Joanna B. Michlic

“I will never forget what you did for me during the war”:
Rescuer - Rescuee Relationships in the Light of Postwar Correspondence in Poland, 1945–1949


In spite of a growing number of publications over the last decade, the history of Christian Polish rescuers of Jews during World War II and the intricate relations between the rescuers and the rescued is still under-researched. The presentation and self-presentation of the rescuers, the perceptions of rescue activities by rescued Jews, the daily interactions between the various categories of rescuers and their Jewish charges both during the Holocaust and in the aftermath of the war, and the memory of these interactions, are topics that have not yet been fully investigated. This article aims to shed light on these challenging topics through the examination of important primary sources from the early postwar period when the memory of the war was still “raw.” It analyses the correspondence, addressed to the Joint, the Central Committee of Polish Jews, and the special Committee for Assistance to Poles, pertaining to rescue activities during the war and to individual requests for assistance and remuneration for these activities. The author’s main argument is that this correspondence illuminates certain aspects of rescue and Polish–Jewish relations that would otherwise remain beyond the reach of the historian.