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The photograph was taken either in 1942 or 1943, in the times of the Kraków ghetto in Podgórze. It presents Tadeusz Pankiewicz accompanied by his employees: Helena Krywaniuk (in the background), Aurelia Danek (in the middle) and Irena Droździkowska. Contrary to their superior, the women did not stay in the ghetto at night.

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The photograph was taken either in 1942 or 1943, in the times of the Kraków ghetto in Podgórze. It presents Tadeusz Pankiewicz accompanied by his employees: Helena Krywaniuk (in the background), Aurelia Danek (in the middle) and Irena Droździkowska. Contrary to their superior, the women did not stay in the ghetto at night. The photograph also shows the interior of the pharmacy — a typical counter with pharmaceutical scales, medicine cabinets in the background. This perspective suggests that the photograph must have been taken by someone standing in the front door of the building.
The Pod Orłem [Eagle] Pharmacy was located in the corner of the then Zgody Square (today the Ghetto Heroes’ Square — Plac Bohaterów Getta) and Targowa Street, in the very heart of the ghetto which was created in this part of Podgórze on 21 March 1941. Although Pankiewicz was not of Jewish origin, he resolved to stay in the “Jewish district” until the tragic liquidation of the Jewish community on 13 and 14 March 1943. He was the only “Aryan” to be granted the permit to reside in the ghetto not only during the opening hours of the pharmacy, but also at night, in the duty room serving as Pankiewicz’s flat. The pharmacist was afraid that he could lose his family business and preferred not to leave the facility unattended, knowing how easily and with impunity the occupant took over each property. When resolving to stay in the ghetto, he was not yet aware of the inhuman scenes he was about to witness. What he also didn’t know was that his pharmacy would become an oasis, the poor substitute for normality and freedom in a world where the passing of each day minimised hope for survival. At that time, he could not have known that he and his pharmacy would be remembered until the present day by those few who survived.
On the pharmacy door there was the inscription, Apteka J. Pankiewicza [J. Pankiewicz’s Pharmacy], referring to the name of his father, Józef Pankiewicz, who had arrived in dynamically developing Free City of Podgórze (connected to Kraków as late as 1915) together with his family from Sambor at the beginning of 1909. At the end of 1909, Józef managed to obtain a licence to open a pharmacy at the newly-created Small Square (Mały Rynek — called this way in contrast to the Podgórze Main Square of the then still independent Podgórze district); today’s address: 18 Ghetto Heroes’ Square. In 1930, having obtained a certificate at the Faculty of Pharmacy at Jagiellonian University, Tadeusz joined his father’s business and took over the management of the family company three years later. Today the pharmacy is a branch of the Historical Museum of the City of Kraków and commemorates this place as a unique one on the map of the ghetto.

Elaborated by the editorial team of Małopolska’s Virtual Museums, CC-BY 3.0 PL

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In the shadow of Tadeusz Pankiewicz – Irka, Helena and Aurelia

Although some things can be said about Tadeusz Pankiewicz, little is known about his three employees who assisted him in the ”Pod Orłem” [”Eagle”] Pharmacy. We know them from occupational photographs in which they were shown accompanying their manager. Smiling, amiable, young. But what do we actually know about them?

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Irena Droździkowska, Krakow, Pod Orłem (Eagle) Pharmacy,
1941—43. 
Property of the Historical Museum of the City of Krakow.

Although some things can be said about Tadeusz Pankiewicz, little is known about his three employees who assisted him in the ”Pod Orłem” [”Eagle”] Pharmacy. We know them from occupational photographs in which they were shown accompanying their manager. Smiling, amiable, young. But what do we actually know about them? Do we at least know their names? The most serious of them seems to be Irena, Helena always smiles, and Aurelia has slightly absent-minded eyes. On the day of the war outbreak they were 26, 21 and 23 years of age, respectively. But for their engagement it would not have been possible to create around the Pharmacy the whole system of aid for the Jews imprisoned in the ghetto. And yet the world seems to have forgotten them. None of them was honoured with the ”Righteous Among the Nations” medal…

