Into Wiktoria's Arms
Wiktoria and Stanislaw Szumielewicz
When World War II broke out, the Nisencwaig family from Staszow, Poland, numbered 18 members. Only two of them survived the Holocaust. This is the story of the survival of one of them.
Eva Nisencwaig was 3 years old when Germany occupied Poland in 1939. Her family tried to endure the difficult situation of Jews as best as they could, but in the summer of 1941, Moshe and Hena Nisencwaig became aware of the imminent danger to their lives. They took the painful decision to part from their five-year-old daughter and to put her in the care of Polish friends, Wiktoria and Stanislaw Szumielewicz, who had a farm in Ritviana. The couple took the child in, presented the little girl as their niece, and eventually also took in Eva's two cousins. But the reunion with her cousins didn't last long. First Janek and then his sister Lucy disappeared again. Eva, who had painfully grown used to her being with Szumielewicz, also had to leave. When a farm worker informed the Germans about the Jewish children at the Szumielewicz home, she was once again torn away from the now familiar surroundings and brought to a convent. Wiktoria Szumielewicz continued to watch from a distance, and when the convent was destroyed in a bombing, she took Eva back. To avoid detection they moved from one place to another until liberation.
After the war Eva stayed with the couple until her uncle, the only other survivor of her family, came to find her after the war. Both her parents had perished. In 1947 she went to live with relatives in Canada. She never forgot Wiktoria and kept in touch with her until her death. Her eldest grandchild is named after her rescuer.
In 1974, when visiting Israel, Eva went to Yad Vashem and enquired about the possibility to have her rescuers honored as Righteous Among the Nations. It took her another six years to write down her detailed testimony.
In 1981 Wiktoria and Stanislaw Szumielewicz were awarded the title. A tree was planted in the Avenue of the Righteous.