Before her arrest, she was in Poznań, then she ended up in hell on earth. Irena Jagodzińska survived the concentration camps in Ravensbrück and Neuengamme. At the end of World War II, she was saved by the Swedish Red Cross. The Arolsen Archives still has Mrs. Irena’s personal belongings and wants to pass them on to her relatives.
Maciej Gaszek, a history enthusiast from Gostyń (Greater Poland Voivodeship) is again looking for relatives of one of the prisoners imprisoned in the German concentration camp during World War II. This time it’s a woman: Irena Jagodzińska. It is known that she was born on June 8, 1916 in Września, her parents were most likely Czesław and Julianna. Before being arrested, her last place of stay was probably in Poznań. As you can see, there are so far more question marks than answers.
She ended up in the Ravensbrück concentration camp
Maciej Gaszek: We know that Irena was sent to the Ravensbrück concentration camp, where she was given the camp number 37495. Then she was transferred from there to one of the sub-camps of KL Neuengamme concentration camp.
Irena Jagodzińska survived the camp hell and was saved by the Swedish Red Cross at the end of World War II.
Maciej: She got to Sweden in transport with the so-called “White Buses”. The information obtained so far shows that on October 20, 1945 she went to Poland.
All hands on deck
Maciej Gaszek has extensive experience in searching for relatives of concentration camp prisoners. An attempt to reach the family of Irena Jagodzińska is another investigation that she undertakes. This time the search is conducted together with Roman Wójcicki from Witków.
Roman Wójcicki: I am a retired soldier and passionate about history. I specialize in the martyrdom of Greater Poland Insurgents, I also research their fate during World War II. I have already put the genealogy of my family members in order, why shouldn’t I now help others who are also looking for their roots and identity? I have already combed many archives, it would be a pity not to share this knowledge. Therefore, when Maciej appeared, I decided to get involved in the search that he is leading.
Maciej: Unfortunately, we have not yet found any documents that would indicate where Irena Jagodzińska has resettled in Poland. We only know that she was born in Września.
Roman: We are trying to find the birth certificate of Irena Jagodzińska. That would allow us to confirm whether her parents were in fact Czesław and Julianna.
Maciej: It is quite difficult so far. We don’t have many documents, but we’re not giving up. We launch our contacts, check parish archives. Father Robert Szymura from the parish in Wilkowyja helps us a lot. We are constantly looking for a starting point. Therefore, if someone has information about Irena Jagodzińska, her post-war fate, or maybe she knows her family, please contact us by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or at email@example.com.
The Arolsen Archives is the International Center for the Study of Nazi Persecution in Germany. It is an institution that has been taking care of the largest for several decades document archive on various groups of victims of the Nazi regime. Their collections contain information on the fate of 17.5 million people.
Currently, the facility still has over two thousand of the described envelopes in which the prisoners’ personal belongings are located. 76 years have passed since the end of the war. From year to year, entrusting souvenirs to relatives becomes more difficult.
Małgorzata Przybyła from the Arolsen Archives in Bad Arolsen, Germany: We have fewer and fewer reports from families who want to know what happened to their relatives. Therefore, in 2016, we concluded that we needed to reverse our tide a bit. Not only to wait for and respond to reports, but also to try to find families on your own. It was not easy. In many cases, even basic information such as date and place of birth, parents’ names are missing to establish relatives. There are also mistakes in many names, which makes the task even more difficult. That is why we are willing to cooperate with historians, associations or local history enthusiasts. Such people, due to their experience and knowledge of a specific area, often find it easier to find a starting point.
Since 2016, the Arolsen Archives has reached 550 families, including 110 from Poland.
Main photo source: Arolsen Archives