Wacław Stradowski - Instytut Pileckiego

Called by name / The commemorated

Wacław Stradowski (1921–1943)

Commemorated in 2022.

Commemorated by the Pilecki Institute on 15 September 2022 in Chmielnik.

Wacław Stradowski, son of Marianna Stradowska née Piotrowska (born 1900), had two sisters - Matylda (born 1924) and Kazimiera (born 1926). The family lived in a house on Szydłowska Street in Chmielnik.

Marianna was widowed in 1926; she became the family’s sole provider and earned a living by running a farm. The Jewish community had been living in Chmielnik for centuries – in the interwar period, they accounted for about 80% of town residents. The German assault on Poland in 1939 put an end to the Jewish presence in Chmielnik. In the first half of 1941, the Germans established a ghetto not only for local Jews, but also for those from other towns of occupied Poland. A dozen months later, a liquidation of the ghetto began; it was concluded in December of the same year. The Jews were brought to the so-called cattle market, which was situated two kilometers away from the town. The Germans murdered about 500 Jews at the site, and the rest were deported mostly to Treblinka.

As the researcher of the Stradowski case, Dr. Wojciech Cedro from the Pilecki Institute, says: When the liquidation of the Chmielnik ghetto began, a group of Jews – two Pasternak brothers and an unknown couple with an approx. 10-year-old child – came to the Stradowski family to ask for help. Maria and her teenage children gave them shelter in their own house, placing the Jews in a room where they had previously kept farming equipment. On the late evening of 31 January 1943, probably following a denunciation, German gendarmes (including among others Julian Świątek and Bernhard Krause) arrived at the Stradowski household – continues Dr. Cedro. One of the Chmielnik residents showed them the way. The gendarmes found the hiding place at the house and bestially murdered the five Jews. The bodies of the victims were buried at the Jewish cemetery in Chmielnik.

Maria and her three children managed to escape. The family returned home when the gendarmes had left, only Wacław – fearing for his safety – decided to remain in hiding. Their house was probably under surveillance, because when Stradowski came home a few days later, he and his mother were immediately arrested by the gendarmes. On 11 February 1943, both of them were transported to the German Penal Institution in Pińczów, where they were charged with sheltering Jews. From there they were sent to a prison in Kielce, where on 25 March they were tried before a special court. Maria and Wacław Stradowski were sentenced to death.

Commemorated by the Pilecki Institute on 15 September 2022 in Chmielnik, click here to read about it.