Warsaw couple pleads guilty to destroying Holocaust relic

WARSAW (JTA) — A Warsaw couple pleaded guilty to destroying a hideout used in the Polish city by Jews during World War II.

The couple, identified in an indictment filed late last month as Elzbieta and Dariusz P., could be sentenced to up to 10 years in prison following their guilty plea in Warsaw District Court to charges of destruction of property of special cultural importance.

The apartment they rented in the building at 4 Kopernik St. is believed to be the only such relic in Warsaw. The hideout, through a cabinet in the apartment, was entered into the city’s register of relics and monuments.

The couple had rented the apartment in 2002, according to the indictment. A  few years later they decided to build a kitchenette and dismantled the cabinet, throwing it in the trash.

The cabinet was built by Leon Jolson, an engineer who during the Holocaust lived in the Warsaw Ghetto. He left daily, however, to work on the Aryan side of the city, at which time he built the hideout, which measured about 21.5 square feet.

Jolson hid there with his mother and wife, Anna, after they escaped from the ghetto.

Leon and Anna Jolson survived the war and settled in the United States. Years later they mounted a plaque on the building which read,  “In this house there is a specially built masked hideout which during the occupation hid Polish Jews hunted by the Nazis — mother, son and daughter-in-law. Survivors commemorate the place for the next generations. Leon and Anna Joselzon aka Jolson.”

The case came to light in 2012, when the local relics conservator sent his staff to inspect the site to monitor compliance with its special status.

 

 

 

 

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