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Polish Righteous Among the Nations Honored at Yad Vashem

Holocaust Survivor in Attendance

Ludwika Szostak Ludwika Szostak
Irena Steinfeldt, Director of the Righteous Among the Nations Department presenting Elzbieta Stradowska, great-niece of the late Righteous Ludwika & Zygmunt Szostak with the Righteous Among the Nations Award Irena Steinfeldt, Director of the Righteous Among the Nations Department presenting Elzbieta Stradowska, great-niece of the late Righteous Ludwika & Zygmunt Szostak with the Righteous Among the Nations Award
Holocaust survivor Karolina Eisen and family members with Elzbieta Stradowska, great-niece of the late Righteous Ludwika & Zygmunt Szostak Holocaust survivor Karolina Eisen and family members with Elzbieta Stradowska, great-niece of the late Righteous Ludwika & Zygmunt Szostak

On Monday, May 13, 2013 Yad Vashem held an event posthumously honoring Ludwika & Zygmunt Szostak as Righteous Among the Nations from Poland. The memorial ceremony took place in the Hall of Remembrance, followed by the unveiling of the name of the Righteous in the Garden of the Righteous Among the Nations, in the presence of His Excellency Polish Ambassador to Israel Jacek Hodorowicz, Elzbieta Stradowska, great-niece of the late Righteous Ludwika & Zygmunt Szostak received the medal and certificate of honor on their behalf, Holocaust survivor Karolina Eisen, Members of the Commission for the Designation of the Righteous Among the Nations, Holocaust survivors, family members and friends.

The Rescue Story

One day in August 1942, a woman appeared at the modest apartment of Ludwika & Zygmunt Szostak inquiring about a notice the couple had put in the paper regarding renting a room in their apartment. The Szostaks were an elderly couple that lived in the Żoliborz suburb of Warsaw and in order to ease their tough financial situation, decided to rent out the extra room in their house. It quickly became apparent that the woman who came to rent the room, Dora Agatstein was Jewish, she and her 7-year-old daughter, Karolina, had escaped the Lvov Ghetto just one month before the Great Deportation.

Despite their initial concern over housing the mother and daughter, the Szostak couple welcomed them in their home and took care of them. Even as the rent money Dora paid to the couple began to run out, the good relationship between her and the Szostaks only grew stronger. Since the room where Dora and Karolina slept was not heated, the Szostak couple decided to let them sleep in their bedroom which had a heater and together they passed the cold days of winter. After running out of money for food, Ludwika and Dora began to work from the apartment by wrapping homemade candies. Even little Karolina, who due to the situation was forbidden to leave the house and play with neighboring kids in the yard, helped out in this endeavor. Dora also began to give private lessons to some children in the neighborhood allowing her a little income. When the achievements by her students began to stick out in school, a nun who managed the institution came to visit Dora, offering her a teaching job. The visit by the nun and Dora’s teaching position at the school helped to lower the suspicions and worries of the neighbors towards Dora and her young daughter. Karolina was enrolled in a kindergarden that was run under the patronage of the AK, the Polish resistance's Home Army in Nazi-occupied Poland, and was walked to and from school by Ludwika.

With the breakout of the Polish Uprising in August 1944, the Żoliborz suburb was hit hard by the heavy fighting between the Soviets and Germans. Residents, including both the Szostaks and Agatsteins, were loaded on trains and taken to southern Poland where they lived as refugees. Zygmunt, Ludwika, Dora, and Karolina found themselves living with a poor farming family. The four joined in the hard agricultural work, including picking potatoes and Dora continued to earn a little by teaching lessons until the area was liberated by the Soviet army in April 1945.

Dora and Karolina immigrated to Israel in 1950. Ludwika died in 1970 and her husband, Zygmunt in 1972. On November 13, 2012, the Commission for the Designation of the Righteous Among the Nations recognized Ludwika and Zygmunt Szostak as Righteous Among the Nations.

More information about the Righteous Among the Nations