Instytut Pileckiego

Why did they help? The families of those called by name answer:

"They loved people: they didn't refuse the Jews who asked for help"

therefore we have to know

to count exactly

call by the first name

provide for a journey

Zbigniew Herbert (transl. Bogdana and John Carpenter)

 

The “Called by Name” are Poles who were murdered by the Germans for helping Jews who were at risk of extermination in the Holocaust during the German occupation. Over the years, their fate has been unable to resonate in the collective memory, and they have rarely been mentioned in Polish and international historical discourse. Documents and testimonies have remained lost and scattered in the archives; material traces have gradually been destroyed. Today, only the memory of these heroes, preserved by families and local communities, is disseminated and becomes our common concern.

 

Idea

As part of the “Called by Name” project, the Pilecki Institute is recovering the stories of Poles who paid for saving Jews from the Holocaust with their own lives and the lives of their loved ones. The program combines research, historical education and various other activities concerning the culture of remembrance.

Archival research, which serves to accurately retrace the events in question, is accompanied by visits to the scenes of the crime – most often in small towns and villages – interviews with witnesses and filmed recordings of testimonies. Of paramount importance is the establishment of a relationship with the families of the victims and the descendants of the rescued Jews, if these latter managed to survive. In each case, the highlight is the unveiling of a stone with an inscription that commemorates the murdered Poles and the rescued Jews who died with them in both Polish and English. It becomes a permanent sign of remembrance of the heroes in the public space where tragic events took place. Integrating the milieu of the “Called by Name” families helps them to cope with the difficult experiences of their past. Thanks to meetings and educational workshops for young people, local communities can learn and understand their own history. A broad information campaign serves to introduce the fate of the “Called by Name” to the collective memory in Poland and around the world.

The “Called by Name” project aims to do justice to the heroic acts of Poles who consciously risked their own lives and the lives of their loved ones to help Jewish friends, neighbors, and sometimes strangers, and paid the highest price. At the same time, the project highlights the realities of the ruthless German occupation policy in Poland, which destroyed all ties of solidarity between Poles and Jews, and punished the slightest human gesture of compassion with death. The “Called by Name” also convey a universal message of courage, sacrifice and solidarity with the persecuted, which set the measure of the radical evil of totalitarianism and genocide. By restoring the stories of the “Called by Name” to their proper place in our memory, we discover the meaning of their sacrifice, which – as it turns out – was not at all in vain.

Location

Living memory must plant its roots where the tragic events took place. These were usually small towns or farmsteads located on the outskirts of villages, on the edge of forests. After murdering the Poles and Jews who were being aided, the Germans burned down the houses, plundered belongings, and forbade burying the dead. The “Called by Name” project was born out of the need to mark the places where our heroes lived and died in the public space. This is where the ceremonies are held and the commemorative monuents unveiled.

The Pilecki Institute has developed a coherent and legible method of visual identification for the  memorial sites. The material sign of the commemoration is a plaque with an inscription in Polish and English, affixed to a stone. It is a permanent element of the landscape, evokes the names and surnames of victims – both Poles and Jews – and becomes a meeting place for the local community.

 

Family

The “Called by Name” left behind their loved ones – parents, spouses, orphaned children. While the historians’ literary narrative usually breaks off on the day of the death of the rescuers and the rescued, a new chapter of life was just beginning for the survivors. Deprived of their homes, livelihoods, education, the families of the victims struggled to live their lives in the post-war reality. Burdened by trauma, they reluctantly returned to painful memories. They could not count on the support of the Communist state and were not always understood by the people. However, they did not allow the memory to perish, and passed it on to future generations.

The families of the “Called by Name” are at the heart of our project. They are honorary guests at the commemorations; we listen to their voices during the ceremony. Thanks to them, we have been able to reach previously unknown certificates, documents and photos. We also try to take care of them. The integration of the families facilitates an exchange of experiences among people with similar stories, fosters intergenerational dialogue and overcoming trauma. The first meeting of the “Called by Name” families took place in Brok on the Bug river in 2019.

 

Local community

Local communities are the natural custodians of the memory of the “Called by Name”. The project assumes close cooperation with local authorities, schools, parishes, associations and scout organizations. Commemorations take place in agreement and in cooperation with local communities; thus the stories of the “Called by Name” become their property and permanently shape their identity. Workshops for young people, conducted by educators from the Pilecki Institute, spark the interest in the fate of our heroes and local history in general.

