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Danuta Justyna

Piotrkow Trybunalski, Poland

Danuta was born to Roman Catholic parents in the small industrial town of Piotrkow Trybunalski in central Poland. Her father and mother were school teachers. She and her younger sister, Maria, became friends with two Jewish girls, Sabina and Helena Szwarc. Although their houses were more than a mile apart, the girls often played together.

1933-39: I was planning on attending college in September 1939, but on September 1 Germany invaded Poland. Four days later, German soldiers streamed into our city. That October, the Germans established a ghetto in Piotrkow for the Jews, and our good friends, Sabina and Helena, were among those forced to move into the ghetto. Only a few weeks after Piotrkow was occupied, my sister, Maria, and I joined the resistance movement.

1940-44: My sister and I delivered weapons and illegal newspapers for the Polish Home Army [Armia Krajowa], and Mother sheltered resistance fighters in our home. When the Germans liquidated the Piotrkow ghetto in 1942, Mother hid Sabina and Helena in our house until they could sneak out with false IDs. In 1944 Maria and I were caught smuggling two resistance leaders out of Warsaw. We were sent off to a concentration camp, but on the way we escaped from the train. A month later, the Gestapo caught me in Czestochowa smuggling revolvers.

Danuta was liberated from a Czestochowa prison by Soviet troops in January 1945. After the war, she was reunited with her family in Piotrkow Trybunalski.

 

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