The commemoration of Stanisław and Marianna Siniarski and their children, who were murdered for helping Jews during the German occupation - Instytut Pileckiego

The commemoration of Stanisław and Marianna Siniarski and their children, who were murdered for helping Jews during the German occupation

On 10 March 2024 in Lutkówka in Mazovia, on the 80th anniversary of the tragic events, the Pilecki Institute commemorated Stanisław and Marianna Siniarski and their children: Marian, Irena and Edward, who were murdered by the Germans together with the Jews whom they were sheltering: Wolf Lipszyc, Chana and their newborn son.

The ceremony was attended by representatives of the Siniarski family and members of the Lipszyc family, who arrived specially for the occasion from the United States and Israel. In Lutkówka, Krzysztof Siniarski (the great-grandson of the murdered Stanisław) and Roni Lipszyc (the nephew of the murdered Wolf) met for the first time.

Krzysztof Siniarski, the great-grandson of the murdered Marianna and Stanisław
Today I feel immense relief that the story that has accompanied me, to a greater or lesser extent, throughout my entire life, found its conclusion in the unveiling of this commemorative plaque, said Krzysztof Siniarski, the great-grandson of the murdered Marianna and Stanisław.

Roni Lipszyc, the nephew of Wolf Lipszyc, who was being rescued
Our father’s name was Chaim, which means ‘life’ in Hebrew. He managed to survive, but today we honor all those who perished, who had to die a tragic death, here on 10 March 1944, and all those who lost their lives during the war. Never again, said Roni Lipszyc, the nephew of Wolf Lipszyc, who was being rescued.
Magdalena Gawin, director of the Pilecki Institute

Our being here today, the meeting between the relatives of the murdered Poles and Jews, is a symbolic victory over evil, said Prof. Magdalena Gawin, director of the Pilecki Institute.

It was the 36th commemoration organized as part of the “Called by Name” program, which is dedicated to those who lost their lives during the German occupation for helping Jews designated for annihilation. The program has received the Honorary Patronage of the President of the Republic of Poland Andrzej Duda. The event was co-organized by the county of Żyrardów, the commune of Mszczonów and the Mszczonów Historical Association. The ceremony was attended by numerous members of the local community, local government partners, the army, as well as representatives of the Catholic Church and the Jewish community.

The descendants of the Lipszyc and Siniarski families met for the first time on March 8, 2024 in Warsaw. Two days later, on Sunday, March 10, a ceremonial commemoration took place in Lutkówka as part of the "Called by Name" program.

The history of the Siniarski family

During the Second World War, the Germans pursued a policy of terror in the occupied Polish territories. The Jewish population found itself in the most tragic position. In the second half of 1940, the authorities of the Warsaw District forced Jews to settle in urban ghettos. In the administrative district of Sochaczew, these were established in Sochaczew, Żyrardów, Grodzisk Mazowiecki and Błonie, among others. Already in early 1941, the occupier commenced mass deportations of Jews to Warsaw, from where most of them were later sent to the German extermination camp in Treblinka. On 17 December 1941, the starost of the administrative district of Sochaczew issued an order imposing the death penalty on Poles for providing any form of help to Jews. Wolf Lipszyc (born on 24 May 1922) was the fifth child of Icek Aron and Blima Lipszyc(1). He and his family lived in Żyrardów. Before the war, his father ran a hardware store. During the occupation, in late September or early October 1940, the Lipszyc family were forced to move to the local ghetto. They managed to take only some of their furniture and belongings to their new apartment. The family’s situation continued to deteriorate. Food and fuel were in short supply. In view of this, Wolf began going to villages around Mszczonów, where he sold straight razors, purses and other small goods, obtaining food in return. He also managed to establish contacts with local farmers.

In February 1941, the Germans ordered the deportation of Jews to the ghetto in Warsaw. Chaim Lipszyc (born on 27 November 1929), Wolf’s younger brother, recalled the tragic events: We already knew the day before that we had to move out. Some of the Jews had left the day before. You were allowed to take twenty kilos of luggage per person. We no longer had anything to take, because everything had been spent on food. There was a ruckus and crying everywhere, with the Germans shouting the loudest – Juden raus! Schnell! We grabbed our readied bundles and walked, hurried on by the escorting gendarmes, along Szeroka and Sienkiewicza streets to the station. I walked on, and I did not know why I was crying, while my father kept repeating over and over – this is the end, this is the end. (…) When my father still had some money, we had rented an apartment on Świętojerska Street. My brother, Zew [Wolf], was in the countryside outside Mszczonów at the time. The were a lot of us: Bejł, Izrael, my sister Gitla, me, my parents, and there was also my eldest brother, Lejzor, the one who had served in the 1st Light Cavalry Regiment(2). Wolf went with his family to the ghetto, but quickly returned to the countryside. He tried to help, and smuggled in food for his family. In the face of the growing terror imposed by the occupation authorities, this became increasingly difficult. Towards the end of 1941, the youngest of the family, Chaim, also fled Warsaw and found a hiding place in Lutkówka. He stayed, among others, in the homestead of Julia Rojkowska. In consequence, he could count on his brother for help and support. While hiding in the countryside, Wolf met and developed a relationship with Chana. She was a young girl (she may have been about 18–22 years old). She was originally from Grodzisk Mazowiecki, where her family ran a cake shop or traded in oran -geade and soda water. It is known that during the occupation she earned her living by sewing and crocheting, as evidenced by witness testimony: A Jewish woman, Hanka [Chana], stayed with me for about 2 weeks, who, as payment for lodging, made me a sweater from my wool(3). At the beginning of 1944, Chana was heavily pregnant. Together with Wolf, she sought a safe place where she could give birth. The Siniarski family came to their aid: Stanisław (born in 1899) and his wife Marianna, née Zgórzak (born in 1901). They lived just outside the village of Lutkówka with their children: Marian (born on 10 October 1928 – Stanisław’s son from his first marriage), Irena (born on 6 May 1935), and Edward (born on 18 July 1936)(4). Bronisław Zgórzak, a relative of the Siniarskis, remembered the appearance of their home: The Siniarskis’ house was small, consisting of two rooms, and was insulated with straw. It was a stone building. The Siniarskis’ yard, located about 20–25 meters from the house, was surrounded by a small fence built of stone, about half a meter high(5). The Siniarskis were not wealthy, cultivating 12 or so acres of land. In addition, they had one cow, a dozen hens and some rabbits. Despite the difficult living conditions, and the risks involved in taking in Jews, they did not refuse to help their fellow men. Wolf and Chana started hiding in the Siniarskis’ home most probably in February 1944. They received one of the rooms. In early March, Chana gave birth to a son. It is known that the birth took place with complications, as Wolf sought help from local women who acted as midwives.

