Rescuers of Jews

Antonowicz Jadwiga


Jadwiga and Wincenty Antonowicz, who lived on Pylimo gatvė in Vilnius, visited Bronislava Malberg at her home on their own and offered to help her to go into hiding. The girl had come to Vilnius just before the war and had neither means nor many acquaintances. She hid behind a wardrobe in the room of their daughters, Lucyna and Teresa. As the family owned two houses, many people would come to them, caretakers, former workers, friends and acquaintances; therefore, they decided to take Bronislava to the home of Wincenty’s mother, Antonina. Forged documents, in the name of Joana Malinovska, were obtained.
However, it was not safe there, either. Antonina’s flat was on the ground floor. Since Bronislava (Joana) grieved for her mother, who was doomed to death in the ghetto, and cried, strangers could overhear it, and that was dangerous. Therefore, she was moved to a safer place in the town of Nemenčinė.
In February 1942, Wincenty Antonowicz bought the estate of Tuskulėnai in the suburbs of Vilnius, and the whole family moved there. They grew vegetables, and kept a horse and some cows. In this out-of-the-way place they hid the family of the Jew Z. Kurganas. After the war, the casual acquaintance between Joana and the daughters of her rescuers blossomed into a friendship. They often met in Warsaw, where Joana worked at the Israeli embassy. She subsequently moved to Paris, where she studied law and Romance philology.
Lucyna wrote: “My parents were among the people who were guided by the adage: homo res sacra homini (a human is a sacred thing to a human). Absurdities of race, nationality, fanaticism, and colour of hair and eyes were of no importance to them whatsoever.”
Her mother Jadwiga always helped the needy. She would give everybody a warm welcome. She was kindhearted, compassionate and could not endure the horrors of war; she died in 1942 at the age of 46.

From Hands Bringing Life and Bread, Volume 3,
The Vilna Gaon Jewish State Museum. Vilnius, 2005
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