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Monday, May 4, 2015

A hero among us

In March my daughter and I went to DC for a well deserved spring break vacation.  Mother nature had other ideas...

We left Charlotte around 10 pm and made it to the NC/VA border until sleep took over, so we stopped for the night, when the rain came.  We found a nice quiet hotel, and fell asleep quickly, only to awake at 7 am to sleet and ice covering the parking lot, road, and vehicle.  Not to be deterred, we trudged onward towards DC.

I white knuckled it the whole trip, and we wound up stopping every hour, because of the tense driving conditions.   At one point I was ready to turn around but we really wanted to go and enjoy the week. 

A trip that shouldn't have taken more than 4 hours from where we started at 7 am, was still in progress  at 2 pm, and we were only in Alexandria.  We found the first hotel we could,
Comfort Inn Alexandria West - Landmark on Duke Street.  This is where we would call home for a week.  Luckily they had free breakfast (at IHOP no less) every day, and FREE shuttle to the metro every half hour.

That evening we went into DC to wander and to our surprise, (Ok so I dont watch much news or read the papers) we find a controversial VIP is arriving and all the streets are blocked off.  We asked if we could watch, as there was no one really interested in the chaos happening around us.  So we saw the VIP arrive, and got many pictures.  Cold and wet, we return to the warmth of our hotel.

On day 2 we go to the Holocaust museum, and it was overwhelming to a very young 18 year old (my daughter) who had really only heard of WWII and Hitler and the horrors of the concentration camp.  We were looking at the glass wall of people who had died in the concentration camps and I found her crying, so I comforted her.  It was a lot to take in.  The historical event became real for her at that moment.

Further on, there was a wall of people who had been honored for their assistance in helping the Jewish people escape Germany,  and she began looking at the names.  On the back side of that list of names, we found one that caused us to pause.....It was the name of a woman Katarzyna Filipek; the  
same surname of her Grandfather!!  More tears, but good tears, but it again gave a surreal reality to the muesum.

Here is a post about this very brave woman from

23. FILIPEK, Katarzyna, 47, farmer, from Tokarnia, Near Nowy Targ, Cracow

murdered in January 1944 by Germans following a denunciation; since June 1943 she sheltered 6 Jews: Samuel Szternlicht, his 2 daughters, son-in-law and 2 grandchildren, who died with her. She was posthumously awarded the medal "Righteous Among the Nations"

This lit the genealogy fire for my daughter again, and she has been going non stop to find out how she is related to this HERO.

 After we came home, we discovered many names of other Filipeks who unfortunately perished in the Concentration camps.  Our hearts break when we think of them, but we are proud to know there was a HERO who helped those who asked for her help.

We are planning another trip to DC and plan on spending most of our time in the National Archives, to gather info on  those relatives who were taken too soon.

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