Józef Walaszczyk

Józef Walaszczyk, from Warsaw, had connections with Jewish people ever since his childhood. At the start of the occupation he was the foreman of a factory outside Warsaw, which employed about 30 Jews, and within the scope of his influence he tried to ensure their safety.

Photo: Yad Vashem

During this period he met a young Jewish woman named Irena Front and became friendly with her. During a hunt for Jews in the autumn of 1940, he rescued her from the Gestapo’s clutches and hid her in his home. Afterward he obtained credible “Aryan” papers for her, paying for them himself. The papers were to serve her until the end of the war. A year later, the Gestapo again arrested her when she left her place of hiding. Józef got involved and by bribing one of the officers of the Criminal Police (Kripo) he was able to arrange for Irena’s release, as well as the release of another 21 Jews. After this incident he was compelled to get a new apartment, where he sheltered Irena and two other Jewish women, Anna and Halina Starzewska. To make sure that they would not have reason to wander about outside, he hired a maid to take care of them. In the autumn of 1944, after the suppression of the Warsaw Uprising, the three women reached the Pruszków transit camp. Again Józef extricated them from their imprisonment and brought them to the farm in the village of Rylsk Wielki where he was then working. They remained there until the liberation and survived. Throughout the entire period in which the three Jewish women were under Józef’s protection he paid for their upkeep.

He continued to support them after the liberation as well, when they were destitute. On May 9, 2002, Yad Vashem recognized Józef Walszczyk as Righteous Among the Nations.

Today Józef Walaszczyk is active as the Vice President of the Righteous Among the Nations Association in Poland. He was professionally active until 2014, running a purse and bagmaking business.