 

Context

The project is based on the profound contextualization of history. We discuss the fate of the “Called by Name” in an unisolated way, taking the complex circumstances into account. The basic context is the Holocaust, the German plan to exterminate all European Jews during World War II. It particularly affected the territories of the occupied Second Republic of Poland, where the Jewish community of nearly 3.5 million people almost ceased to exist. By honoring the “Called by Name”, we remember those for whom they risked their own lives and the lives of their families. We always try to establish the identity of the Jewish victims and the circumstances of their death. During the unveiling of the monument, we recall their names, and after a solemn mass, the rabbi says a Jewish prayer for the deceased. If unmarked graves of Holocaust victims are found, we cooperate with Fundacja Zapomniane, which conserves and commemorates them.

The key context in the stories of the “Called by Name” is the reality of the German occupation in Poland, which differed completely from the occupation in other European countries, especially in the West. The death penalty for helping Jews, the obligation to denounce and brutal repressions built an atmosphere of terror and made Poles hostages of the criminal policy of the Third Reich. In this situation, solidarity was a heroic attitude and could not be a mass phenomenon. When talking about the heroes, we also talk about denunciations and collaboration, which in many cases brought about the deaths of the “Called by Name” and the rescued Jews. We also remember that denunciation is a tool of control in totalitarian systems. The responsibility for creating a space of violence and lawlessness in occupied Poland rests with the Third Reich. The German perpetrators – the murderers of the “Called by Name” and rescued Jews – mostly escaped punishment and remain anonymous to this day. As part of the project, we strive to establish their identity and reveal their post-war fate.

Taking into account many contexts paves the way for the development of microhistoric research. In many cases, the experiences of the “Called by Name” and their families turn out to be an inspiration and the key to reconstructing a complete picture of local history during World War II.

 

Process

The “Called by Name” project assumes that restoring and preserving the memory of Poles murdered by the Germans for helping Jews is not a one-off act, but a continuous, consistent and collective effort. The unveiling of the monument is of great symbolic importance, and at the same time it is part of the complex process of researching memory. It is preceded by thorough preparation, research and archival inquiries, multiple visits and meetings with families and local communities. After the commemoration comes time for educational and integration activities, development of good practices of the culture of remembrance and promotion of knowledge about the “Called by Name” both in Poland and around the world. The Pilecki Institute initiates a process in which families, local communities, the media and people of culture are involved, often in response to reports we receive. In this way, the “Called by Name” project becomes a joint venture and the shared responsibility of many people. This allows us to reflect, together and in dialogue with one another, on the tragic experiences of the “Called by Name” and their families, and thus perhaps better understand ourselves.


The “Called by the Name” project was inaugurated in 2019 at the initiative of Prof. Magdalena Gawin, Undersecretary of State at the Ministry of Culture, National Heritage and Sport. So far, 23 commemorations have taken place, during which 53 people have been honored.

Commemoration sites

The commemorated

  • Franciszek Andrzejczyk (ok. 1891–1943)

    commemorated

    Franciszek Andrzejczyk (ok. 1891–1943)

    Franciszek Andrzejczyk was commemorated by the Pilecki Institute on 27 October 2019 in Czyżew-Sutki.

  • Franciszek Augustyniak (ok. 1914–1943)

    commemorated

    Franciszek Augustyniak (ok. 1914–1943)

    Franciszek Augustyniak was commemorated by Pilecki Institute on 4 June 2020 in Sterdyń.

  • Marianna Banaszek (ok. 1893–1943)

    commemorated

    Marianna Banaszek (ok. 1893–1943)

    Marianna Banaszek was commemorated by Pilecki Institute on 15 September 2020 in Marki.

  • Władysław Banaszek (ok. 1923–1943)

    commemorated

    Władysław Banaszek (ok. 1923–1943)

    Władysław Banaszek was commemorated by Pilecki Institute on 15 September 2020 in Marki.

  • Stanisława Banaszek (ok. 1926–1943)

    commemorated

    Stanisława Banaszek (ok. 1926–1943)

    Stanisława Banaszek was commemorated by Pilecki Institute on 15 September 2020 in Marki.

  • Wacław Budziszewski

    commemorated

    Wacław Budziszewski (1925–1943)

    Wacław Budziszewski was commemorated by the Pilecki Institute on 22 September 2019 in Nur.

  • Piotr Domański (ok. 1867–1943)

    commemorated

    Piotr Domański (ok. 1867–1943)

    Piotr Domański was commemorated by the Pilecki Institute on 28 May 2021 in Rzążew.

  • Franciszek Domański (ok. 1906–1943)

    commemorated

    Franciszek Domański (ok. 1906–1943)

    Franciszek Domański was commemorated by the Pilecki Institute on 28 May 2021 in Rzążew.

  • Antoni Domański (ok. 1912–1943)

    commemorated

    Antoni Domański (ok. 1912–1943)

    Antoni Domański was commemorated by the Pilecki Institute on 28 May 2021 in Rzążew.

  • Zygmunt Drgas (ok. 1920–1943)

    commemorated

    Zygmunt Drgas (ok. 1920–1943)

    Zygmunt Drgas was commemorated by Pilecki Institute on 4 June 2020 in Sterdyń.

