Malinowski (Mersyk), Edward

Malinowski (Mersyk), Edward

Survivor/Escapee, Hidden
Warsaw (Poland), Pruszkow, Grodzisk, Zyrardow

Edward Malinowski was born Edward Mersyk in Warsaw, Poland in 1939. Growing up in Warsaw, Edward’s family lived on Nowolipki Street, which later became part of the Warsaw ghetto. Because Edward was so young at the time, he only has vague memories of the events that took place within the ghetto. His first memories include looking out of his apartment’s balcony on Nowolipki 13 and staring out at a garden across the street.

His first vivid memory was also perhaps his most traumatic experience during the Holocaust. One day in 1943, when he was only four years old, Edward was left home in his apartment with his grandfather, while both of Edward’s parents were away at work. Edward then remembers hiding in the loft of the apartment building with his grandfather, when, all of a sudden, two German soldiers came storming in and discovered their hiding place. One of the soldiers began ruthlessly beating Edward’s grandfather with the butt end of his rifle, while Edward could only look on in horror. Afterwards, both he and his grandfather were taken out of the apartment and sent to a holding area in the Warsaw ghetto known as the Umschlagplatz. The Umschlagplatz was a notorious spot in the Warsaw ghetto, because it was from here that many Jews were deported to Treblinka. After Edward’s father came home from work that evening, he realized that neither his father-in-law, nor his son, were any longer in the apartment. He immediately went to the Umschlagplatz, in order to retrieve his son. As Edward recalls, his father bribed the Jewish officers to let his son go by concocting a story that his son had typhus and was in desperate need of medical care.  Edward also remembers that this was the last time he ever recalls seeing his grandfather.

Edward was then taken into a hospital in the ghetto as a typhus case. Edward did not stay there long, for his next memory was of him riding in the bottom of a carriage, stuffed in between boxes of food. Little did Edward know at the time, but his father was smuggling the family out of the Warsaw ghetto. Once the family was outside of the ghetto, they went into hiding in different apartment buildings across Warsaw. Their first stop was an apartment building located near the Vistula River, but they did not stay there long, because the husband of the wife who was keeping the family there came home drunk one day, screaming that there were Jews in his house and he was going to expose them to the police. As Edward asserts, his father was ingenious at finding locations for his family to stay. The next location where they stayed was an apartment located next to the Ok?cie Airport on Grojecka street. Edward says that this particular apartment complex had taken damage during the initial German attacks on Warsaw, and his father, being a prominent lawyer in Warsaw, helped to pay for the repair expenses. Therefore, the Polish family living there was happy to take them in.

Edward’s family stayed at this apartment for quite some time. A short time after arriving there, Edward’s aunt Janina Kohn and her daughter also came to stay with the Malinowskis. While here, Edward’s father began to try to get in contact with members of the resistance in Warsaw. One day, a man showed up at the apartment, who was supposed take his father to a meeting of the resistance. However, this had been a set up, for his father was sent directly to the Gestapo.  Edward and his mother did not find this out until a week later after he did not return.

Edward, his mother, his Aunt Janina, and his cousin remained in this apartment until August 1944, when the Warsaw uprising began. One day, the area where the apartment was located began to be bombarded by German soldiers. While hiding out in the basement of the apartment complex, the area came under heavy cross fire. Edward and his family fled the building, fearing for their lives. Many people were shot down in the streets, but all of Edward’s family was able to safely hide in a garden across the street. A few days later, a German officer came across their hiding place. Edward’s Aunt Janina began communicating with the soldier in German. The German soldier then gave the family some food to eat and told them to stay there, because he was going to come back to help them. While awaiting the German officer’s return, another SS soldier, this time a Ukrainian, discovered them in the garden. The Ukrainian soldier immediately began screaming at them and calling them Jews. He forced them to line up against a nearby building to be shot. Edward’s mother and aunt began screaming and pleading for their lives, when the German officer that they had met earlier returned. He ordered the Ukrainian guard to hold his fire, telling him that there was to be no more killing.

Edward and his family stayed a few days at a local florist shop, before they, with many others, were deported from the city, which was still under heavy fire. They traveled west by train to the nearby city of Pruszkow and were temporarily placed in a holding camp. Edward and his family, fearing what could happen if they stayed at the camp, escaped one night. For the remainder of the war, Edward and his family spent most of their time traveling on false papers along the EKD railway system. They moved from Pruszkow to Grodzisk, and from Grodzisk to Zyrardow. Finally, Zyrardow was liberated by the Russians in 1945. A week later, the family returned to Warsaw and stayed in Janina’s former apartment, which was one of the few buildings left standing on the street. Edward remained in Warsaw through his childhood, and he even attended Warsaw University and medical school there. In 1968, after a revolt of Polish intellectualists was put down by the government, the government stripped Edward of his prestigious position at Warsaw University, blaming the revolt on the Jews. Finally, Edward was able to obtain a passport and a visa. He temporarily stayed in Austria and Italy, before finally immigrating to the United States in 1969. Edward moved to Detroit and became a prominent cardiologist working at Sinai-Grace hospital.

Interview Information:
Date: May 12, 1993
Interviewer: Rabbi Charles Rosenzveig
Length: 1 hour, 1 minute
Format: Video Recording