People said that ”the soul of the pharmacy were Tadeusz and Irka”. Irka commented on this opinion: ”We saw what was going on in the ghetto, we had to help”. Unlike the two remaining employees, Irena Droździkowska (1913−1994) managed to finish pharmacy at the Jagiellonian University, hence she was a certified master of pharmacy and worked in her profession since 1936. Until 1 September 1939 she worked in the Mariańska Pharmacy in Rybnik. On this day she resolved to terminate the contract, seeing the extremely enthusiastic reaction of its staff to the entry of the Germans to Poland; the staff had even begun to speak only German. She returned to Kraków. At that time she did not know Tadeusz Pankiewicz, who − just like most of the Kraków population − decided to escape to the East after the occupant had entered the city. He reached Lviv, but in November 1939 he was back in Kraków. Then, Irena, who later was to become a close friend of Pankiewicz, was already working in the ”Pod Orłem” [”Eagle”] Pharmacy. On 10 September, upon the request of the Pankiewicz family, who knew Droździkowska from the circle of Kraków pharmacists, she re-opened the pharmacy, which had been closed from the onset of the war, and ran it until the return of Tadeusz. She continued working there until 1951 (the date of nationalisation of all pharmacies in Poland).

When the pharmacy became enclosed within the ghetto and the workload increased, two pharmacy students joined the staff in 1941: in May − Aurelia Danek (1916−1995), and in December − the youngest of them, Helena Krywaniuk (1918−1994). The outbreak of war had stopped their education and now, recommended by Irena Droździkowska as trustworthy persons, they were accepted to the ”Pod Orłem” [”Eagle”] Pharmacy for apprenticeship. They already knew that the role of the facility at Zgoda Square went far beyond the function of mere provision of medicines. They soon became engaged in helping the ghetto residents. It was Aurelia who transported one of the Torahs stored by Pankiewicz outside the ghetto. She did it on a children’s scooter, carrying the precious scroll in a travel bag through one of the ghetto gates, while Helena and Irka distracted the attention of the guards, engaging them in a conversation.

Helena Krywaniuk. Kraków, Pod Orłem [Eagle”] Pharmacy,
1941—43. 
Property of the Historical Museum of the City of Kraków.
Aurelia Danek. Kraków, 
Pod Orłem (Eagle) Pharmacy, 
1941—43. 
Property of the Historical
Museum of the City of Kraków.

Even after the tragic liquidation of the ghetto, all three women did not stop their work in the pharmacy, providing their assistance to those who survived the massacre, now imprisoned in Płaszów camp. Irena and Helena remained in the pharmacy until the end of its operation as Pankiewicz’s private company, i.e. until 1951, when the pharmacy became the property of the state by the decision on nationalisation; Aurelia stayed until 1945. Later, all three worked in different pharmacies in Kraków and outside the city. In 1947 Aurelia and Helena finished their studies, discontinued by the outbreak of war.

While reading the dates of their deaths as well as the death of Tadeusz Pankiewicz, one cannot avoid the impression that they remained a team to the very end. Tadeusz died in 1993, Irena (buried in the Pankiewicz family tomb in the Rakowicki Cemetery) and Helena − in 1994, Aurelia − in 1995.

Elaborated by Kinga Kołodziejska (Editorial team of Małopolska’s Virtual Museums),
Licencja Creative Commons

 This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Poland License.

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The only such pharmacy

An inconspicuous place. From 1967 to 1981, it was simply known as “Bar Nadwiślański“ [“Vistula Bar“]. But even then people arranged to meet to have a beer “at the pharmacy“. Today it is a branch of the Historical Museum with an elegant interior, pharmacy shelves in the Biedermeier style, photographs, maps and documents on the walls. Somewhere there is a deeply hidden rear exit...

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You say that this pharmacy,
The “Eagle Pharmacy“,  once in the ghetto area,
Is unusual and there is
No such other in the world.

Ignacy Nikorowicz, Apteka „Pod Orłem” w getcie krakowskim [The Eagle Pharmacy in the Kraków Ghetto], Kraków 1950.

