When the Germans established the Cracow Ghetto in March 1941, the Sterner family (mother, father and seven children) decided to flee to Wolbrom, from where they had originated. The Sterners approached Kazimiera Strzalka, whose mother they had known in the past, and asked her to help them find shelter. Kazimiera, who at that time was 28 years old, took charge of the family. She moved in with her sister and gave the Sterners her apartment. In addition to housing them, she provided them with furniture, food and clothing. Willie Sterner, one of the children, remembers Kazimiera’s friendliness, and the moral support she gave the persecuted family. She would invite them for cake and coffee, he recalled, and his young sister would play with Kazimiera’s niece.
When the Jews of Wolbrom were deported, Willie’s mother and sisters were taken to an extermination camp, and his father and brothers were sent to the Krakow ghetto. They all perished in the Holocaust.
Despite the danger – the Germans executed Poles who concealed Jews – Kazimiera hid Willie, the only survivor of his family. He stayed in hiding for three weeks. But with his family gone, Willie had lost the will to live. He gave himself up to the Germans, and was sent to perform forced labor at Krakow airport. Kazimiera did not give up. She went to the labor camp, bribed the guards and brought Willie clothes, shoes and food. She returned several times until he was transferred to the Plaszow labor camp. Even then, Kazimiera did not abandon him and visited the camp, again bribed the guards, and brought Willie false papers.
On March 22, 1999, Kazimiera Strzalka was recognized by Yad Vashem as a Righteous Among the Nations. Her name was engraved on the wall in the Garden of the Righteous on the Mount of Remembrance.