Dr Bronislaw Tenenwurzel, his wife, Betty, and their two children, Emanuel and Ruth, were interned in the Miechow ghetto near Krakow. Toward the end of 1942, when the ghetto was about to be liquidated, Dr Tenenwurzel, with the aid of a Polish acquaintance, succeeded in placing his 14-year-old son Emanuel in a monastery in Mogila. To conceal the boy's Jewish identity, it was decided to teach him the tenets of the Christian faith and to train him as a priest; however, when a rumor spread in the monastery that Emanuel was a Jew, he resolved to flee.
The Polish acquaintance who had assisted him in the past came to his aid once again, and gave him into the care of his friend Stefan Jagodzinski, who lived in Stary Korczyn. Emanuel and Stefan assumed false names the former, because he was a Jew, and the latter, because he was wanted by the Gestapo for his activities in the Polish underground, which he pursued even after he had learned that Emanuel was Jewish.
When Emanuel's identity became known to the local inhabitants, the two left their apartment and fled. Stefan decided to continue to protect his Jewish friend and even to share his fate. Rumors that Emanuel was Jewish filtered through to their new place of residence, however, and the day before the Gestapo came to arrest them, they escaped to Krakow. From there, through his contacts with the underground, Stefan succeeded in smuggling Emanuel across to Hungary, where he was liberated in the spring of 1945 by the Soviet army.
Stefan also assisted Emanuel's mother and sister, who had escaped from the Miechow ghetto, and supplied them with "aryan" documents that saved their lives. His efforts to transmit forged documents to Emanuel's father, Bronislaw Tenenwurzel, failed, however, and the latter was shot in the Plaszow camp.
Stefan regarded his efforts to save Jews as part of his duties as a member of the underground quite apart from his personal friendship with Emanuel, which stood fast against the perils of the time. Emanuel, who later became Professor Emanuel Tanay, immigrated with his mother and sister to the United States after the war, and hosted his friend Stefan in his house in 1989.
On July 24, 1986, Yad Vashem decided to award Stefan Jagodzinski the title of Righteous among the Nations.