Oral history
History witnesses

Jolanta Chmurowska

Interlocutor name:
Interlocutor surname:
Krzysztof Banach
Przemysław Jaczewski
Catalogue number:
Recording date:
6th August 2014
Recording location:
Recording duration:
Recording language:
Recording copyright:
Museum of the History of Polish Jews POLIN
Poles Active in the Protection of Jewish Heritage


Israel, Occupation, Hiding of Jews.

Related places

Interlocutor biogram

Jolanta Chmurowska was born in Staszów in 1933. After her father left the family and headed to the town of Olkusz to find employment, Chmurowska was raised by her mother in the home of her grandparents, the Raczyński’s. A large number of flats in the house, which belonged to her grandparents, were rented to Jewish tenants. In her childhood years, Jolanta Chmurowska was a regular visitor in the flats of the Jewish tenants she knew and her family maintained a close relationship with them.

The best childhood friend of Jolanta Chmurowska was Ryfcia Najman, who lived with her family in the Raczyńscy house. Visits in the Najman home introduced Jolanta Chmurowska to the world of Jewish traditions and holidays. During the war, Ryfcia was hiding in Staszów, and later in eastern Poland. She survived the war and when it finished, she emigrated to Israel. She met Jolanta Chmurowska again in the first years after the war and later during a family visit to Poland. The time of occupation was also tragic for the Raczyńscy family, mainly because of the incarceration and death of Ignacy Raczyński, grandfather’s brother, in a concentration camp.

After the war, Jolanta Chmurowska continued her education, which had been interrupted by the war. At the age of 18, just before her secondary school final examinations, she was arrested by the Department of Public Security and spent three months in prison because of her links with the anti-communist underground organisation “Młode Wojsko Polskie” (Young Polish Army). Her incarceration provided Jolanta Chmurowska with difficulties when applying for university, however, she managed to gain a degree in Polish studies at the Catholic University of Lublin. After a short period of employment at a construction company and bank, she began working as an education counselor until her retirement.

Recording summary

  1. Childhood at the house of the grandparents in Staszów, Jewish tenants, friendship with Ryfcia Najman, the fate of Ryfcia during the occupation and her photographs, 01:47
  2. Jews in Staszów before the war, everyday life of Jews in Staszów, visits to the Najman home and celebrating Jewish holidays, 10:39
  3. Methods of earning money and social relations among Jews in Staszów, story of love of Trana Wolman and Adam Ćwikło, a Pole, 23:14
  4. Jewish shops and trade before the Shabbat, 31:23
  5. Relations with Jewish tenants, Jewish shoemakers in Staszów, competition between Jewish and Polish craftsmen, photographs of the tenants, 32:53
  6. The relationship of the tenants becoming closer before the outbreak of the war, first days of September and hiding in a forest, entry of Germans into Staszów, first antisemitic repressions, 43:05
  7. Saving a life thanks to summoning a doctor after the curfew by a Jewish female friend, 50:40
  8. The beginning of the occupation: Jews being acquaintances of Germans, concert of Jewish females known to Jolanta Chmurowska with a German officer, 53:04
  9. Deportation to the ghetto, forced labour, liquidation of the ghetto, story of a farmer delivering water, rescue of Ryfcia and post-war meetings, 55:07
  10. Shooting of a Jewish woman with a child who was in hiding, rescue of the child by aunt Chorzelska, rescue of a boy by man named Belka, hiding Jews by a family of railway workers under the watchful eye of the Germans, 01:03:15
  11. Parents and family history, arrest of the grandfather’s brother, death of Ignacy Raczyński 01:10:46
  12. Education during the occupation, underground education, tailoring workshops in a synagogue, 01:20:57
  13. Bombing of Staszów and passing of the front, displacement, return to Staszów and continuation of education, 01:26:37
  14. Grandfather Raczyński, his brothers and their passion for learning, entry of the Soviets and their admiration for the grandfather, storing the school library at their family home, bombing, quotas during the occupation and denouncement, 01:30:50
  15. The end of the war, further education, arrest by UB and imprisonment, failing the exam to study medicine because of the arrest, studying Polish studies at the Catholic University of Lublin, difficulties with finding employment, 01:42:51
  16. Working for a refurbishment and construction company, refurbishing houses once belonging to Jews, working at a bank, 01:49:05
  17. Marriage and moving to Złotoryja, working in a school, 01:55:00
  18. Forced sale of the land in Staszów, working in a school in Staszów, husband's death, description of family members, 01:58:39
  19. Ryfcia’s fate: hiding in Staszów, Ryfcia recognised by a Polish woman, escape from the town, emigration to Israel, marriage to a man from Staszów, looking at photographs of Ryfcia, her family, house and the place where she was hiding, information on her friend’s death, 02:04:31
  20. Synagogue in Staszów, matzevahs used to pave roads, the market square and destruction of the synagogue, 02:13:54
  21. Return of Ryfcia after the war, returns of Jews and appropriation of the Jewish property by the state, 02:18:53
  22. Arrest by UB, incarceration, being tortured and heavy sentences for her friends, 02:22:38
  23. Studies in Lublin, return to Staszów, Polish patriotism in education, contacts with Jews after returning to Staszów, 02:34:41
  24. The Holocaust as part of the curriculum during the communist time, propaganda elements in the socialist education model, 02:47:52
  25. Returns of Jews and searching for one’s roots, meeting Ryfcia and giving her a key to her flat, opinion on taking over the Jewish property after the war, 02:47:52
  26. Jewish themes in schooling curriculum, Polish and Jewish relations, antisemitism and the need for tolerance, Polish and Jewish marriages before the war in Staszów - denouncement and help during the occupation, 02:56:18
  27. Looking at photographs together, 03:07:17
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