I come from an assimilated Jewish family. My religious affiliation is Evangelical Reformed. My father, Jerzy Berland, was a well-known lawyer who specialized in penal law. My mother did not work. We did not live in the ghetto. After we were expelled from our flat at Hoża Street 42, we lived at Dolna Street 39, under the false name of Bielecki. When the war broke out, I was 13 and I was studying, under my real name, at the Juliusz Słowacki secondary school, receiving a secret education and attending a so-called vocational school. On 27 March 1943, following a denunciation, criminal police arrested my parents and sealed the flat. They staked out the place waiting for me until the curfew. I had been warned and that is what saved me. The neighbors put me up for the night and on the morning of 28 March, I immediately went to Mr. and Mrs. Stromenger, whose daughter Zuzanna I had known since before the war, having attended religious education classes with her. I had no personal belongings nor money. I described my circumstances, asking to be put up for a couple of days. I was hoping that the organization I belonged to (the Gray Ranks) would help me. Without a moment’s hesitation, Mrs. Stromenger offered me their hospitality until the end of the war and the chance to study together with Zuzanna (we were in the same grade, only she attended the Zofia Kurmanowa secondary school).
I took up residence in this cold, under-heated flat, and after a couple of days, I realized that there were a lot of precious items around (as it turned out, they were someone else’s, because the Stromenger family were fire victims), and my hosts were starving. They ate potatoes with beetroot or salt. To eat her fill, Zuzanna donated blood in the children’s hospital on Kopernika Street (she was 17). Mr. and Mrs. Stromenger and Zuzanna offered me great kindness and care and never let me feel that my presence not only put them at grave risk but also depleted their food resources, which were meager anyway.
After my organization helped me in obtaining a false ID in the name of Joanna Borowicz and false registration documents, in May 1943, after the uprising in the ghetto collapsed, I moved to Filtrowa Street 68, flat 132, to Mrs. Hanna Długoszowska, whose sons collaborated with me in the underground. I lived there until the outbreak of the Warsaw Uprising (both sons of Mrs. Długoszowska died in the uprising, and she took her own life in 1951, having been persecuted by the Secret Police). Living at Hanna Długoszowska’s, I was treated like a family member, although she had never seen me before I moved in, nor had she known my parents. During the war, I was lucky to keep coming across brave and good people who saw helping the needy as their duty, and luckily they were not persecuted because of me.
Being aware of my situation, Mrs. Helena Kasperowicz, the principal of the Juliusz Słowacki secondary school, agreed to my continuing the secret education (free of charge, of course), which enabled me to pass my final exams in July 1944.
I took part in the Warsaw Uprising as a paramedic in the “Gurt” unit of the Home Army. Wounded in action on 31 August, I was awarded a Cross of Valor. After the uprising, I lived with Mrs. Długoszowska in Piastów, working as an administrative officer until the establishment of the medical faculty at the University of Warsaw in 1945.
After the liberation of Warsaw, in March, we returned to Filtrowa Street 68, flat 132.
The above account can be corroborated by my ex-husband, Wojciech Makólski (b. 1928) and Dr. Teresa Majlert (b. 1925), my friend.
Joanna Zofia Makólska-Kowalska
75 years of age, retired oncologist.
[Former places of residence] in Warsaw: Hoża Street 42, flat 6; Dolna Street 39, flat 6; 6 Sierpnia Street 21, flat 5; Filtrowa Street 68, flat 32; in Piastów: Namysłowskiego Street, until the liberation
Corroboration of the account of Joanna Makólska-Kowalska, née Berland
I have known Joanna Makólska-Kowalska née Berland since childhood. Together, we attended a comprehensive school and have been friends all our lives. During the Nazi occupation, my father, Professor Bohdan Michałowski, MD, Ph.D, helped Joanna and her parents on multiple occasions when they lived under false names at Dolna Street 39, flat 6. After Mr. and Mrs. Berland were arrested in 1943, their daughter Joanna was hiding at her friend Zuzanna Stromenger’s parents’ place. They lived at 6 sierpnia Street 21 and were fire victims, and despite that, they took care of Joanna selflessly and additionally helped her when she had no source of livelihood whatsoever. I knew her situation well because she would come to our place at Sienna Street 28, flat 3, and my parents helped her prepare packages to send to the Pawiak prison. At first, Joanna thought that that was where her parents had been sent.
Teresa Maria Majlert née Michałowska,
daughter of Bohdan and Bronisława née Lubodziecka,
b. 11 July 1925 in Warsaw,
retired pediatric surgeon
1943 address: Warsaw, Sienna Street 28, flat 5
I have known Zuzanna Stromenger since 1936, we attended the same comprehensive school. During the German occupation, after her place at Wilcza Street 5, flat 9, burned down, she lived with her parents at 6 sierpnia Street 21, flat 5 (presently Wyzwolenia Avenue). I was there many times and I saw persons of Jewish origins who lived there enjoying the status of subtenants (I do not know their names).
From March 1943, Joanna Berland, my future wife, was hiding there, her parents having been arrested following a denunciation, and she herself being wanted by the Gestapo.
Maria and Karol Stromenger and their daughter Zuzanna took care of Joanna, despite their own poverty and the danger they were in because of her presence there.
Wojciech Aleksander Zygmunt Makólski,
b. 27 February 1928 in Warsaw,
son of Zygmunt and Irena née Tokarska,
retired administrative officer
1943 address: Łomianki near Warsaw, “Łukaszówek”.