Maria Justyna

Maria Justyna

Born: March 28, 1925

Piotrkow Trybunalski, Poland

Maria was born to Roman Catholic parents in the industrial town of Piotrkow Trybunalski in central Poland. Her father and mother were school teachers. Maria attended grade school and secondary school in Piotrkow. She and her older sister, Danuta, 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: The Germans invaded Poland on September 1, 1939, and occupied Piotrkow four days later. Most schooling for Poles was banned so, at 14, Maria had to stop attending secondary school. That October, Maria and Danuta's good friends, Sabina and Helena, were among those forced to move into the ghetto the Germans established for the Jews in Piotrkow. Only a few weeks after Piotrkow was occupied, Maria joined the resistance movement.

1940-44: Maria was a courier for the Polish Home Army, guiding saboteurs who parachuted in from England. She also delivered weapons, explosives and underground newspapers. When the Germans liquidated the Piotrkow ghetto in 1942, her mother hid Sabina and Helena in her house until they could sneak out with false IDs. During the Warsaw uprising in 1944 Maria was caught smuggling two resistance leaders out of Warsaw. The men were shot on the spot. She was sent off to a concentration camp, but on the way she escaped from the train.

After the war, Maria reunited with her family in Piotrkow Trybunalski. In 1963 she obtained a medical degree, and became a general practioner.

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