  • Jadwiga Długoborska

    commemorated

    Jadwiga Długoborska (1899–1944)

    Jadwiga Długoborska was commemorated by the Pilecki Institute on 29 June 2019 in Ostrów Mazowiecka.

  • Katarzyna Grochowicz (?–1943)

    commemorated

    Katarzyna Grochowicz (?–1943)

    Katarzyna Grochowicz was commemorated by Pilecki Institute on 8 October 2020 in Stary Lipowiec.

  • Karolina Juszczykowska

    commemorated

    Karolina Juszczykowska (1910–1966)

    Karolina Juszczykowska was commemorated by Pilecki Institute on 22 September 2020 in Tomaszów Mazowiecki.

  • Antoni Kenigsman

    commemorated

    Antoni Kenigsman

    Antoni Kenigsman was commemorated by Pilecki Institute on 2 July 2021 in Mikołajki.

  • Franciszek Kierylak (ok. 1884–1943)

    commemorated

    Franciszek Kierylak (ok. 1884–1943)

    Franciszek Kierylak was commemorated by Pilecki Institute on 4 June 2020 in Sterdyń.

  • Piotr Kościelecki (ok. 1882-1943)

    commemorated

    Piotr Kościelecki (ok. 1882-1943)

    Piotr Kościelecki was commemorated by the Pilecki Institute on 9 June 2021 in Grądy-Woniecko.

  • Ewa Kotowska (ok. 1889–1943)

    commemorated

    Ewa Kotowska (ok. 1889–1943)

    Ewa Kotowska was commemorated by Pilecki Institute on 4 June 2020 in Sterdyń.

  • Stanisław Kotowski

    commemorated

    Stanisław Kotowski (1918–1943)

    Stanisław Kotowski was commemorated by Pilecki Institute on 4 June 2020 in Sterdyń.

  • Józef Kotowski (ok. 1887 –1943)

    commemorated

    Józef Kotowski (ok. 1887 –1943)

    Józef Kotowski was commemorated by Pilecki Institute on 4 June 2020 in Sterdyń.

  • Zofia Krasuska (ok. 1908–1943)

    commemorated

    Zofia Krasuska (ok. 1908–1943)

    Zofia Krasuska was commemorated by Pilecki Institute on 19 June 2020 in Tworki.

  • Feliks Bogusław Krasuski (ok. 1937–1943)

    commemorated

    Feliks Bogusław Krasuski (ok. 1937–1943)

    Feliks Bogusław was commemorated by Pilecki Institute on 19 June 2020 in Tworki.

  • Władysława Krysiewicz (ok. 1907–1943)

    commemorated

    Władysława Krysiewicz (ok. 1907–1943)

    Władysława Krysiewicz was commemorated by the Pilecki Institute on 6 October 2019 in Waniewo.

  • Stanisław Krysiewicz (ok. 1908–1943)

    commemorated

    Stanisław Krysiewicz (ok. 1908–1943)

    Stanisław Krysiewicz was commemorated by the Pilecki Institute on 6 October 2019 in Waniewo.

  • Bolesław Książek

    commemorated

    Bolesław Książek (1899–1943)

    Bolesław Książek was commemorated by the Pilecki Institute on 25 June 2021 in Olesin.

  • Roman Kusiak (?–1943)

    commemorated

    Roman Kusiak (?–1943)

    Roman Kusiak was commemorated by Pilecki Institute on 8 October 2020 in Stary Lipowiec.

  • Anastazja Kusiak (?–1943)

    commemorated

    Anastazja Kusiak (?–1943)

    Anastazja Kusiak was commemorated by Pilecki Institute on 8 October 2020 in Stary Lipowiec.

  • Franciszek Kusiak (ok. 1937–1943)

    commemorated

    Franciszek Kusiak (ok. 1937–1943)

    Francziszek Kusiak was commemorated by Pilecki Institute on 8 October 2020 in Stary Lipowiec.

  • Piotr Leszczyński (ok. 1891–1943)

    commemorated

    Piotr Leszczyński (ok. 1891–1943)

    Piotr Leszczyński was commemorated by the Pilecki Institute on 9 June 2019 in Poręba-Kocęby.

  • Apolonia Likos

    commemorated

    Apolonia Likos (1904–1943)

    Apolonia Likos was commemorated by the Pilecki Institute on 30 September 2021 in Opoka Duża.

  • Piotr Likos

    commemorated

    Piotr Likos (1900–1943)

    Piotr Likos was commemorated by the Pilecki Institute on 30 September 2021 in Opoka Duża.

  • Marianna Lubkiewicz

    commemorated

    Marianna Lubkiewicz (1899–1943)

    Marianna Lubkiewicz was commemorated by the Pilecki Institute on 24 March 2019 in Sadowne.

