Maria Dobrucka, nicknamed “Meva” (“seagull” in Polish), was born in 1927 and grew up in Czortkow, a small Polish town in present-day Ukraine. Czortkow had a large Jewish population, and by March of 1942 the Nazis had established a ghetto where all the Jewish inhabitants---approximately 6,800 people---had to relocate to. And within six months, the Nazis had begun shipping people from the ghetto to the concentration camp at Belzec.
It was around this time that the Hausers, a Jewish family, got message to their friends the Dobruckas, begging them to help save their two year-old daughter Inka Hauser.
Because of her size, it was decided that 15 year-old Meva would sneak into the ghetto through a tiny window in the wall, get Inka, and sneak back out. The plan seemed to have little chance of succeeding, and if Meva had been caught she surely would have been executed on the spot. Yet into the ghetto she crept, at dusk on that August night in 1942 with a Star of David on her arm in case Nazi soldiers spotted her. Meva met the Hausers, took Inka in her arms, and climbed back out and into the night undetected.
For the next three years, as the Nazi atrocities grew, and roughly half of the Jews in the Czortkow ghetto were killed, Meva and the Dobrucka family raised Inka. It would have been more than heroic enough for teen-aged Meva to have the courage to sneak in to the ghetto, get Inka, and sneak back out without the guards seeing her. But the teen-ager also had the compassion to continue comforting and caring for Inka as a sister for the duration of the war.
In September of 1983 Maria Dobrucka-Mikusz, along with her parents Aniela Dobrucka and Andrzej Dobrucki, was recognized as Righteous Among the Nations by Israel for her heroism.
Miraculously, the Hausers survived, and after the war came knocking on the Dobrucka’s door. Inka did not recognize her parents at first because she had left them when she was so young.
Now living in California with her own children, Inka Hauser-Huber has remained in close contact with the woman who had literally carried her through the valley of the shadow of death so many years before.
Maria “Meva” Dobrucka-Mikusz is a hero you should know. And I‘m Dr. Ross Porter.