Edzia (Yehudit) Fefer Drach
Edzia Fefer was born in 1919 in Ostrowiec, . She became involved in Zionist activity and in September 1942 escaped to Warsaw with friends including Rina Niskier. Later she met Janina Grundgand Kulwieć who helped in providing Aryan papers for her, her brother Motek and her Ostrowiec friends . Stefania (Stefcia) Janiszewska was the Aryan name Edzia went under after getting the fake papers from Janina.
After the war, she moved to Israel and married Mr. Drach.
Below is her testimony given to Yad Vashem in 1963 ( Testimonies Department of the Yad Vashem Archives File Number: 2313)
I, Jehudit /Edzia/ Drach, nee Fefer, was born in Ostrowiec in 1922. My parents owned a shoe store. I had another five brothers. Over the years I belonged to the Zionist organization "Hanoar Hatzioni." I completed primary school, and then a "vocational school" in Ostrowiec.
The war found me in Ostrowiec. In September 1942, I escaped from Ostrowiec. On the same day, from the morning, preparations were being made for an "action" and I fled in the evening. There was great tension in the city, as there were lots of Gestapo men. I felt that either I would be able to flee during that night, or I would never flee.
A few weeks before that I had a fake kennkarte made for myself. I was persuaded to do so by a girlfriend of mine who had dealings with the city hall. So I bought the fake ID and kept it at home. I waited for the right moment. On the same night I decided to escape.
I left home, but right off on the road I was stopped by Gestapo men who wanted to detain me, but somehow I broke free. I went to Warsaw. I got an address in Warsaw from a neighbor, a Jew - a refugee from Germany. His wife was German and she gave me the address of her friend, pointing out that I was not allowed to say that I was Jewish and then maybe her friend would help me get a job.
In Warsaw I went to see her. She was German, but her husband was Polish and was imprisoned by the Germans at the time. I stayed with her for a week and she even got me a job, but I was not used to such work. It was the work of a maid at a doctor's house. I couldn't work and after a week this doctor didn't want to keep me any longer.
I turned back to this German woman, but she could not help me anymore. I went to Bochnia, where my brother was, but there I learned that the Germans had already taken him away after discovering that he was a Jew. I returned to Warsaw completely disappointed. I didn't think at all about going back to the ghetto, but I had nowhere to go. I only hoped that maybe the Germans would catch me to send to work to Germany. But I wasn't caught. I was walking down the street with my suitcase and already wanted to report to the Gestapo. However, I still had a bit of jewelry and money from home and it was a shame for it to get into German hands. So I decided to go to this woman once again and give it all to her, because staying with her I saw that her material condition was not good. Although her husband was some kind of higher civil servant, but the Germans had imprisoned him as a hostage in Warsaw. His wife was left alone with her mother, in poor conditions. They were very nice people.
So I decided to give the jewelry to this woman ,and then go to the Gestapo. I went to her and told her that I was Jewish. She got very scared, I told her not to, because I was already leaving and I just wanted her to take my jewelry from me, because I was going to go to the Gestapo.
She, however, objected, telling me that if I still have money, I can still manage. She advised me to go to Zakopane and there, because I'm young, maybe I will be able to find some highlander who will marry me, because there is always time for me to die. She did not want to take anything from me, but asked me to leave, because she was very afraid. She suggested that we meet in a patisserie. So I went down to that patisserie, where I waited for her for about an hour. When she finally came, she told me not to go to Zakopane, but to go to Janka Grundgand. It turned out that by some divine arrangement right after I left, Janka Grundgand, who was a distant relative of hers, came to see her. She generally visited her extremely rarely, but that day she decided to pay her a visit. Being very touched by my situation, she told Janka about me, and the latter declared that she could help me. She worked in the Polish underground organization /AK/.
So, after receiving the address, I immediately went to her. In front of me I saw a very pretty girl, with lovely eyes. She told me on the spot that she was able to help me. I told her that I think she knows what she is taking on, because my destiny is to die, but why does she want to risk her life? To this she laughed and told me that it was none of my business.
I stayed overnight at her place and then she sent me to her sister, Mrs. Merson to work at her place. In the meantime she procured another ID for me in the name of Stefcia Janiszewska.
I worked at her sister's for three weeks, maybe even a little more, but I couldn't be there any longer. By that time I had already gained self-confidence, so that I was already looking for a job myself. Nevertheless, I was in contact with her all the time. One day I got a note to visit Basia Halbersztat and my sister-in-law Wiesia. I went to them and it turned out that they were in the hands of blackmailers. After a few days my sister-in-law came to me and told me that they had a big blackmail and are on the street and can I help them? I gave her the address of Janka Grundgand and immediately contacted her myself. As a result, she took both of them in and put them up.
I also had contact all the time with Renia Szewes, who was in the ghetto, and I wanted to take her from Ostrowiec to Warsaw. I even sent a man to bring her. Janka Grundgand helped me with this, but this friend of mine did not come this time, but a little later, together with a friend. She came directly to me and I went immediately to Janka, who took care of the matter... Janka arranged for her some ID and a place to stay.
At that time I received a message from my friend Hinda Malachi, who was in the hands of blackmailers. She came to me because she knew where I was, as I worked as a nurse at a consul's house at the time and went for walks with their child. He was the consul of Finland, of Polish descent, named Cetkiewicz. I went for walks with their child every day, so that I could be met at a certain place. So Hinda Malachi also benefited from the help of Janka Grundgand.
Janka also had an ID made for my brother.
I myself often visited her. It was for me, you could say, my home, because in every place where I worked, I was someone else and no one could know where I was from. I would come to Janka and there I was myself. I could talk about everything with her, tell her about all the troubles and misfortunes. She was truly a soulmate for me.
Once, when I didn't have a job again, I went to Janka and at that time she told me that according to a newspaper ad, they were looking for a nurse, and if a referral was needed, she would arrange one. I got the job (at the consul's) precisely thanks to her reference. I worked there for two years, i.e. until the end of the war. Their attitude towards me was extraordinary. I shared a room with their daughter and we were satisfied with each other.
I did not stop my contact with Janka Grundgand until the outbreak of the Polish uprising. Before the uprising we went to Żyrardów for a summer camp. This saved me from the uprising because we were in a quiet place where we felt nothing bad. I was there until the Russians came, in January 1945. Then I was liberated. The contact with Janka was discontinued, as I didn't know where she was and had no more news from her. She contacted Renia Szewes once, but now contact is being established between us again.
After the liberation of Warsaw, Hinda Malachi's husband came to see me and took me to Lublin, because there was a meeting place for all surviving Jews. There I worked for the Russians in the NKVD, but I saw that anti-Semitism was the same as it was with the Poles. I worked there in mail control; it was quite a good job, but nothing came of it.
So I decided to leave Poland. I established contact with a Zionist organization and by an illegal route, even though there was some risk involved, I left Poland, together with a group of refugees from the camps. We went to Czechoslovakia, from there to Romania, then to Hungary, and finally through Italy, I got into the country [Palestine]. This was in October 1945.
In Italy I was together with Renia Szewes, but she went to the country before me thanks to some kind of patronage. I met with the rest of my girlfriends in the country. They came later.
We are currently in contact together with Ms. Janina Grundgand.
In Israel I live in the moshav of HaYogev, near Afula. My husband is a bookkeeper there.
/Edzia Drach, nee Fefer/