„It was hard for me, too – I was alone with three children of my own, but I simply could not reject this little boy who craved motherly care,” Krystyna Zambrzycka recalls. It was her tenant, Mr Hankiewicz, who brought 6-year-old Gabryś to 67 Filtrowa St. He said nothing about boy’s mother who was in hiding, nor his father who was in Auschwitz. “[…] He paid a tiny bit to provide for the food; anyway, I did understand the predicament Jews were in at the time.”
The building of the ‘Joint Anchor’ Housing Cooperative was constructed in the 1920s. Krystyna’s family moved in soon after. Following the death of her father in December 1942, she decided to sublet one room. To quote Jan Wojeński, Krystyna’s son, two ‘likeable blondes’ lived there until a Gestapo raid. “A German yelled at my mum: ‘Don’t you know you are hiding Jewesses?’.” They threw the girls’ belongings through the window, onto a cart parked below. “The cart was driven by a Polish woman who was later seen in Ochota in the company of Germans. Several months later Mr Hankiewicz moved in, and soon afterwards Gabryś joined in. The boy knew Catholic prayers, and knew how to make the sign of the cross.
On 8 August 1944, Germans forced all the residents to leave the building. During the wanderings that followed, Krystyna placed the boy in an orphanage not far from Skierniewice, where he was sought out by his mother in 1945.