Celina Bar-Natan

BAR-NATAN, Celina
Celina Kujawska was 21 years old when she left her hometown for Warsaw, where she became acquainted with Dr. Adam Rakower and his family. In 1940, Dr. Rakower was arrested by the Gestapo and executed. His wife, Alina, and three-year-old daughter, Elzbieta, were interned in the ghetto, but they remained in contact with Celina. She sent them food parcels, and upon learning of the seriousness of their situation visited them secretly and tried to convince Alina to flee with her daughter. Her efforts were in vain, however.

It was only at the end of 1942, after a large-scale Aktion in the ghetto, that little Elzbieta was concealed inside a sack and entrusted to Celina’s care. Alina herself escaped the next day, and with the help of a Polish acquaintance, Stefan Muras, an apartment was rented for Celina and the fugitives in a suburb of the city. Celina was fully aware of the danger of the enterprise, and great precautions were taken to conceal the presence of the Jewish mother and her child. One day Germans raided the apartment, and only a bribe saved the lives of Alina and her daughter. The three decided to leave Warsaw and, assisted by Muras, they rented an apartment in the summer resort of Anin, near Warsaw. After a time, they were joined by Alina’s sister, Felicias Gelbard, whom Celina brought over from her hiding place in a nearby township in a journey fraught with difficulties. The fugitives lived in constant danger, and it was only owing to Celina’s courage, prudence, and presence of mind that they succeeded in remaining alive until the liberation in January 1945. The survivors later testified that their rescue had been undertaken by Celina in a spirit of selflessness and true friendship, which withstood the perils of the time. After the war, the three maintained their warm friendship and close contact with Celina, who cast in her lot with the Jewish people, converted to Judaism, and immigrated to Israel with her husband.

On December 23, 1987, Yad Vashem recognized Celina Bar-Natan née Kujawska as Righteous Among the Nations.

(Excerpt from “The Encyclopedia of the Righteous Among the Nastions”, Poland, Yad Vashem Publications, p. 71)