Andrzej Sitkowski was 15 years old when World War II began. He lived in a suburb of Warsaw, Poland, with his mother Helena, 10-year-old sister Magda, and his grandfather.
The family assumed the role of rescuers when Helena Sitkowska was approached by her neighbor with a request to hide a Jewish girl. That girl was Dobra Kosak (later Marion Miliband). Dobra, her sister Hadassah, and the girls’ parents had lived in Częstochowa in south-west Poland. With the help of the family’s former employee, the two children and their mother Bronisława were smuggled out of the ghetto in fall 1942 and assumed false identities. Their relative, Cecylia Kosak, arranged for their transfer to and shelter in Warsaw. Cecylia was a pianist with extensive social contacts among non-Jews. Cecylia secured a job for Bronisława as a maid and placed her two nieces in a convent. Some religious institutions in Poland hid Jewish children. Yet, the belief that convents would be spared German raids and deter local informants did not hold true. After a few months, Cecylia once again served as an intermediary in her relatives’ rescue. She placed Hadassah in another convent and Dobra – with Helena Sitkowska. In July 1944, the Sitkowskis agreed to take in Hadassah as well. Some time later, the girls’ mother joined them.
Until the Warsaw Uprising in 1944, Cecylia Kosak had actively engaged in supporting her relatives in hiding. When she was killed, Cecylia’s nieces and their mother became completely dependent on the Sitkowski family. The Sitkowskis were exposed to constant danger and fear, which intensified when Andrzej joined the resistance. A search for him could accidentally reveal the family’s efforts to protect the Kosaks.
After the Warsaw Uprising when the German authorities expelled the residents of Warsaw from the city, the Sitkowskis and the Kosaks reached Kielce. The Sitkowskis continued to support the Jewish family by providing them with clothing and money, and ultimately helped them to move in with relatives where the Kosaks stayed until liberation.
Righteous Among the Nations
On June 29, 1995, Yad Vashem recognized Helena Sitkowska and her son, Andrzej Sitkowski as Righteous Among the Nations. “There is a uniqueness about the history of this family in that we have formed firm bonds of friendship which survived the war,” wrote Marion (Dobra) and Hadassah in their testimony many years later. In February 1996, Andrzej Sitkowski, joined by Marion and Hadassah came to Jerusalem for a ceremony held at Yad Vashem in honor of the Sitkowskis.