Jerzy Bielecki, a Pole who managed to pull off an audacious rescue of his girlfriend from the Nazis’ death camp at Auschwitz, has died at the age of 90. In 1985, Bielecki was awarded the Yad Vashem Institute‘s Righteous Among the Nations award for his bravery.
In 1944, age 23, Bielecki was a German-speaking Catholic prisoner at Auschwitz. This relatively privileged position allowed him to get a copy of an SS uniform and, pretending to be taking her to an interrogation, he led Cyla Cybulska straight out of a side gate.
After hiding at Bielecki’s uncle’s house, the couple were separated and failed to meet again after the war. But in the 80’s, a chance encounter led to them being reunited in the summer of 1982 at Krakow Airport. A cleaning woman working for Cybulska, who now lived in New York, recognised that her boss was telling the same story as a man she had recently seen interviewed in a documentary.