From Avraham to Achmet

The Fellowship  |  March 29, 2017

Young girl looking sadly off into the distance.
From Avraham to Achmet

Stanislaw and Regina Swida

Stanislaw (1883-1944)
Antonia (1892-1979)

Many Gentiles saved Jews during the Holocaust, often resorting to inventive and ingenious methods. Stanislaw and Regina Swida saved a young Jewish boy, Avraham Horowitz, by disguising the child as a Muslim.

Avraham was born in 1940 to Jewish parents, Tatiana and Benjamin Horowitz. He began life in the harsh environment of the Warsaw Ghetto. Three years later, the Nazis began to liquidate the ghetto, putting the Horowitz family at risk. The family was forced to split up. Using forged identity papers, Tatiana went to live with a Polish family on the city’s outskirts. Benjamin went into hiding in the city. Three-year-old Avraham bounced from one hiding place to another before settling in with the Swida family, who welcomed him into their home along with their other children.

There was one problem, however. Being Jewish, young Avraham was circumcised, making his identity somewhat obvious. To hide the boy, Stanislaw Swida came up with a plan – he would pass Avraham off as the son of Muslim Tatar friends.

Stanislaw approached the head of Warsaw’s Tatar community with a story: the boy’s father – a friend of the Swida’s – had been murdered and his mother had disappeared, the child being left on the streets. The Tatar leader accepted the story and was ready to certify the boy as part of the Muslim community. However, the child first had to receive a permit from the Gestapo. Stanislaw went to the Gestapo and stated that the child was not Jewish, and in return, Avraham was certified as “Achmet Krackiewicz,” a member of the Tater community.

Avraham spent the next year with the Swida family, who he called “Uncle Stanislaw” and “Aunt Regina.” Regina acted like a mother to the boy, whose own mother would sneak in to see her son, who no longer knew who she was.

After the Polish uprising against the Nazis in August 1944, Stanislaw and his son Wlodzimierz went missing – the younger Swida was killed in a concentration camp and his father’s fate was never found out. Despite this, Regina continued to shelter Avraham, taking him with her in an escape from the city’s ruins.

After the liberation of Poland, Tatiana returned for her son, who did not learn his mother’s true identity until after the war.

Avraham and Tatiana remained in touch with Regina, and made aliyah (immigrated) to Israel in 1950.

Regina passed away in 1979, and she and her husband were named Righteous Among the Nations in 2012 at a ceremony in Jerusalem attended by the boy whose life they saved, Dr. Avraham Horowitz.