Helena Merenholc (15.03.1907–19.01.1997)

children’s psychologist, pedagogue, radio director. During WWII, a courier of Jewish National Committee and a collaborator of  “Żegota”

Born in 1907 in Warsaw to a religious Jewish family. The father owned a brick factory in Warsaw’s Wola district, the mother took care of the house and children. The family spoke mostly Polish; Helena never learned Yiddish, something she would later come to regret.

Helena had five siblings: three brothers and two sisters. The older brother Henryk died in 1918 of heart disease. One of the sisters, Anna, had moved to the United States before the war. The younger brother Zenon had made his way to the East right after the outbreak of WWII; he was killed by the Germans there.

Helena first went to a Polish school and then started to attend a modern co-educational Jewish school. She studied psychology at Warsaw University, from which she graduated in 1926. She was an intern in the Psychiatric Department at the Jewish Hospital in Czyste. In 1934, she started working in the Pedological Clinic at the Jewish Children’s Friends Society, where she stayed until its liquidation at the beginning of the war.

After the closed “Jewish quarter” in Warsaw was established, Helena, her mother (the father had died before the war) and sister had to leave their apartment on Plac Żelaznej Bramy. They had to move to the Warsaw ghetto, to Helena’s brother Eugeniusz, his wife and their little son at 28, Sienna street. Helena was working in “Centos” (Central Society for the Care of Orphans) where she took care of children and participated in creating so-called “children’s corners”. After the action of liquidation of the Warsaw ghetto had started in July 1942, she started working in a ‘brush shop’ (‘szop szczotkarzy’) as the accountant’s assistant.

In March 1943, she managed to get to the “Aryan side” by way of the city sewers along with her mother and sister. She settled there and started using fake documents under the name of Stanisława Królikowska. She was engaged in helping the Jews who were hiding on the “Aryan side”, looking for fake documents and hideouts for them, transferring financial help and visiting those who couldn’t leave their apartment because of their “bad looks”. Thanks to a contact in a Polish Post Office, she intercepted the denunciations of Jews hiding in Warsaw and warned them about the danger. The room she used to rent at 6 Sierpnia st. (today’s Nowowiejska) was a meeting place of the Jewish National Committee.

After the war, Helena worked with the Central Committee of Polish Jews in Poland. She later got a job in Polish Radio where she worked as a director of the Children and Youth Section and a director of radio programs till 1981.Helena Merenholc died on January 19, 1997 in Warsaw. She was buried at the Jewish Cemetery on Okopowa street.