  • Stefan Lubkiewicz

    commemorated

    Stefan Lubkiewicz (1919–1943)

    Stefan Lubkiewicz was commemorated by the Pilecki Institute on 24 March 2019 in Sadowne.

  • Leon Lubkiewicz

    commemorated

    Leon Lubkiewicz (1884–1943)

    Leon Lubkiewicz was commemorated by the Pilecki Institute on 24 March 2019 in Sadowne.

  • Jan Maletka (ok. 1921-1942)

    commemorated

    Jan Maletka (ok. 1921-1942)

  • Marian Nowicki (ok. 1914–1943)

    commemorated

    Marian Nowicki (ok. 1914–1943)

    Marian Nowicki was commemorated by Pilecki Institute on 4 June 2020 in Sterdyń.

  • Leokadia Piątkowska

    commemorated

    Leokadia Piątkowska (1883–1944)

    Leokadia Piątkowska was commemorated by the Pilecki Institute on 26 October 2021 in Węgrów.

  • Stanisław Piwko (ok. 1913 –1943)

    commemorated

    Stanisław Piwko (ok. 1913 –1943)

    Stanisław Piwko was commemorated by Pilecki Institute on 4 June 2020 in Sterdyń.

  • Julianna Postek

    commemorated

    Julianna Postek (1891–1943)

    Julianna Postek was commemorated by the Pilecki Institute on 30 June 2019 in Stoczek.

  • Wacław Postek (?–?)

    commemorated

    Wacław Postek (?–?)

    Wacław Postek was commemorated by the Pilecki Institute on 30 June 2019 in Stoczek.

  • Henryk Postek (?–?)

    commemorated

    Henryk Postek (?–?)

    Henryk Postek was commemorated by the Pilecki Institute on 30 June 2019 in Stoczek.

  • Stanisław Postek (ok. 1883–1943)

    commemorated

    Stanisław Postek (ok. 1883–1943)

    Stanisław Postek was commemorated by the Pilecki Institute on 30 June 2019 in Stoczek.

  • Józef Pruchniewicz

    commemorated

    Józef Pruchniewicz (1887–1944)

    Józef Pruchniewicz was commemorated by Pilecki Institute on 23 March 2021 in Biecz.

  • Antoni Prusiński (ok. 1910–1943)

    commemorated

    Antoni Prusiński (ok. 1910–1943)

    Antoni Prusiński was commemorated by the Pilecki Institute on 9 June 2019 in Poręba-Kocęby.

  • Lucyna Radziejowska

    commemorated

    Lucyna Radziejowska (1899–1944)

    Lucyna Radziejowska was commemorated by the Pilecki Institute on 29 June 2019 in Ostrów Mazowiecka.

  • Katarzyna Rybak (?–1943)

    commemorated

    Katarzyna Rybak (?–1943)

    Katarzyna Rybak was commemorated by Pilecki Institute on 8 October 2020 in Stary Lipowiec.

  • Jan Siwiński (ok. 1887 –1943)

    commemorated

    Jan Siwiński (ok. 1887 –1943)

    Jan Siwiński was commemorated by Pilecki Institute on 4 June 2020 in Sterdyń.

  • Aleksandra Skłodowska

    commemorated

    Aleksandra Skłodowska (1862–1944)

    Aleksandra Skłodowska was commemorated by the Pilecki Institute on 16 June 2019 in Skłody-Piotrowice.

  • Hieronim Skłodowski

    commemorated

    Hieronim Skłodowski (1905–1944)

    Hieronim Skłodowski was commemorated by the Pilecki Institute on 16 June 2019 in Skłody-Piotrowice.

  • Józef Sowa

    commemorated

    Józef Sowa (1902–1943)

    Józef Sowa was commemorated by Pilecki Institute on 16 June 2020 in Wierzchowisko.

  • Franciszka Sowa

    commemorated

    Franciszka Sowa (1907–1943)

    Franciszka Sowa was commemorated by Pilecki Institute on 16 June 2020 in Wierzchowisko.

  • Zygmunt Uziębło (ok. 1924–1943)

    commemorated

    Zygmunt Uziębło (ok. 1924–1943)

    Zygmunt Uziębło was commemorated on 4 June 2020 in Sterdyń.

  • Aleksandra Wiktorzak (ok. 1883–1943)

    commemorated

    Aleksandra Wiktorzak (ok. 1883–1943)

    Aleksandra Wiktorzak was commemorated by Pilecki Institute on 4 June 2020 in Sterdyń.

  • Jan Zaręba (?–1943)

    commemorated

    Jan Zaręba (?–1943)

    Jan Zaręba was commemorated by Pilecki Institute on 8 October 2020 in Stary Lipowiec.