The Light in Hidden Places

Junior Mia Burzminski’s grandmother Stefania Podgorska’s story of saving 13 Jews during the Holocaust is documented in a memoir by Sharon Cameron

Reese+Witherspoon+holds+up+%22The+Light+in+Hidden+Places%2C%22+which+is+now+a+part+of+her+book+collection.+PHOTO+FROM+REESE+WITHERSPOON+FACEBOOK

Reese Witherspoon holds up “The Light in Hidden Places,” which is now a part of her book collection. PHOTO FROM REESE WITHERSPOON FACEBOOK

With 13 Jews living in her attic and four Nazi soldiers sleeping below, Stefania Podgorska represents bravery and strength at such a harrowing time in Poland. “The Light in Hidden Places,” a novel written by Sharon Cameron, is based on the story of Stefania Podgorska, who also happeneds to be the mother of Ed Burzminski and Grandmother of Mia Burzminski, a junior at Redondo Union. Published internationally, “The Light in Hidden Places” is also featured in Reese Witherspoon’s book club collection.

“I think the author Sharon Cameron did such a good job representing my grandma and her personality,” Mia said.

Having never known Podgorska well, the inspiration of her legacy was still passed down to Mia after her passing in 2018.

“I admire her bravery and her ability to do something without thinking about the consequences, or the dangers, but just doing it because it’s the right thing to do,” Mia said. 

Being the same age as Podgorska when she took in 13 Jewish people, Mia can only imagine the intense pressure that her grandmother underwent.

“She was basically my age when she did all of this, and it’s kind of crazy because I don’t think I could have done that at this age. It’s mind blowing to me,” Mia said.

Podgorska has left a legacy, one that cannot be forgotten. Her story has reached many and proved that one person’s righteousness can affect the lives of many to come.

“I think that this story will always be relevant, because everyone can take something away from it in their own way, especially for kids our age. It can help inspire them and teach them to always do the right thing,” Mia said.

While Mia didn’t grow up close with Podgorska, her father, Ed Burzminski, grew up with her as his mother. Burzminski’s father is Max Diamant, who was one of the Jews hiding in Podgorska’s attic. Although Burzminksi grew up with both Podgorska and Diamant as parents, he never truly knew their story until he was older.

“I had always known that they had gone through World War Two in Poland, but I really didn’t know much more than that. It was only when I was a freshman in high school in 1979 that I learned about it,” Burzminski said. 

His mother and father met when Diamant jumped off of a train taking him to a concentration camp, and he showed up at Podgorska’s door begging her to take him in.

“Later in life, she would say he asked to stay one night and ended up staying 57 years,” Burzminski said.

Burzminksi had been in the dark on what his mother and father had endured. After realizing the struggles they had gone through, many other aspects of his home life began to make sense, one of which being his mother having severe post traumatic stress disorder.

“She was reliving stuff and was incredibly depressed. She would often cry for no reason. She would have flashbacks and would see things in her mind. She’d say, ‘I’m in the attic right now,’” Burzminski said.

Having lived through such a dark point in time, Podgorska had to put on a brave face and push through. However, this brave face seemed to stay, even after the war was over.

“My mom was very stern. She was very stiff. She just wasn’t a warm mom. Now looking back, I understand. She had to be a strong personality to survive. But that didn’t make for a very warm mom. She loved me and I loved her, but the PTSD was very challenging,” Burzminski said.

Due to the extreme amount of stress and paranoia that the thought of this time brought her, Podgorska refused to let any reminders of it into her life as Burzminski was growing up.

“We didn’t grow up with Judaism in the house because my mom was terrified of it. Terrified because if you were a Jew, you were killed,” Burzminksi said.

Though Podgorska was deeply affected by her decision to hide 13 Jews in her attic, so were the generations that got to live on because of her.

“There are generations that are here because this young lady stood up,” Burzminski said.

Burzminksi has experienced much gratitude over the years from generations of those whom his mother saved.

When his mother died, Burzminski’s perspective on her changed. Growing up, he saw her as his mother and nothing else, but as she passed he began to realize that she was much more. She was a hero, and it made Burzminski think about how much of an effect she had on those lives.

Podgorska didn’t directly defy the Nazi regime, but did what she could where she could, which ended up being a lot.

“It’s not the story of rescuing Jewish people; it’s a story of helping others that are in dire jeopardy and in life threatening situations,” Burzminski said.

