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Behind the Painting: Dr. Halina Wiczyk’s Parents

Barbara and Stan Wiczyk’s lives were an amazing story. As medical students in Warsaw, Poland just prior to and at the start of World War II, Jewish studentts were segregated to a special bench. Barbara and Stan Wiczyk refused to sit on these “Jewish benches”, and in protest they stood throughout their medical studies. Dr. Stan worked with the Polish Army for a few years. When he realized that the Nazis were closing in, he and Dr. Barbara, fled to a small town. There, they were fortunate to meet several wonderful Polish Catholics who helped save them and remarry them with false papers. As part of their disguise Dr. Barbara played the church organ and cleaned houses; A woman physician in those days would most certainly be suspected of being Jewish. Meanwhile, Dr. Stan practiced as a physician in that town, and he also became a resistance fighter although they never knew he was Jewish.

Barbara and Stan Wiczyk

Barbara and Stan Wiczyk

After the war, Dr. Stan was in charge of a hospital in Soviet occupied Poland. Unfortunately, the Communists did not like his politics, and imprisoned him for a year and a half, six months of which were in solitary confinement. Barbara worked tirelessly to gain his freedom, and they were finally allowed to leave Poland in 1958, spending a year and a half in Israel, and then coming to the US in 1960. They both practiced medicine in the US and lived until well into their 90’s. They had two daughters, five grandchildren, and six great grandchildren. With each new birth, Stan Wiczyk always felt he gained his revenge on Hitler.

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Behind the Painting: Jim’s Parents

This painting is a commission piece based on an old family photograph that belongs to a good friend of mine, Jim Rosenthal.  This particular photo has great sentimental value to Jim, and it captures the moment in 1947, when Eric and Ilse Rosenthal visited Vienna, in allied occupied Kahlenberg, on a plaza overlooking the countryside.

Jim's Parents

Jim’s Parents

One of the area’s last surviving World War II veterans, Eric Rosenthal was born in a small rural town in Germany in 1922.

Being Jewish, he escaped from Germany in 1937 to Boston, where he ran track, played in the high school marching band, and became a lifelong Red Sox fan. When his parents and younger brother escaped Germany the following year, the family reunited in New York City.

After attending City College for a semester, Eric was drafted into the US Army, and fought in the infantry against the Germans in North Africa, then liberated Italy. He re-enlisted after the war and met his future wife, Ilse, a war orphan, in Salzburg. They came back to the USA on Thanksgiving day, 1948, where they settled and started a family.