The Pharmacist of the Krakow Ghetto

The Pharmacist of the Krakow Ghetto

Credit:(Photo: Yad Vashem)

Tadeusz Pankiewicz

Life: November 21, 1908 – November 5, 1993

Why you should know him: Tadeusz Pankiewicz was a Polish pharmacist who, during the Holocaust, did much to help and save the Jews in the Krakow Ghetto.

Tadeusz Pankiewicz was born in raised in Krakow, Poland. His father Jozef ran Krakow’s Under the Eagle Pharmacy until 1933, when Tadeusz took over, serving the city’s Gentiles and Jews alike.

When the Nazis invaded Poland, however, the district in which Tadeusz’s pharmacy sat was closed off as part of the ghetto which would hold the city’s Jews. The ghetto’s three other Gentile-owned pharmacies took the Nazis’ offer of relocating outside of the restricted area. Tadeusz, however, chose to stay. He even chose to remain living at the pharmacy, though his workers were given permits to come and go from the ghetto.

Life in the ghetto was hard, but Tadeusz tried to ease the pain for Krakow’s Jews. He provided medications and pharmaceutical products that saved their lives – and often gave these necessities away free of charge. Besides medicine, other things given to the ghetto’s Jews proved to be lifesavers. Hair dyes were used for disguises, while tranquilizers were given to frightened children to keep them quiet (and alive) while hiding during Gestapo raids.

The pharmacy also acted as a headquarters for the ghetto’s underground. Tadeusz and his workers risked their own lives to smuggle food and information, as well as to hide Jews who would otherwise be deported to Nazi death camps. The pharmacy now stands as the Museum of National Remembrance. It was featured in the film Schindler’s List, and the film’s director gave money so that the building could be preserved.

Tadeusz Pankiewicz was honored as Righteous Among the Nations by Yad Vashem in 1983 – ten years before his passing – and was also able to attend the inauguration of his lifesaving pharmacy as a landmark that will teach generations to come of the Holocaust – both the evils perpetrated during this dark time, as well as the heroes who stood up against it.

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