Stefania Podgórska, a Catholic Pole born 1925, along with her younger sister Helena, is noted for saving 13 Jews during World War II. She was 17 at the time; her sister was 7 years old. Her family lived in a village near Przemyśl, the second-oldest city in southern Poland after Krakow. It is located in southeastern Poland, near the Russian border.
Her family lived on a large farm; her father worked the fields, and her mother, a midwife also took care of their eight children. In 1939 her father died, and she moved into town and worked in the town grocery run by the Diamants, a Jewish family. She moved in with them on September 14, 1939. The Soviets occupied the city two weeks later, and they managed to keep the grocery store open.
The Germans reoccupied the town in June of 1941 and soon all Jews, including her employer the Diamants, were forced into a ghetto. At the same time her mother and brother were captured by the Germans and sent to Germany as forced labor. She located an apartment for herself and her younger sister outside the ghetto.
In 1942 the Germans began liquidating the ghetto. One day Max Diamant, her employer’s son, and his cousin appeared at her door. They had escaped from the train to Bełżec concentration camp. She took them in and they hid in the attic. Two people grew to 13 people in the attic. For two years she protected their secret – all 13 survived the war.
A 2010 film, Hidden in Silence, reenacts the true story of the two Podgórska sisters.
Information compiled from ushmm.org, wikipedia, and scetv.org. South Carolina ETV has a printable teacher’s guide for ‘The Other Side of Faith’ which they define as: a compelling witness to the exceptional courage of Stefania Podgorska Burzminski and her sister, Helena. The basic message imparted is that faith may also be found in the morality that transcends religious and ethnic boundaries, which we can recognize as our common humanity.