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Video interview with Esfira Maiman
Robert Hans Olschwanger - Esfira's cousin

This is the remarkable story of two women who came from different backgrounds. Stanislawa Slawinska was a Polish Catholic woman, from a modest family, who up to the breakout of WWII lived a peaceful life in the quiet town of Grodzisk Mazowiecki. Esfira Maiman was also born in Poland, but unlike Stanislawa, she is Jewish. She grew up in a big city – Lodz, to a well-to-do family. The tragic circumstances of war created a sisterhood between the two of them, that lives on 60 years later.
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Back in April, 2008, our Israeli offices were approached by Michele Yankelevich. She wanted to share with us the wonderful story about her 94-year old mother, Esfira Maiman and looked for our help.
Esfira survived the Holocaust thanks to a noble Polish Catholic woman who risked her own life in order to save her, as well as several other Jews.

Michele and her brother Yossi Maiman (one of the most prominent businessmen in Israel), have heard their mother's story for as long as they could remember.
Esfira managed to escape from the Warsaw Ghetto and found shelter in the nearby Grodzisk Mazowiecki, at the house of Stanislawa Slawinska, at 3 Maja Street. There she stayed from 1943 till the end of the war, together with other Jews who had also found shelter at Stanislawa's place.

The house at 3 Maja Street – Grodzisk Mazowiecki, where Stanislawa Slawinska hid the fleeing Jews.
The house at 3 Maja Street – Grodzisk Mazowiecki, where Stanislawa Slawinska hid the fleeing Jews.

Esfira lost contact with Stanislawa, or "Stacha" as she refers to her, back in 1948, when the former emigrated from Germany to Peru.
Dozens of letters with money that were sent by Esfira, seem to have gone lost (or most likely intercepted by the Communist regime in Poland).

As far as Esfira was concerned, the lost touch was an open wound. Despite her advanced age, Esfira's mind is completely lucid. She knew very well that the chances of Stacha still being alive are very slim but she remembers that her rescuer, who was childless, had a little nephew by the name of Roman Slawinski (better known as Romek). According to her calculations, if he is still alive, he should be in his late seventies.
Romek himself was a heroic child. He helped the Polish anti-nazi resistance, running errands for them and he also knew the terrible secret of his aunt and knew to keep it for himself. That was an incredible burden for a small boy.

Roman Slawinski (in the center of the photo),
Roman Slawinski (in the center of the photo),
as a young man, in the 50's

Esfira had a yearning. To get in touch again with Romek and to have Stacha recognized by the world for what she was: an heroic rescuer.
Michele told us that back in 2006, with the help of her daughters, Esfira wrote to Yad Vashem, asking them to recognize her rescuer as Righteous among Nations, but no significant reply was ever received.

Esfira's original handwritten testimony in Polish.

Roman Slawinski - Recent photo.
Roman Slawinski - Recent photo.

A few days after our conversation with Michele, she organized for us a personal interview with her mother.

During three hours, Esfira related to us her breath-taking story.

She was born in Lodz, in 1914, to a relatively wealthy family. Her mother, Fanny Olschwanger was the cousin of Robert Hans Olschwanger, a brilliant caricaturist who managed to flee Nazi Germany. Coincidentally, our Foundation opened in May 2008 a special Exhibit in Berlin, together with the Vaterunse Gemeinde Protestant Church, featuring the anti-Nazi caricatures of Olschwanger.

 

This website was set-up by Casa Argentina en Israel - Tierra Santa and The International Raoul Wallenberg Foundation, which conducted the research into the life-saving actions of Stanislawa Slawinska and made possible the reestablishment of the connection between Esfira Maiman and Roman (Romek) Slawinski (Stanislawa's nephew).

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Untitled Document

© 2008 The International Raoul Wallenberg Foundation & Casa Argentina en Israel- Tierra Santa.
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