During the war, Dr. Bronislaw Tenenwurzel, his wife Betty, and their two children, Emanuel and Ruth, was interned in the Miechow ghetto, near Krakow. In late 1942, when the ghetto was about to be liquidated, Tenenwurzel, with the help of a Polish acquaintance, sent his 14-year-old son, Emanuel, to a monastery in Mogila. However, after rumor spread in the monastery that Tenenwurzel was Jewish, he decided to escape.
The Polish acquaintance that had helped him in the past once again came to his aid, arranging for him to stay with his friend, Stefan Jagodzinski, who lived in Stary Korczyn. Tenenwurzel and Jagodzinski used false names – Tenenwurzel because he was Jewish, and Jagodzinski, because as an activist in the Polish underground, he was wanted by the Gestapo. In time, the two became friends, and worked together for the underground. Their friendship continued, even after Jagodzinski found out that Tenenwurzel was Jewish. When the local inhabitants discovered Tenenwurzel’s true identity, the two friends decided it was time to move on. However, the rumor that Tenenwurzel was Jewish reached their new place, too. A day before the Gestapo came to arrest them, the two friends escaped to Krakow, and then, through Jagodzinski’s ties with the underground, he smuggled his friend over the border to Hungary, where he was liberated by the Red Army in early 1945.
Jagodzinski also helped Tenenwurzel’s mother and sister, who fled from the Miechow ghetto, by providing them with “Aryan” documents, which saved their lives. His attempt to provide Tenenwurzel’s father, Bronislaw, with forged documents failed, and he was shot to death in the Plaszow camp. As a member of the underground, Jagodzinski considered saving Jews a personal obligation, and was guided by his fierce loyalty to his friend, which triumphed over adversity. After the war, Tenenwurzel’s mother and sister immigrated to Australia and Tenenwurzel, (later Dr. Emanuel Tanay), immigrated to the United States and, in 1989, hosted Jagodzinski in his house.
On July 24, 1986, Yad Vashem recognized Stefan Jagodzinski as Righteous Among the Nations.