Stefania (Fusia) Podgorska

Stefania (Fusia) Podgorska

Born: 1925

Lipa, Poland

Stefania was born to a Catholic family in a village near Przemysl. They lived on a large farm and cultivated several different crops. While her father worked with the farmhands in the fields, Stefania's mother, a trained midwife, managed the house and cared for her eight children.

1933-39: My father died in 1938 after an illness. With my mother's approval, I joined my sister in Przemysl in 1939. At 14 I worked in a grocery store owned by the Diamants, a Jewish family. They treated me like family, and I moved in with them when the Germans invaded [Poland] on September 14, 1939. But two weeks later, the Soviets occupied the city [under the German-Soviet Pact]. The grocery store stayed open; I shopped in the market for food to sell to our customers.

1940-44: The Germans again occupied the city in June 1941. Like all Jews in Przemysl, the Diamants were forced into a ghetto. My mother was sent to Germany for forced labor; I was 16 and left to care for my 6-year-old sister. I found us an apartment outside the ghetto and traded clothes for food. In 1942 news spread that the ghetto was being liquidated. I decided to help some Jews escape the final roundups by hiding them. I moved into a cottage for more space. Soon, 13 Jews were living in a secret space in my attic.

Przemysl was liberated on July 27, 1944. The Jews that 17-year-old Stefania helped to hide all survived the war. In 1961 she moved to the United States with Josef Diamant, whom she married.