Deech re­claims her fam­ily sil­ver

The Jewish Chronicle - - News - BY AN­SHEL PF­EF­FER

SIX­TEEN KNIVES and forks, the only re­main­ing prop­erty of a pros­per­ous Jewish fam­ily that lived un­til the Holo­caust in a small town in south­ern Poland, have been re­turned to Baroness Deech.

A 101-year-old Pol­ish painter, who had re­ceived the sil­ver cut­lery from Baroness Deech’s aunt, con­tacted her fol­low­ing a re­port in the JC in June re­veal­ing that she plans to sue the Pol­ish gov­ern­ment for lost fam­ily as­sets.

Be­fore the war, Eu­ge­niusz Waniek and his fam­ily were close friends of the Frankel fam­ily — Baroness Deech’s maiden lin­eage — in the small town of Ustrzyki Dolne.

Mr Waniek’s mother tu­tored the Frankel chil­dren and in 1941, when the Ger­man army en­tered the town, one of the Frankel daugh­ters gave him 16 sil­ver knives and forks, hastily wrapped in a table­cloth, to guard while the Ger­mans were round­ing up the Jews.

Mr Waniek buried the cut­lery and af­ter the war hid it in his flat in Krakow. He was un­able to lo­cate sur­viv­ing mem­bers of the Frankel fam­ily and had no idea where any of them went af­ter the war.

“He is a highly in­tel­li­gent man and a very good artist with a re­bel­lious streak and he mar­vel­lously held on to what was given to him,” said Baroness Deech.

Four months ago, the JC re­ported the for­mer BBC gov­er­nor’s in­ten­tion to start le­gal pro­ceed­ings against the Pol­ish gov­ern­ment to ob­tain com­pen­sa­tion for her fam­ily’s prop­erty, in­clud­ing the house of her grand­fa­ther, mayor of Ustrzyki Dolne, to­gether with a derelict oil re­fin­ery be­long­ing to him.

The story was reprinted in the Pol­ish me­dia and brought to the at­ten­tion of Mr Waniek, now 101 and still liv­ing in Krakow.

He con­tacted Baroness Deech through his­to­rian Pro­fes­sor Nor­man Davies and two weeks ago they met at his flat in Krakow, where, in an emo­tional en­counter, Mr Waniek re­turned the cut­lery af­ter guard­ing it for 67 years.

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