Maria Eugenia Jasińska (1906-43) was born on 20 November 1906, in Łódź, Poland. She received a degree as an ‘assistant pharmacist’ at the Faculty of Pharmacy at the University of Warsaw.
On 1 September 1939, World War II broke out. Jasińska had been involved in Girl Scouts from a young age, and, through this, she became a member of the resistance and the underground movement in Łódź. She used her work in a pharmacy as a cover for her activities, through which she helped those in need. She sold people medicines that were difficult to obtain, and organised medical care. She would help everyone in danger of death and those who were wanted by the Nazis. At some point, having won the trust of the German manager of the pharmacy, she produced false documents for Polish soldiers, foreign officers, Jews, priests, and escapees in the pharmacy basement. She sent food parcels to concentration camps, forced-labour camps, and the ghetto in Łódź. She was also a liaison smuggling people abroad.
During the ‘Dorsze’ campaign in 1942, the aim of which was to smuggle three British officers who had escaped from a prisoner-of-war camp abroad, Jasińska was arrested in the pharmacy where she worked. In prison she was subjected to prolonged torture, the aim of which was to obtain information about other participants in the operation, and names of Polish soldiers involved. She was accused of helping English officers to illegally cross the border. The investigation lasted over a year. Jasińska did not plead guilty to the charges, skilfully refuting the Gestapo’s arguments. During the investigation, the interrogators did not manage to get any specific information concerning her activity or the remaining prisoners. She revealed nothing.
On 8 March 1943, Jasińska’s case was heard in the district court by two generals and ten German officers. She was sentenced to death by hanging. Only the testimony of Bernard Drozd, a member of an underground organisation from Poznań, most probably obtained through torture, pointed Jasińska out as a resistance liaison. On 20 April 1943, Maria Eugenia Jasińska was executed, probably in the Łódź Jewish cemetery.
Jewish Cemetery, Łódź
On 10 November 1944, Colonel Michał Stempkowski, the commanding officer of the Home Army Łódź District, posthumously awarded Jasińska the Silver Cross of the War Order of Virtuti Militari. In 1945, her family received a diploma from the Marshal of the air force of the British Commonwealth ‘as a token of gratitude and appreciation of the help she provided to sailors, soldiers, and pilots’. On the thirtieth anniversary of the liberation of the country, Jasińska was decorated with the Cross of Valour ‘for her bravery and courage’. Her body has never been found.
For further information on Maria Eugenia Jasińska’s story, please go to page 43 of Smashing Times’ Women War and Peace Research and Resource Book, available to access free of charge here.