Olga Aleksandra Yosefina “Olenka” <I>Urbanowicz</I> Dowlut

Olga Aleksandra Yosefina “Olenka” Urbanowicz Dowlut

Pinsk, Bresckaja, Belarus
Death 20 Feb 1972 (aged 56)
South Bend, St. Joseph County, Indiana, USA
Burial South Bend, St. Joseph County, Indiana, USA
Plot Perpetual Care, Section 7
Memorial ID 33314683 View Source
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Wife, Mother, Survivor of Nazi slave camp

Olga was born in Pinsk when it was a city in Poland.

She was the youngest of nine children born to Joseph ("Osip" or "Iosif") Matveev URBANOWICZ and his wife, Julia (Yulianiya) MIRONOWICZ. Olga's father died before her 18th birthday. Olga knew only three siblings; her other siblings died before her birth. The siblings she knew were Nadia, Stanislaw, and Maria.

When Olga was 24, Poland was under attack. The Russians invaded from the east and took over her hometown of Pinsk, and the Germans invaded Poland from the west.

In March 1941, when she was 25, she married a man who had been part of the Polish Army that was at the western front of Poland when the Germans invaded on September 1, 1939. She risked punishment by the Soviet Communists by insisting on a marriage ceremony before a Catholic priest.

Just three months after she married, her hometown came under the control of the German Nazi Army.

When she was 26, she birthed her first child, Victor.

When she was 28, she, her husband, and their son were taken prisoner by the Nazis and ordered to get inside a cattle car on a train. After that day, she never saw or heard of her mother or her siblings

She, her husband, and their baby were transported to Dachau, Germany, packed onto a cattle car so tightly that there was no room to sit. They were held in Dachau briefly before being transported to Augsburg, Germany, where Olga and her husband were held as forced labor, and where their young son Victor was killed by injection by a Nazi doctor.

She was held in the forced labor camp until the camp was freed in June 1945. She was 30 and six months pregnant with her second child. After the camp was freed by the U.S. Second Army, it became a refuge camp.

Because the part of Poland that had been Olga's home was given to the Russians as a "reward" at the Yalta Conference, Olga and her husband had no home to return to. If they had returned, the Soviets would have declared them traitors for having "allowed" themselves to be captured, and Olga and her husband would have been executed. She remained at the refuge camp until late 1949; she was 34. By then, she had borne two more children.

With the help of Catholic Charities and a Catholic physician who had some land that needed to be farmed, Olga and her family arrived at Ellis Island as Displaced Persons. She could not speak a word of English, and she had only an 8th grade education.

A fourth child was born in America (in rural Wisconsin), when Olga was almost 35. After a stint working on a farm in Wisconsin, the family moved to Chicago where they shared a small apartment with another family of displaced persons. In 1953, her family moved to South Bend where she and her husband purchased a tiny house where they raised their three sons. In a time before "women's liberation," Olga worked out of necessity. She cleaned offices in the evenings, and later worked at Notre Dame in the North Dining Hall. Before ill health forced her retirement, she was promoted to being the waitress for the coaches' table and was proud to have been the one selected to regularly serve coach Ara Parseghian.

From 1953 until her death in 1972, Olga's next-door neighbor was Mary Catherine Niemier (Mrs. John Marcinkowski). Mrs. Marcinkowski was almost 20 years older than Olga, and Olga's children called Mrs. Marcinkowski "Busia," a Polish-American term for "grandma." Mrs. Marcinkowski's brother was Fr. Bernard Niemier, a parish priest at St. Casimir's Catholic Church from 1946 until 1964 and the parish pastor from 1957 thru 1964. Fr. Niemier would have been there for Olga's sons' First Communions and Confirmations. Fr. Niemier had been born at home in 1910, in that house next door to what was Olga's home from 1953 until 1972. St. Casimir's was three blocks down the street from Olga's home, and it is where her children went to school through 8th grade, where they were a Mass every school day and on Sunday.

Olga lived out her life in Polish communities where almost everyone spoke Polish, where she could go to church and the local grocer and always find people who spoke Polish. She was a devout Catholic and a good Christian woman. As the mother of three boys in a poor Polish neighborhood, one of her boys would sometimes come to her to tell of one homeless man or another who lived near the railroad tracks, saying that the man was hungry. Olga would make a sandwich, put some tea in an old Coke bottle, and tell her son to take the food to the man.


Ojcze nasz, którys jest w Niebie,
swiec sie Imie Twoje,
przyjdz Królestwo Twoje,
badz wola Twoja,
jako w Niebie, tak i na ziemi.
Chleba naszego powszedniego daj nam dzisiaj I odpusc nam nasze winy,
jako i my odpuszczamy naszym winowajcom,
i nie wódz nas na pokuszenie,
ale nas zbaw ode zlego.


Thank you for having faith and for believing, Olga.

Family Members


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