November 21, 2018

Magdalena Kasprzycki, World War II spy, dies at 94

Magdalena Kasprzycki, who as a teenager in Poland spied on the Nazis on behalf of the Polish Underground during World War II, died Nov. 22. She was 94.

Kasprzycki was born in Lwow, Poland, to Ludwig and Helena Krzemuski. She, her older brother, Adam, and parents lived a comfortable life in Europe until the war began. She was a teenager while living in Nazi-occupied Warsaw during the early 1940s. At 17, Kasprzycki was recruited by her brother to become a spy for the Polish Underground Resistance Army. During World War II, the family lived in fear as Poles and because her father was Catholic and her mother was Jewish.

Kasprzycki was the subject of “Magda,” a 60-minute documentary by Los Angeles-based filmmaker Jason Rem, released in 2015. In the film, Kasprzycki says, “War is a cruel, horrible imposition for people who want to live in peace. But you have to explain it to somebody, which is really difficult, because you can’t really describe it. You have to live it, experience it on your nerves, on your life. It’s like a very long nightmare that comes back over and over again.”

Regarding her remarkable work against enormous odds as a spy against the Nazis, she adds, “I don’t know how I did it, but I just did it.”

She survived the war and went on to marry Matthew Kasprzycki, a major in the United States Army who was overseeing an area of Berlin where she lived. Matthew brought her and her family to the United States, where they all eventually settled in Los Angeles.

Kasprzycki is considered by many within the international Jewish community as a true hero: a woman who depicted the best of human courage, strength and love of family, in a life lived against a backdrop of the inexplicable horrors of World War II and the Holocaust. 

Says filmmaker Rem, “She was an incredible, heroic, courageous and beautiful woman, who inspired all who learned of her story.”

Kasprzycki is survived by her great-grandnephew, Paul Krzemuski of Los Angeles.