. The Kryształowski family agrees to hide them and prepares a hiding place in the attic of the outbuilding. Irena delivers food to the hiding people, takes away the impurities and brings toys for the boy. The Bandera family survives the war and emigrates to the United States, where years later Irena Senderska-Rzońca will meet Myron.

The Kryształowski family leaves Borysław and, as part of the repatriation, settles in Wałbrzych. In 2000 Irena Senderska-Rzońca is awarded the title of Righteous Among the Nations.

Recording circumstances description

 The interview was recorded at the POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews.

Recording summary

  1. The interviewee’s place of birth; names of individual members of the interviewee's family; 00:00:20
  2. Description of the housing conditions of the interviewee's family during the occupation; 00:00:58
  3. Description of the town of Borysław in 1939: population, industry, ethnic composition; 00:02:20
  4. Inter-ethnic relations in primary school; 00:03:46
  5. German and Soviet occupation of Borysław in 1939; 00:05:50
  6. Warfare in Borysław after 22 June 1941; the interviewee's father’s work in the fire brigade; 00:06:00
  7. The first anti-Jewish pogrom in Borysław: participation of the Ukrainian population, murder of the local baker called “Bulka”, beginning of anti-Semitic propaganda, reaction of the interviewee's brother to the death of the baker “Bulka”; 00:07:40
  8. Everyday life during the occupation from 1941: obtaining food by the interviewee's mother in the villages surrounding Borysław, deportations to Siberia; 00:10:22
  9. Deportations from the Jewish ghetto in Borysław, liquidation of the ghetto: digging mass graves, shooting; 00:12:56
  10. Help provided to the Jewish population of the Borysław ghetto: provision of food; 00:15:39
  11. Communication between the ghetto and the city, marches of the Jewish population through the city; 00:16:10
  12. Elias Bandera's request to smuggle a package of medicines into the ghetto, the interviewee's entry into the ghetto; 00:18:50
  13. Description of the ghetto: urban layout; 00:21:33
  14. The hiding place of Dr. Elias Bander's daughter and wife; 00:22:30
  15. Hiding Myron and Regina by a German family; taking the hidden mother and child to the ghetto; 00:23:30
  16. Bandera's request to save their life addressed to the interviewee's father, doubts of the interviewee's mother's; 00:25:00
  17. Preparation of a hiding place in the attic; 00:25:45
  18. The first meeting of the interviewee with the Jewish mother and child taken out of the ghetto - placing them in a hideout in the attic; 00:26:30
  19. Information about the liquidation of the ghetto; Dr. Bandera's request to hide him; hiding Dr. Bander in the hideout; 00:27:00
  20. Suspicions of the neighbour due to the interviewee’s regular visits; the family is scared because of the suspicions; 00:29:05
  21. Food during the occupation; 00:30:45
  22. Everyday life in hiding: spending time in hiding; 00:31:00
  23. Food during the occupation: obtaining food; 00:32:30
  24. The acquaintance of the interviewee's father with Dr. Bandera; 00:34:00
  25. Public infrastructure in Borysław; pipelines; public utility buildings; “kasarnie” buildings inhabited by workers; 00:35:00
  26. Poverty and economic crisis in Borysław; oil extracted by the poor from the marshes surrounding Borysław; 00:38:25
  27. Oil quotas imposed by successive occupying authorities; 00:40:20
  28. Characteristics of the Jewish community in Borysław: occupation; location of the ghetto; 00:41:10
  29. Jewish customs and traditions in the recollections of the interviewee; the interviewee’s reflections on Orthodox Jews; 00:43:50
  30. The interviewee's reflections concerning her visit to the Orthodox Jewish quarter in New York; 00:45:30
  31. Topography of Borysław, location and characteristics of the interviewee’s house and garden; location of the hiding place; 00:47:20
  32. The activities taken up by the boy, Myron, in hiding; 00:53:13
  33. Division of duties in the interviewee's family; 00:54:22
  34. Danger of denunciation; psychological costs of help; bomb alarms; 00:55:00
  35. Withdrawal of the German army and actions to prevent the destruction of Borysław's industrial infrastructure; 00:59:30
  36. Stationing of a German field kitchen in the courtyard of the interviewee's family's house; stationing of a Soviet field kitchen - fear of those in hiding to leave their hiding place after liberation by the Red Army; 01:00:30
  37. Positive reactions of the neighbours (the Baran family) to the disclosure of the fact of hiding; 01:05:00
  38. Description of the interviewee's family flat: bed arrangement, heating; 01:09:00
  39. Breeding animals on the interviewee’s farm: a goat, pigs; 01:11:00
  40. Characteristics of the father and mother from the perspective of the interviewee; 01:12:30
  41. Involvement of the interviewee's brother in helping those in hiding and providing food for the whole family; 01:15:10
  42. The interviewee's memories of the Bandera couple; 01:16:20
  43. The fate of those in hiding after liberation and leaving their hiding place: organization of the hospital by Dr. Bandera, farewell and departure of the Bandera family to Łódź; 01:18:24
  44. The arrival of people from the Soviet Union in Borysław, the occupation of the flat by a Russian engineer and the departure of the interviewee's family to Poland; an attempt to transport the book collection by the interviewee's father; arrival in Wałbrzych; 01:23:00
  45. The settlement of the interviewee’s family in a flat in Wałbrzych; 01:26:50
  46. Emigration of the Bandera family to the United States; correspondence between the interviewee’s family and the rescued; 01:27:43
  47. Visits of the interviewee in the United States and meeting the rescued Miron; 01:28:00
  48. Circumstances of awarding the title of Righteous Among the Nations to the interviewee; 01:35:00
  49. Description of the descent of those hiding in the attic; persuading Dr. Bandera to leave the hiding place; donation of the last suit to Dr. Bandera by the interviewee's father; 01:39:30
  50. Motivations for helping Bandera's family - the interviewee’s reflections; 01:43:25
  51. Miron Bandera’s marriage and career; self-identity of Miron; 01:54:00
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