Warszawa / Grochów / 81 Waszyngtona Avenue
  • The spot where the tenement house at 81 Waszyngtona Avenue used to stand, 2015, photo: M. Szczepaniak, POLIN Museum

  • Stefan Pokropek, prewar, photo: family archive, POLIN Museum

  • Eleonora Pokropek, prewar, photo: family archive, POLIN Museum

  • Marek Edelman, Jerzy Pokropek and Kazik Ratajzer, 1990s, photo: family archive, POLIN Museum

  • Jerzy Pokropek’s account, 2014, POLIN Museum

The Pokropek Family

“My father realised it was not a joke and shot himself in the head, to finish himself”, relates Jerzy Pokropek, Stefan’s son. “He did not want to endure tortures.”

Stefan Pokropek was a stonemason, his wife Eleonora was a street vendor on Ząbkowska Street. During the German occupation they lived on Waszyngtona Avenue, together with their two daughters and a son. Mr Pokropek was involved in conspiratorial activities, and made contact with the ghetto fighters, Marek Edelman amongst them.

“There was a station in Grochów. They used to bring Jews from the ghetto there to work. It is most likely that my father met Edelman right there”, says Jerzy. “They needed arms, my father was trying to help. They would bring clothes which my mother then sold at the market.”

The Prokopeks hid Jews in their apartment, including two Jewish fighters: Tadek Szejngut and Kazik Ratajzer. On 23 June 1943 shooting broke out on Waszyngtona Street. It was then that Stefan Prokopek committed suicide. “Father was walking back from the market. He knew someone was following him. As soon as he managed to get home, the gendarmes started banging on the door. They started shooting through the door, my father was wounded. He called to my sister: ‘Basia, run away through the window!’ She took Kazik by the hand and jumped. Tadek ran to the other side of the street, towards the field. There, he collapsed.”

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