Stanisława Leszczyńska 1896–1974




Ordinary and extraordinary midwife from Auschwitz


Photo from the Archdiocesan Archive in Łódź

Stanisława Leszczyńska was born on May 8, 1896 in Bałuty, in one of the poorest districts of Łódź. Her father Jan Zambrzycki did not have a regular job, he worked as a carpenter occasionally and her mother worked at the Poznański’s textile factory. In 1908, the family went to a relative in Brazil to earn a crust. In Rio de Janeiro, Stanisława attended school with Portuguese and German, as teaching languages. However, after two years, the family decided to return to their homeland. Stanisława continued her education in junior high school. During World War I she worked in the Committee for Helping the Poor. In 1916 she married a printer Bronisław Leszczyński. She gave birth to four children, three sons: Bronisław, Stanisław and Henryk, and a daughter Sylwia. As a married woman, she started studying at the Obstetric School in Warsaw, which she graduated from with honors in 1922. After that she returned to Łódź and she took a job as a midwife, and kept at it for almost 40 years. During World War II, the Leszczyński family operated in the underground, engaging in helping Jews. She provided them with food and false documents that her husband secretly produced in the printing house. In 1943, as a result of a denunciation, the family was arrested. Stanisława Leszczyńska and her daughter were transported to Auschwitz-Birkenau. She received camp number 41335 and her daughter Sylwia 41336. During the search she managed to keep the certificate entitling her to practice the profession of midwife, thanks to which she was appointed a camp midwife. In a wooden barrack, there were over a thousand women at the same time, among them pregnant women. With her help for over two years, 3,000 children were born, whom she was ordered to murder, under death penalty. Many times during each day and night she ’’gave her life’’ for each child being born. The order was clear: ’’kill every baby’’. She had to get used to the death threat that constantly accompanied her. Her love for children and their mothers was stronger than fear. The women gave birth on a brick-built furnace in the shape of a channel extending along the barrack. They lay on a worn out, lice-ridden blanket. A piece of sheet or white cloth that Stanisława tried to get was a luxury. She had no aseptics, dressings or medicines. Although she delivered births in such extremely inhuman conditions, there was no puerperal infection, complications, perineal tears or fatalities among mothers and newborns. This was considered a miracle. She worked and prayed. In the most difficult cases she asked the Mother of God: ’’Please put on at least one slipper and come and help me’’. She thanked God for the successful delivery. She baptized all the children. She received a strict order not to cut off the umbilical cord of Jewish children after birth but she would never comply with it.
’’No, never. You can’t kill children!’’ - she told the camp doctor Mengele, known for his cruelty.
Stanisława Leszczyńska was always calm, patient and controlled. She often sang to women giving birth. She shared everything she had.
’’An angel of kindness came to us in this hell’’ said one of the prisoners.
After the liberation, she came back to Łódź with her daughter. And all the sons returned from the war exile. Unfortunately, her husband was killed in the Warsaw Uprising.
In the memoir on his mother, doctor Bronisław Leszczyński, wrote: ’’For her, the child was the world’s greatest miracle, and the act of giving birth the greatest biological wonder of nature’’.
’’She loved her professional work and was delighted with every newborn baby’’ – wrote her daughter Sylwia.
Stanisława Leszczyńska described her activity in the ’’Midwife Report from Auschwitz’’, which was published in Medical Review (Przegląd Lekarski) in 1965. In 1970, the Grand Theater in Warsaw staged ’’Oświęcim Oratory’’ inspired by her memories. On this occasion, Stanisława Leszczyńska met with mothers and children whom she saved in Auschwitz.
Stanisława Leszczyńska died on March 11, 1974. In 1992, the beatification process began. On the hundredth anniversary of her birth, mortal remains of Stanisława Leszczyńska were transferred from the cemetery to the church of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
On May 14, 2016 our Polish Nurses Association section (PNA Warsaw) visited the figure of the Servant of God Stanisława Leszczyńska in the Church of St. Anna in Wilanów (district of Warsaw).

The figure of Stanisława Leszczyńska the Servant of God in the Church of St. Anna in Wilanów. Photo by G. Gierczak

Article from Bulletin No. 3. PNA Warsaw of the Central Clinical Hospital at Banacha 1a street, Warsaw.

Prepared by Grażyna Gierczak based on:
Archival materials and Leszczyńska Stanisława, the ’’Midwife Report from Auschwitz’’ Medical Review (Raport położnej z Oświęcimia, „Przegląd Lekarski – Oświęcim”), nr 1 (1965). CAPP
Koper B., ’’Stanisława Leszczyńska – our patroness’’. In the shadow of nurse’s cap No. 5. Magazine of Lower Silesian District Chamber of Nurses and Midwives (Stanisława Leszczyńska-nasza patronka. W cieniu czepka nr 5, 2013 magazyn Dolnośląskiej Izby Pielęgniarek i Położnych)




On March 3, 2020, mass was concelebrated in the church of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Łódź, presided over by the Archbishop of Łódź Grzegorz Ryś, for the beatification of the Servant of God Stanisława Leszczyńska. It was attended by the representatives of the medical community: mostly midwives and nurses.


Painting of the Servant of God Stanisława Leszczyńska

Archbishop Grzegorz Ryś during the homily. The participants included representatives of the District Chambers of Nurses and Midwives and the Catholic Association of Nurses and Midwives bearing the organization’s banners

The interior of the church of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary


During the solemn procession, the participants came to the grave of the Servant of God Stanisława Leszczyńska in the church crypt and decorated it with flowers.


Entrance to the crypt of the Servant of God Stanisława Leszczyńska

Tomb of the Servant of God Stanisława Leszczyńska

Tombstone of the Servant of God Stanisława Leszczyńska

Painting of Stanisława Leszczyńska, the Midwife of Auschwitz. The crypt in the church of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Łódź

Stained glass window depicting Stanisława Leszczyńska, the Midwife of Auschwitz. The church of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Łódź


After the mass, Archbishop Grzegorz Ryś invited the participants to a conference “Stanisława Leszczyńska (1896-1974) - midwife and mother, prisoner of the Auschwitz death camp”, under the patronage of dr. Piotr Cywiński, director of the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum.


Archbishop Grzegorz Ryś. Opening of the conference. Higher Theological Seminary in Łódź

Representatives of the District Chamber of Nurses and Midwives in Łódź present the painting of Stanisława Leszczyńska to Archbishop Ryś.

The conference. Higher Theological Seminary in Łódź. 03/03/2020

The conference. Higher Theological Seminary in Łódź. 03/03/2020. 03.03.2020

Photo by  Grażyna Gierczak


Polish version.