An inconspicuous place. From 1967 to 1981, it was simply known as “Bar Nadwiślański“ [“Vistula Bar“]. But even then people arranged to meet to have a beer “at the pharmacy“. Today it is a branch of the Historical Museum with an elegant interior, pharmacy shelves in the Biedermeier style, photographs, maps and documents on the walls. Somewhere there is a deeply hidden rear exit. This back door was a rescue exit during the years of the holocaust 1941–1943, even if the escape was only temporary, until the next manhunt. Pankiewicz and his three workers, who returned to the Aryan side every night, tried to help the residents of the ghetto by any means. The pharmacy became a contact point between people of the isolated district and their relatives who were still free but had to hide, as well as members of the underground movement. Information, underground press publications, forged documents and essential medicines were passed there and food was smuggled. Soon, it also provided products which could help people avoid deportation: hair dyes used to make oneself look younger or Luminal used to keep children quiet when they were hiding or were being carried in a piece of luggage. During deportation actions, which were completed at Zgody [Concorde] Square, right in front of the windows of the ghetto, free medicines and dressings were distributed. At that time, many people found a hiding place there, as well.
In less extreme circumstances, the pharmacy was, above all, a place where time seemed to have stopped, especially in the evenings, and the terrible reality remained outside the door for a while. Discussions were conducted here, both political ones and those unrelated to the situation completely. Artists, scientists, and eminent figures who had been forced by their fate to cluster in the streets of the ghetto could meet in the pharmacy to seek any job which could prevent their deportation, but which had absolutely nothing to do with their talent and education. After a day of relentless struggle for basic human needs, they tried to forget for a brief moment about the absurdity and tragedy of the situation in which they had found themselves. In the privacy of Pankiewicz’s duty room, they behaved as before, they decided their fate on their own.
“According to descriptions of most people, the pharmacy was like an embassy – a diplomatic outpost representing a world which was somehow free in this walled and barred city. It became a daily rallying point for many nice and very interesting people. All sorts of people of different ages and status came here regularly; here, from the early hours of the morning, they read German newspapers and the underground press; they commented on the latest news of war, assessed the political situation, and finally discussed everyday troubles and worries until late at night; they carried on discussions, deliberations and predictions“.

T. Pankiewicz, Apteka w getcie krakowskim, Kraków 1992 (I wyd. 1947).

Elaborated by Kinga Kołodziejska (Editorial team of Małopolska’s Virtual Museums),
Licencja Creative Commons

 This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Poland License.

See also:
Photograph “The staff of Tadeusz Pankiewicz’s The Eagle Pharmacy”

Photograph “Tadeusz Pankiewicz in the Company of Four People in the Duty Room”

“Righteous Among the Nations” medal for Tadeusz Pankiewicz

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Why “The Eagle”?

On the building of the branch of the Historical Museum of the City of Kraków, at 18 Bohaterów Getta Square, we cannot find any justification for the name of the Eagle Pharmacy. Neither now nor ever before has any architectural element on the façade of this historic building indicated the sense of such a name.

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Clock topped with an eagle figure in “The Eagle” Pharmacy.
Kraków 1942, Property of the Historical Museum of the City
of Kraków, © all rights reserved, HMK.

On the building of the branch of the Historical Museum of the City of Kraków, at 18 Bohaterów Getta Square, we cannot find any justification for the name of the Eagle Pharmacy. Neither now nor ever before has any architectural element on the façade of this historic building indicated the sense of such a name.
During the German occupation, which made Tadeusz Pankiewicz’s pharmacy famous, just above the entrance there was an inscription: “Apteka J. Pankiewicz” [“Tadeusz Pankiewicz’s pharmacy”] (the pharmacy was founded by Tadeusz’s father — Józef Pankiewicz — and his name appears in the name of the institution on all documents). The addition of “The Eagle” [“Pod Orłem”] was used in prescription forms and formal correspondence. It was not until 1983, when the Museum of National Remembrance was created here, that, on the entrance signboard, the full name of the most famous wartime pharmacy appeared.
Where did the “The Eagle” addition come from? The genesis of the full name, under which this place functions in the general consciousness, can be found inside the institution. The figure of an eagle spreading wings is placed on a pharmacy cupboard, recreated on the model of the one which stood in the main pharmacy hall during the occupation, and positioned in the same way as in the pictures from this period, opposite the front door. It is a faithful copy of the original, which is currently held by the Pharmaceutical Museum of the Jagiellonian University in Kraków. Originally, however, the eagle, which gave the name to the pharmacy, topped a wooden clock, which can be seen in the picture above, dating from 1942.

Elaborated by Kinga Kołodziejska (Editorial team of Małopolska’s Virtual Museums),
Licencja Creative Commons

 This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Poland License.

See:
Photograph “The staff of Tadeusz Pankiewicz’s The Eagle Pharmacy”
Photograph “Tadeusz Pankiewicz in the company of four people in the duty room”
“Righteous Among the Nations” medal for Tadeusz Pankiewicz

Clock topped with an eagle figure

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Photograph “The staff of Tadeusz Pankiewicz’s The Eagle Pharmacy”

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