Righteous Among the Nations – A Monthly Story
Tadeusz Pankiewicz (1908-1993) was the son of a pharmacist who owned a pharmacy located within the boundary of the Krakow ghetto during the Holocaust. He helped the Jews in the ghetto and gave them medication, food and money and forged documents for them. He studied pharmacology at the Jagiellonian University and in 1933, he took over his father’s pharmacy that was situated on the Zgody Square in Krakow’s Podgorze neighborhood which, later on, became the Umschlagplatz of the ghetto. His customers were both Poles and Jews.
In March 1941, during the Nazi occupation, the Podgórze district became a ghetto where Krakow’s Jews were concentrated. Pankiewicz and other Polish business owners were ordered to move to the Arian side of the city where they would receive substitute business premises. He was the only one out of 4 pharmacies that refused to move. Pankiewicz succeeded in persuading the Germans to let him stay and he kept living in his pharmacy and running it for a very long period. Together with his assistants he helped the Jews in the ghetto stay out of the Nazis’ claws until the liquidation of the ghetto. From his pharmacy which had become a hiding place and thus saved a great many Jewish lives, Pankiewicz would observe the crimes perpetrated by the Nazis and document them in his diary which would become a book published in 1947. The book was called “The Pharmacy in the Krakow Ghetto”.
During the horrible period of Nazi occupation Pankiewicz’s pharmacy became a food distribution point and also a place where one could obtain cosmetic substances such as beard and hair-painting materials to enable Jews to look younger and to be moved to the right side during Nazi selections.
Pankiewicz was also one of the witnesses in Claude Lanzmann’s movie “Shoah”.
On February 10, 1983, Yad Vashem awarded the title of Righteous Among the Nations to Tadeusz Pankiewicz and in April 1983 a museum was erected on the grounds of his pharmacy.
After the war, Pankiewicz kept working as a pharmacist and he died in Krakow at the age of 85.