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The original of the medal granted to Tadeusz Pankiewicz (21.11.1908—5.11.1993) by the Israeli Holocaust Martyrs' and Heroes' Remembrance Authority Yad Vashem on 15 September 1983 is stored in the Częstochowa sanctuary, placed there as an offering by his widowed wife after the death of Pankiewicz.

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The original of the medal granted to Tadeusz Pankiewicz (21.11.1908—5.11.1993) by the Israeli Holocaust Martyrs' and Heroes' Remembrance Authority Yad Vashem on 15 September 1983 is stored in the Częstochowa sanctuary, placed there as an offering by his widowed wife after the death of Pankiewicz. The medal presented here is the second copy (a duplicate). It was given as a donation to the Museum of National Remembrance at the Eagle Pharmacy [Apteka Pod Orłem] on 22 October 2002 by Shevah Weiss, the then ambassador of the State of Israel in Poland and the President of the Yad Vashem Council.
At the top, the image of the globe enfolded with coils of barb wire line, falling down towards two hands untying the line. The image of the globe is surrounded by the Hebrew inscription: אחת כאילו קיים עולם מלא [Whosoever saves a single life, saves an entire universe].
Reverse: high relief. At the top the image of the Hall of Remembrance at Yad Vashem against the hills. Below the olive tree and the two-versed inscription in Hebrew: לאות תודה מאת עם ישראל  [The Nation of Israel in Gratitude]. Under the inscription the individual feature of the medal — the imprinted name and surname of the awarded: Tadeusz Pankiewicz. At the bottom, the inscription in French: Quiconque sauve une vie sauve l'univers tout entier.
On the edge the signatures: BRONZE ארד STATE OF ISRAEL מדינת ישראל 09158 and a stamp in the form of a five-branched candelabrum.

Elaborated by Eugeniusz Duda (Historical Museum of the City of Kraków), © all rights reserved

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Pious Gentiles, or the genesis of the concept of “Righteous Among the Nations”

We know who the “Righteous Among the Nations” are. We know for what kind of behaviour warrants being awarded this title, medal, diploma, the possibility of planting a tree in the Avenue of the Righteous (today there is no room for new trees, so a commemorative plaque is placed in the wall), and since 1995 – the honorary citizenship of the State of Israel. According to data published on the website of the Yad Vashem Institute in January 2013, there were already 24,811 people of non-Jewish origin who were recognized in this way. New ones keep on coming. Many will pass away before anyone discovers or recalls their often daring, “righteous” demeanour in unjust times. But, do we know where this term comes from? Does it reflect the nature of the behaviour at that time well? It is hard to doubt that it was righteous, but don’t you wonder about the origin of this expression? Why does it say “righteous” and not “good,” for example?

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We know who the “Righteous Among the Nations” are. We know for what kind of behaviour warrants being awarded this title, medal, diploma, the possibility of planting a tree in the Avenue of the Righteous (today there is no room for new trees, so a commemorative plaque is placed in the wall), and since 1995 – the honorary citizenship of the State of Israel. According to data published on the website of the Yad Vashem Institute in January 2013, there were already 24,811 people of non-Jewish origin who were recognized in this way. New ones keep on coming. Many will pass away before anyone discovers or recalls their often daring, “righteous” demeanour in unjust times. But, do we know where this term comes from? Does it reflect the nature of the behaviour at that time well? It is hard to doubt that it was righteous, but don’t you wonder about the origin of this expression? Why does it say “righteous” and not “good,” for example?
This term, which literally means “righteous of the world’s nations” (Hebrew: chasidei umot ha-olam), functioned much earlier than the need to use it to refer to those who decided to save Jews from extermination during World War II. The non-Jews who observed the so-called Noachide Laws were named in this way.
Before Moses received the stone tablets with the Ten Commandments and the Torah at Mount Sinai, laws which were given by God to men had already existed. Originally there were six of them and Adam received them when he was still in Paradise. Then, in a way, Noah was reminded of them. It happened after the biblical Deluge. As a sign of the covenant with man, Yahweh gave Noah seven rights, adding to the previous ones (the prohibition of idolatry, the prohibition of murder, the prohibition of theft, the prohibition of promiscuity, the prohibition of blasphemy, the prescription of justice) the prohibition of cruelty to animals. According to Judaism, the Seven Noachide Laws (descendants of Noah) apply to all people on Earth, therefore also non-Jews. Gentiles (non-Jews), by observing them, have a chance to know the true face of God in the Future World (Olam ha-Ba), which will begin after the coming of the Messiah. These are universal ethical principles that a person should comply with regardless of their religion. Actually, orthodox Judaism advises non-Jews to follow these laws from the time of Noah, rather than to convert to Judaism.
How does this notion of the “righteous among the nations”, derived from the biblical Book of Genesis and interpreted by countless scholars, correspond with the title awarded by the Yad Vashem Institute? Reaching to the roots of the term, the behaviour of people who risked their own lives (this is one of the conditions which need to be fulfilled for the title of “Righteous Among the Nations” to be awarded) to rescue Jews during the war, should be understood as opposing the violation of the basic rules governing the world, the breach of the fundamental rights that a man should be guided by. In this sense, those who rescued Jews during the Holocaust were the few “righteous” ones, that is, they adhered to the fundamental rights of humanity, to some extent saving not only Jews but also all of humanity.

Elaborated by Kinga Kołodziejska (Editorial team of Małopolskas Virtual Museums),
Licencja Creative Commons

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

See also: “Righteous Among the Nations” medal for Tadeusz Pankiewicz

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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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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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“Righteous Among the Nations” medal for Tadeusz Pankiewicz

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Medal „Sprawiedliwy wśród Narodów Świata” Tells: Zdzisław Mach
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Medal „Sprawiedliwy wśród Narodów Świata” dla Tadeusza Pankiewicza [audiodeskrypcja] Tells: Fundacja na Rzecz Rozwoju Audiodeskrypcji KATARYNKA
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