Anna Irena Trojanowska-Kaczmarska, born in 1931
I was born in Warsaw. My parents, Felicja née Szlachtaub and Stanisław Trojanowski, were teachers in a public elementary school in Falenice on the outskirts of Warsaw. In this school, the majority of the pupils were Jewish children. Many of them emigrated to Palestine even before the war but continued correspondence with my father.
Stanisław Trojanowski – mr. Trojanowski was not Jewish.
Mama had seven sisters and one brother with whom our family had close emotional ties. They visited us frequently, which caused children from anti-Semitic families to harass me in the courtyard. They didn’t want to play with me and even threw stones at me. It was a difficult experience. After the outbreak of the war, during the liquidation of the Warsaw Ghetto, Mama’s entire family, along with Grandma Szlachtaub, perished. We know the circumstances of the death of Mama’s brother, Uncle Adek. A Nazi policeman shot him the moment he rushed to the side of his fainting wife in Umschlagplatz to assist her. One of Mama’s sisters, Aunt Anka, was caught by the Germans outside the ghetto. It is most likely that she wanted to escape to join us, because we lived in the Aryan part of Warsaw.
Father became the principal of the public elementary school No. 53 in Żoliborz, formerly the Association of Friends of Children. Several Jewish children, hiding their origins, attended this school, even those who lived outside the school district. Mama’s nephew, Aleksander Holc, escaped from the ghetto and came, without any papers, to live with us. Father gave him a student identity card, which enabled him to travel to Germany for work. We lived in Żoliborz at 20 Słowacki Street. Father and his brother-in-
law built a hiding place in the kitchen of our apartment. It was intended for my mother and her niece with her little son. They built another hiding place in the apartment of the woman who taught catechism in Father’s school. At my father’s suggestion, she was hiding a Jew, Marian Węgiełek. This hiding place saved his life thanks to excellent camouflage. It was not discovered even during a detailed search of the entire house conducted by Nazi police. The wife of Węgiełek lived with us for about two weeks. Unfortunately, she did not abide by the rules of the underground and went outdoors freely, which upset our neighbor. He wrote with a pencil next to the bell button of our apartment, “Hier wohnt viele Juden” (Here live many Jews), I am quoting exactly, preserving misspellings. Father erased the writing, but Mrs. Węgiełek had to move out the next day.
From 1942 to August 1944, i.e., until the outbreak of the Warsaw Uprising, Father looked after Mama’s niece, Regina Rozenblum (she had a Kennkarte [identity card] in the name of Żuławska) and her six-year- old little son, Aleksander, whom I have already mentioned. Looking after them consisted of arranging to have them live for a few months at some friends of Father, and later, together with our family at 20 Słowacki Street from the winter of 1943 until August 1944. I remember that little Olek seldom walked upright around the apartment. So that the neighbors would not see him through the window across the street, he mostly sat on the floor or in a hiding place.
Olek – diminutive for Aleksander.
During the Warsaw Uprising, the young poet Nowicki, who lived in the neighborhood, composed and distributed a newsletter for children entitled Jawnutka. At the suggestion of architect and painter Ryszard Moszkowski (a Jew), my first drawing instructor to whom I went for lessons during the occupation, I collaborated with the editor, preparing illustrations in certain issues of Jawnutka.
After the collapse of the Warsaw Uprising, Ryszard Moszkowski, together with his wife, Róża Etkin, Róża, a well-known pianist, as well as six other persons, did not leave Warsaw but were in hiding in a previously prepared and camouflaged basement hiding place. At the beginning of January 1945, the smoke from a lighted stove in their shelter betrayed them. Nazis discovered the whole group of these splendid people, and they vanished without a trace.
Father, who was evacuated after the uprising with some men from Żoliborz, was taken to the concentration camp Neuengamme near Hamburg. Mama and I wandered around Poland. In Łowicz, where Mama had spent her youth, she had to discreetly cover her face so that no one who knew her would recognize her. Finally, we reached the nearby small village of Bąki, where the family of a colleague of Father, a teacher and director of a school, lived. There, we stayed with a peasant and lived to see the end of the war.
After the war, after earning matriculation, I studied at the Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw and in Kiev. Then, as an artist-painter, for a long time, I couldn’t get rid of motifs of martyrdom in my pictures. Camps, executions, bodies—these were the themes of my art. The severity in my artistic expression, although already more individualized, remained even at the time when I began to study humanities at Warsaw University. There, after earning a doctor of philosophy degree in education, specializing in the artistic creativity of children, I became a senior lecturer in the Pedagogic Institute. In addition to my work as an artist (painting and drawing) and educator (lectures at the university), I have also been engaged in research publications.
I also wrote the book The Child and Creativity (1971), as well as The Child and the Fine Arts (1979; 2nd ed. 1988). My concept of education through art has become a basic principle in the training of teachers throughout Poland. I passionately believe in the educational moral force of art in our cruel world. At present, I am retired. In 1990, my father received a Yad Vashem Diploma and Medal.
The Child and Creativity – the Polish titles are Dziecko i tworczość and Dziecko i plastyka.
Warsaw, December 30, 1992