With the release of “The Light in Hidden Places,” Podgorska’s story has been shared with millions all over the globe.

“I hope that her story is an example of compassion, tolerance and courage. An example that one thought, one act, one person can change the world,” Burzminski said.

With 13 Jews living in her attic and four Nazi soldiers sleeping below, Stefania Podgorska represents bravery and strength at such a harrowing time in Poland. “The Light in Hidden Places,” a novel written by Sharon Cameron, is based on the story of Stefania Podgorska, who also happeneds to be the mother of Ed Burzminski and Grandmother of Mia Burzminski, a junior at Redondo Union. Published internationally, “The Light in Hidden Places” is also featured in Reese Witherspoon’s book club collection.

“I think the author Sharon Cameron did such a good job representing my grandma and her personality,” Mia said.

Having never known Podgorska well, the inspiration of her legacy was still passed down to Mia after her passing in 2018.

“I admire her bravery and her ability to do something without thinking about the consequences, or the dangers, but just doing it because it’s the right thing to do,” Mia said. 

Being the same age as Podgorska when she took in 13 Jewish people, Mia can only imagine the intense pressure that her grandmother underwent.

“She was basically my age when she did all of this, and it’s kind of crazy because I don’t think I could have done that at this age. It’s mind blowing to me,” Mia said.

Podgorska has left a legacy, one that cannot be forgotten. Her story has reached many and proved that one person’s righteousness can affect the lives of many to come.

“I think that this story will always be relevant, because everyone can take something away from it in their own way, especially for kids our age. It can help inspire them and teach them to always do the right thing,” Mia said.

While Mia didn’t grow up close with Podgorska, her father, Ed Burzminski, grew up with her as his mother. Burzminski’s father is Max Diamant, who was one of the Jews hiding in Podgorska’s attic. Although Burzminksi grew up with both Podgorska and Diamant as parents, he never truly knew their story until he was older.

“I had always known that they had gone through World War Two in Poland, but I really didn’t know much more than that. It was only when I was a freshman in high school in 1979 that I learned about it,” Burzminski said. 

His mother and father met when Diamant jumped off of a train taking him to a concentration camp, and he showed up at Podgorska’s door begging her to take him in.

“Later in life, she would say he asked to stay one night and ended up staying 57 years,” Burzminski said.

Burzminksi had been in the dark on what his mother and father had endured. After realizing the struggles they had gone through, many other aspects of his home life began to make sense, one of which being his mother having severe post traumatic stress disorder.

“She was reliving stuff and was incredibly depressed. She would often cry for no reason. She would have flashbacks and would see things in her mind. She’d say, ‘I’m in the attic right now,’” Burzminski said.

Having lived through such a dark point in time, Podgorska had to put on a brave face and push through. However, this brave face seemed to stay, even after the war was over.

“My mom was very stern. She was very stiff. She just wasn’t a warm mom. Now looking back, I understand. She had to be a strong personality to survive. But that didn’t make for a very warm mom. She loved me and I loved her, but the PTSD was very challenging,” Burzminski said.

Due to the extreme amount of stress and paranoia that the thought of this time brought her, Podgorska refused to let any reminders of it into her life as Burzminski was growing up.

“We didn’t grow up with Judaism in the house because my mom was terrified of it. Terrified because if you were a Jew, you were killed,” Burzminksi said.

Though Podgorska was deeply affected by her decision to hide 13 Jews in her attic, so were the generations that got to live on because of her.

“There are generations that are here because this young lady stood up,” Burzminski said.

Burzminksi has experienced much gratitude over the years from generations of those whom his mother saved.

When his mother died, Burzminski’s perspective on her changed. Growing up, he saw her as his mother and nothing else, but as she passed he began to realize that she was much more. She was a hero, and it made Burzminski think about how much of an effect she had on those lives.

Podgorska didn’t directly defy the Nazi regime, but did what she could where she could, which ended up being a lot.

“It’s not the story of rescuing Jewish people; it’s a story of helping others that are in dire jeopardy and in life threatening situations,” Burzminski said.

With the release of “The Light in Hidden Places,” Podgorska’s story has been shared with millions all over the globe.

“I hope that her story is an example of compassion, tolerance and courage. An example that one thought, one act, one person can change the world,” Burzminski said.