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Did You Know: The Polish Catholic midwife of Auschwitz

Did You Know? Polish Catholic midwife Stanisława Leszczyńska delivered 3,000 babies in Auschwitz from 1940-1945.

Stanisława Leszczyńska was born in Lodz, Poland, living in relative peace until the Nazi of Poland. Prior to the occupation she studied midwifery, married and started a family.

Under Nazi occupation a ghetto was established in Lodz, the Jewish population being forced to live in squalid conditions. Stanisława and her family decided to aid the Jewish population living in the Lodz ghetto by smuggling in food and false Aryan papers.

In 1943, the Leszczyńska family were discovered, Stanisława being sent to Auschwitz along with her daughter. In Auschwitz, Stanisława managed to reveal that she was a midwife by smuggling in her occupation papers in a tube of toothpaste, and she was subsequently assigned to the maternity ward.

Stanisława Leszczyńska

Many pregnant women who arrived at Auschwitz were sent straight to their death and those women who became pregnant in the camp were often quickly executed and or given forced abortions. For women who were admitted to the maternity ward, they gave birth in squalid conditions and generally children were quickly drowned. A small selection of children born were taken out of the camp and assigned to Aryan families as part of the Lebensborn program.

Stanisława refused to take part in the killing of children despite threats from those around her working in the ward. Stanisława went forward caring for the mothers before, during, and after their labour with compassion. Of the 3000 deliveries performed by Stanisława, all of the mothers and children survived the birth. Stanisława created a sense of safety in the ward, and the camp more broadly; the prisoners called her  “mommy” and “the angel of goodness.” Liberated at Auschwitz, Stanisława returned to midwifery, after the war.