Węgrów citizen honoured by Pilecki Institute for helping Jews during WWII

Leokadia Piątkowska, murdered by the Germans for helping Mendel Klein and another Jew, whose name is unknown, was honoured on Tuesday in Węgrów, central Poland, as the 53rd person under the programme of the Pilecki Institute “Called by Name”.

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At noon in the Basilica of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Węgrów, a solemn mass was held. Then, at the Roundabout of Righteous Among the Nations from Węgrów, a stone was unveiled with a plaque commemorating Leokadia Piątkowska and the Jews, Mendel Klein, and a second man, who were provided with shelter by Ms Piątkowska. All three were murdered by the Germans on January 27, 1944.

Deputy Minister of Culture and National Heritage Magdalena Gawin, who initiated the action “Called by Name,” said that Ms Piątkowska “was murdered for showing a heroic attitude.” “She was an ordinary inhabitant of Węgrów, with an extraordinary heart and extraordinary courage,” she stressed.

She recalled that facing death, Leokadia Piątkowska said: “Only I helped. My whole family of nine living with me knew nothing. Only I was to blame.” "She took full responsibility and thanks to that, her family survived,” Ms Gawin said.

“We meet here to remember this. Remembering is our duty. This memory stems from the family, who, so far, have carried this tragic story alone, so let's help them with that,” she added.

The ceremony was attended by, among other people, Jolanta Bardadyn, great-granddaughter of the commemorated, and the director of the Pilecki Institute, Wojciech Kozłowski.

Leokadia Piątkowska is the 53rd person commemorated as part of the programme of the Pilecki Institute “Called by Name.” This programme is dedicated to people of Polish nationality murdered for helping Jews during the German occupation, whose stories are often unknown to the general public. The Pilecki Institute is making efforts to make these local experiences part of the general historical awareness.