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July 21: Jerzy Bielecki’s Christian Foundation of Auschwitz Families

July 21, 2014
Jerzy BieleckiJerzy Bielecki, a Polish social worker who survived for four years in Auschwitz, escaped with the Jewish inmate he loved, Tzila Cybulska, on this date in 1944. Bielecki had been captured by the Gestapo while crossing the Hungarian border in 1940, and was on the first transport of 728 Polish political prisoners to the newly built camp at Auschwitz. His fluency in German allowed him to be assigned work at an Auschwitz subcamp, where he made contact with the Polish anti-Nazi resistance and also met Cybulska, who was suffering through hard labor. Bielecki and Cybulska managed to walk out of Auschwitz with a fake order forged by Bielecki, who was wearing a stolen SS uniform. They trekked for ten days — sometimes he carried her — until finding shelter with his family and friends. Bielecki became active in the resistance, and the lovers were separated by the end of the war, each believing that the other had died. In May 1983, the two of them met for the first time since in thirty-nine years. Bielecki co-founded and chaired the Christian Association of the Auschwitz Families, and was inscribed by Yad Vashem as one of the Righteous Among the Nations in 1985. He died at age 90 in 2011. “Sometimes I cried after the war, that she was not with me. Fate decided for us, but I would do the same again.” —Jerzy Bielecki