News

                            Fred Piegonski, Executive Assistant to the President  
               Los Angeles City College, 855 N. Vermont Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90029 
                           (323) 953-4000  ext. 2243      piegonfg@lacitycollege.edu                            

                      For Immediate Release:  December 21, 2006

A Philosophy Class Presents a Documentary on Genocide

Photo: Alicjia Burakowska

Photo: Marian Burakowski

Alicjia Burakowska and Marian Burakowski circa 1940

And an LACC Student Recalls Her Parents’ Heroism

The young woman grabs whatever jewelry she can and heads to the police station to see if she can bribe the police into releasing a friend who is being held as a prisoner.

His crime: he is Jewish.

But the authorities have already decided his fate and he is soon executed by the Gestapo.

It is Warsaw, Poland, 1942.

Fast forward 64 years. The young woman’s daughter, Liliana Tademar, is a student at Los Angeles City College. In her philosophy class, her professor, Arnold McMahon, shows a documentary about the killings in Ruanda in 1994. The class discusses genocide, and the teacher asks Ms. Tademar if the issue of genocide ever affected her, as he knows she is of Polish background.

Ms. Tademar confesses that, yes, it had affected her family. And she goes on to recount the remarkable story of her mother and father (both Christian) who during the Second World War sheltered 36 individuals of Jewish background in their home. They did this at great risk to themselves, as the punishment to those harboring Jews was immediate execution of all family members.

“Although my mother was an oral surgeon by trade, she always wanted to be a writer,” said Ms. Tademar. “And during the Second World War years she kept an active diary of what happened to her and her family in Warsaw, the capitol of Poland.”

This diary, which Ms. Tademar has transcribed and translated into English, records the many instances in which her mother and father, Alicjia Burakowska and Marian Burakowski, hid Jews in their home for shorter and longer periods of time during the war years.

Several months after the Germans invaded Poland, in January of 1940, her parents took in their first Jewish family, Edward Fisch, his wife Paulina, their son Adam, 14, and a family friend Helena. They hid them in their basement, or in their grandfather’s mill in a village outside of Warsaw. The Fisch family survived the war and later resettled in Paris.

For saving the lives of Edward Fisch and his family, Ms. Tademar’s parents were recognized in the early 80s by Yad Vashem, the Israeli holocaust memorial organization.

“When gentiles are bestowed this honor, they are awarded a medal and certificate attesting to their valiant acts of heroism,” said Ms. Tademar. “And they are entitled to plant a tree in the Valley of the Just in Jerusalem. There is a tree there with my parents’ names.”

Her parents also helped a young Jewish man, Jan Kowalski, and his girl friend Maria Brumer. They found a place for them to hide in a town outside of Warsaw called Jozefow. An overzealous police officer stopped Jan and took him in for questioning. The authorities weren’t convinced by his reverse circumcision operation and he was shot. His girl friend was spared due to the bribes of Ms. Tademar’s mother.

Another story in the diary recounts the fate of Ms. Tademar’s uncle, who belonged to the Polish underground. Her mother’s brother, Ryszard Dabrowski, was only 23 when he was discovered, captured and sent to Auschwitz where he died.

Ms. Tademar has taken it upon herself to self-publish her mother’s diary. She began transcribing the diaries in 1992 and thus far she has brought forth a portion that covers the pre-war years. “I do it to keep the memory of my mother and parents alive,” said Ms. Tademar. “It is a labor of love.” ( Her father died in 1985, her mother in 1996)

 

Photo: Liliana Tademar




 

 

 

Liliana Tademar

Ms. Tademar has been attending LACC since 2001 and will soon complete work on her major in English.  She herself was born in Gdynia, Poland, a town near Gdansk.  She immigrated to the United States in 1968.   

“The Jews felt like hunted animals.  They were so desperate to move around freely, which they could not do,” said Ms. Tademar.  “One day Mr. Fisch asked my mother if he could ‘borrow’ my one-year old brother as a cover so he could walk the streets of the city. Without thinking about it, my mother handed him my brother.   The family was very concerned because he did not come back for 12 hours.  The taste of freedom was too intoxicating for him.”  

 

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