Friday TreasurePods love story… Cyla was sent Auschwitz with her parents and siblings in 1943. She was the only member of her family who left the camp alive, and she owed her life entirely to a man named Jerzy Bielecki. Jerzy had been in the camp for three years when Cyla arrived. He was a Roman Catholic, imprisoned for helping the Polish resistance. She was a Jew.
Jerzy was working in a grain silo when he first saw a young woman repairing sacks and they were soon smitten. Jerzy made it his goal to get her out.
He spent eight months stitching together a guard’s uniform using scraps of material one of his friends was able to steal from a warehouse. He stole a pass and forged documents for taking a prisoner to work at a nearby farm. On July 21, 1944, he collected Cyla from her barracks, and they walked out of the gate. They didn’t stop for 10 days until they reached the home of one of Jerzy’s relatives. He rejoined the Polish resistance and found a hiding place for Cyla using his contacts. He went to fight, with no idea he wouldn’t see Cyla again for almost forty years.
Somehow, each came to believe the other had died. Cyla moved to Brooklyn and married, while Jerzy started a family in Poland. In 1983, Cyla told the story to her housekeeper, who found the words familiar, saying, “I saw a man telling the story on Polish television. He’s alive.”
Cyla was able to find his phone number and saw him a few weeks later. When she arrived at the airport in Krakow, Jerzy gave her 39 roses, one for each year since they’d last been together.
What do you treasure?
Story adapted from 10 Inspiring Stories of True Love from The Holocaust by Alan Boyle
Original photos via Jerzy Bielecki