The German Crime of 10 March 1944

In the early morning of Friday, 10 March 1944, German gendarmerie and Schupo officers from Żyrardów came to Lutkówka following a denunciation. The squad numbered a dozen or so men. They were looking for the home of the Siniarski family, who were suspected of hiding Jews. The gendarmes were accompanied by Józef O., who had been taken from the jail in Żyrardów to serve as a guide. However, he was unable to point out exactly where the Siniarskis lived. Thus, the Germans forced one of the local residents to lead them to the farm that they were looking for. When they finally arrived at the location, the gendarmes encountered Stanislaw Siniarski in the yard. One of them asked him if he was hiding anyone. When Siniarski denied, he was punched in the face. Józef O. testified in the case: Then the gendarmes told Siniarski to put his hands up and stand facing the barn door, while I was told to stand behind the barn wall and one of the gendarmes stood next me, whereupon they started shouting for everyone to get out of the house. I saw Siniarski’s wife exit the building, followed by three children. They ordered everyone to stand against the wall of the barn and started shooting into the house through the doors and windows, and only after some time did I see a Jew in his underwear being led out of the building, and then they ordered everyone to lie down on the ground, Siniarski with his wife and children lay down one next to other, with their faces to the ground, and the Jew about ten meters away, and after a few minutes I heard a single shot and the gendarme ordered me to go to the other side of the house, whereupon I heard three bursts of machine gun fire (...)(6) . Another of the witnesses remembered: I would like to mention that [Marianna] Siniarska and [Stanislaw] Siniarski were already dressed, whereas their three children were only in their underwear, and so I realized that they must have been taken from their beds(7).

After Stanislaw and Marianna and their children: sixteen-year-old Marian, nine-year-old Irena and eight-year-old Edward, together with Wolf Lipszyc, obeyed the Germans’ order and lay down on the ground, one of the gendarmes killed them with bursts of machine gun fire. The Germans then entered the house, where they found Chana lying in one of the rooms with her newborn baby. The woman and her newborn son were shot dead. After committing the crime, the gendarmes proceeded to two farms in the village of Wygnanka, since Jews were also supposed to be hiding there. However, they found no-one. In view of this, they returned to the Siniarskis’ farm, which they looted, catching the hens and rabbits and putting them into sacks. They also ordered the local residents to prepare wagons for them, and also to summon the village leader. The Germans also commenced a “feast”. Witness Bronisław Zgórzak testified thus: On the Siniarskis’ property, I saw a pan-fed machine gun set up on a bipod with its barrel pointing toward the forest. The Germans fired their rifles in the direction of the forest (...). While shooting, the German gendarmes laughed, took out of their pockets vodka bottles with a capacity of half a liter, the necks of which – and this I remember exactly – were embellished with white lacquer, and from these bottles, one by one, drank vodka (8). Thereafter the gendarmes drove off on the wagons that had been provided previously. Only then could the residents of Lutkówka tend to the burial of those killed. One of the witnesses recalled: After digging the pit, we leveled the bottom, took the corpses of the slain Siniarskis from the garden and placed them in the pit, covered these corpses with rugs, and only then filled the pit with the corpses with earth. (...) Near this makeshift grave of the Siniarski family we dug a second hole, in which we placed the bodies of a man, a woman and a newborn baby who had all been shot. All three were buried in this pit(9) .

The exhumation

After the war ended, the murdered families were exhumed. In June 1945, when Stanisław’s son, Zdzisław Siniarski, returned to Poland from forced labor, the bodies of his parents and siblings were moved to the cemetery in Lutkówka. Whereas Chaim Lipszyc came to Poland in the late 1980s. He was the only member of the Lipszyc family to survive the Second World War. The remains of the murdered Jews were exhumed on his initiative. The event was attended by Tadeusz Małecki: The exhumed remains were placed in small coffins and moved to a grave in the Jewish Cemetery at Okopowa Street in Warsaw. I and my father, Henryk, were both present at the exhumation. My father had been present in 1944 when the bodies of the Lipszyc family had been buried. During the exhumation, the skeletons of a woman and a man were discovered, but the remains of the newborn child were not found(10). The post-war trial In 1948, Józef O., who had led the gendarmes to the farm in Lutkówka, was charged and convicted of denouncing the Siniarski family. However, the evidence in the case was inconclusive. Some witnesses claimed that the Germans were informed that the Lipszyc family was hiding in Lutkówka by Stanisław B., who had previously kept Chana concealed for some time. Ultimately, the case against him was dropped. Furthermore, none of the gendarmes responsible for carrying out the crime on 10 March 1944 were identified.

Exhumation works in Lutkówka, late 1980s. Photograph from the collections of the Lipszyc family
Chaim Lipszyc at the grave of Wolf and Chana. Photograph from the collections of the Lipszyc family