Nowa Sól, 1 March 1997

Witold Szymański, whom I know personally, requested that I draw up a statement concerning patriotic activities in Ostrowiec Świętokrzyski, which took place during the German occupation in a grocery store owned by Wincenty and Maria Wawrzyczek. The store was located on 3 Maja Avenue.

I, Irena Grzegorzewska née Romanowska, b. 9 November 1921 in Ostrowiec Świętokrzyski, state as follows: during the German occupation, between 1940 and 1944, I worked as a shop clerk in the grocery store owned by Wincenty and Maria Wawrzyczek. In the middle of that period, Antoni Burian, Maria Wawrzyczek’s brother, started to run the store. Working there were also Hanka Wawrzyczek, a cousin, and Witold Szymański, an expellee from Poznań. Witold was a clerk and dealt with procurement. I also knew his brothers, Gwidon and Bogdan, who worked at the post office. Both of them regularly stole packets of blank food coupons and then delivered them to Antoni Burian, to the shop. At the shop, these forms were filled in with fictitious names, with the participation of the following persons: Antoni Burian, Hanna Wawrzyczek, Niuśka Hynek (her married name was Helena Burian, after her husband Wiktor), Maśka Izdebska, Gwidon, Bogdan, Witold Szymański, and myself, Irena Romanowska (married name Grzegorska). Collecting supplies from the wholesaler in exchange for the coupons was the task of Witold Szymański, who then distributed the food among the needy. According to the organization’s findings, it was delivered to the Jews in the Ostrów ghetto, some workers of the Ostrowiec Steelworks (back then the Herman Göring Werke), and persons in hiding, who faced being arrested by the Nazis. Aside from the persons listed above, actively participating in the operation was Jan Izdebski (Maśka’s husband), who worked for the Municipal Procurement Department in Ostrowiec Świętokrzyski and compiled food distribution lists.

Concurrently with that operation, Antoni Burian, together with Witold Szymański and with the help of other people, packed food and posted numerous packages for privates and officers interned in POW camps in Germany. The packages were sent via the Polish Red Cross, as well as to individual addresses indicated by the postal service. I also know that the Szymański brothers, that is Witold, Gwidon, and Bogdan, were members of a patriotic organization and operated in the underground. I was not part of the organized underground and many important issues may have escaped my attention, but I know for sure that the activities at the store, presided over by Antoni Burian and Jan Izdebski, were completely selfless and only dictated by patriotic and humanitarian motives.

I am sending the present statement to Witold Szymański, currently residing in Parsippany, New Jersey, USA.

I have described all that I have remembered and, with the participation of a notary, appended my signature to the statement.

Irena Grzegorska