Surviving with a Muslim Identity in Warsaw

Surviving with a Muslim Identity in Warsaw

Jews living under false identity during the Holocaust faced enormous challenges. The fact that Jewish males are circumcised and bear the mark of their identity on their body presented an additional difficulty to the few who were able to survive in hiding.

In this respect the story of Avraham Horowitz's survival in Warsaw is unique. He survived thanks to the courage and resourcefulness of Stanisław and Regina Świda, who succeeded in having the child in their care declared as a Muslim.

The story of how the Świd family managed to rescue Avraham Horowitz is truly extraordinary. The boy was hiding under fake identity of a Tatar.

In April of 1943when the liquidation of the ghetto began, Benjamin and Tatiana's Polish acquaintances, who were active in the underground, helped them escape to the Aryan side of Warsaw, along with their 3-year-old son Avraham.

When they reached the “Aryan” side of the town, to ensure their safety the family had to split: Tatiana was able to obtain forged papers - she was now called Irena Waldo - and went to live with a Polish family in the outskirts of Warsaw; Benjamin went into hiding in the city; and their three-year-old son Avraham was moved from one hiding place to the other until a warm home was found for him with Stanisław and Regina Świda. The couple and their children welcomed Avraham into their home. and Avraham found himself in the house of Stanisław and Regina Świd. Seeing that the boy was circumcised, it seemed almost impossible to hide the fact that he was Jewish.

Then, Stanisław Świda came up with the idea of changing the official identity of Avraham and creating a story of him being a child of the family's non-existent friends – Muslim Tatars. This version would explain why the child was circumcised. Stanisław came forward to the representatives of the Tatar community in Warsaw and told the fake story of a Tatar orphan who had been dropped at his door. His story was so believable that Avraham was officially accepted as a Tatar boy. His name was changed to Achmet and his surname to Kraczkiewicz.

Avraham lived with "Uncle Stanisław" and "Aunt Regina" until the summer of 1944. Regina was like a mother to him, treating him with warmth and love during a very difficult period. The memory of his mother had faded, and although throughout the time he was with the Świda family, Tatiana would come to see her son, he no longer knew that she was his mother.

Soon after the beginning of the Polish uprising in Warsaw in August 1944, Stanisław and his son Wlodzimierz went missing. Wlodzimierz was killed in a camp and the fate of Stanslaw is unkown until this very day. Despite the tragedy and the loss of her home Regina did not abandon Avraham and took him along on her escape through the ruins of Warsaw. Shortly before liberation, Tatiana collected her son. Because of the ongoing danger, she did not tell him she was his mother and he learned the truth only after the end of the war. They did remain in touch with Regina Swida until Tatiana Horowitz and her son went to Israel in 1950. Avraham's father stayed in Poland.

Regina Świda passed away in 1979.

On August 2, 2011, the Commission for the Designation of the Righteous Among the Nations at Yad Vashem decided to award Stanisław and Regina Świda the title of Righteous Among the Nations.

On March 22nd, 2012 a ceremony was held at Yad Vashem honoring the Swidas. The medal and the certificate of honour were handed to their granddaughter, Małgorzata Gronek. The ceremony took place in the Yad Vashem seat in Jerusalem and was attended by Dr Avraham Horowitz (the person saved by the Świd family), the family and friends of Świds and by Urszula Jurczyńska, the Consul of the Embassy of the Republic of Poland in Israel.

Originally found here and here

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