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Kansas City Missouri Women's Heritage Trail
Item 16 of 26
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Established shortly after World War II by Holocaust survivor Bronia Roslawowski and her husband Mendel, M&M Bakery has been a cornerstone of this Kansas City community for nearly eight decades. In 1984 Roslawowski sold the bakery to Dorothy Williams, a former employee, and her husband Pat. The Williams family continues to operate the business in the Jewish deli tradition with many of Roslawowski's original recipes. During her life, Bronia Roslawowski was a beloved figure in the community known for generosity and courage, as demonstrated by community members who continue to tell stories of how she consistently helped people in need while standing up to those who underestimated her, including a would-be robber. Eager to educate the public on the dangers of fascism and anti-Semitism, Roslawowski worked with the Midwest Center for Holocaust Education and spoke on behalf of other Holocaust survivors until she passed away in 2010.

Bronia Roslawowski established the bakery shortly after arriving in the United States following World War II

Black, Sleeve, Standing, Black-and-white

Born to store owners Bluma and Tzvi Eliezer Kibel in 1926, Bronia Kibel (Roslawowski) was raised in Turek, Poland. She and her siblings attended public school during the day and Beit Yakov, or religious school, at night which allowed her to learn both Polish and Hebrew. When the Germans invaded Turek in September 1939, Jewish children were no longer permitted to attend school which ended her formal education to the 7th grade although her mother was able to hire a teacher to come to their house to educate their children which led to her learning the German language in addition to continuing her education. 

As the occupation by the Germans worsened, Bronia’s family lost their business and their home. Like other German families in Turek, here family was forcibly relocated to Breite Gasse, the ghetto in Turek. In 1940, Nazi soldiers moved the family to Heidemuhle, about eight kilometers from Turek, where they lived in shacks and grew their own food for survival. 

Soon after the family’s second relocation, the Nazis began a selection process from each of the families in Heidemuhle. They selected one family member from each family to be taken to area labor camps. Bronia’s older sister was selected in this process, but Bronia Kibel intervened and requested to take her sister’s place because she recognized that she had a better chance of surviving. The selfless act saved her sister only temporarily as Bronia’s sister perished along with six million others as the people enduring life in ghettos and labor camps were sent to extermination camps in the final years of the war. 

After volunteering in her sister's place, Bronia Kibel joined 250 other Polish Jews at Inowroclaw and then endured a forced march to Grodno, Poland. Bronia was in Grodno until 1943, spending each day walking to Kruswica to scrape scum off of the canals and returning to the barn where she and others slept. In 1943, Bronia was one of the workers selected to go onto the trains to Auschwitz, a journey of three days and nights in a cattle car. When Bronia Kibel arrived at Auschwitz, she was herded into a large room with other women and tattooed with an identification number. She also had her head shaved and her clothing was replaced by a uniform infested with lice. She was assigned to Block 13 where she and four to six people shared a bunk. Sickness was rampant, and together with the daily threat of physical abuse and forced labor, Jews at Auschwitz in 1943 saw firsthand the camps' transition to becoming the largest of the Nazi extermination camps. In 1943, she served in a group of three women who planted trees in order to build forests. By 1944, Bronia Kibel was very ill and weighed only sixty-five pounds.

By this time, when a prisoner at Auschwitz became ill, they were usually taken to the gas chambers or the crematorium. Recognizing the hopelessness of her situation while she was being transported to the crematorium on a truck, Bronia jumped and was able to escape back to one of the labor sections where she was able to live until she and others were moved to work in a factory as Soviet Army was nearing. The liberation of Auschwitz saved many lives, but by that time, Bronia Kibel was living and working in a factory. She and 12,000 women were taken on a death march that lasted days, ending in Salzwedel. It was here that Bronia was liberated by American troops in mid-April of 1945.  

After liberation, Bronia Kibel decided she wanted to leave with the Americans, as the Holocaust had killed all of her family and she had nothing left in Europe. Before immigrating, she went to Braunschweig and learned how to type while at a Displaced Persons (DP) Camp. She also met her future husband, Mendel Roslawowski, and the couple married in 1947. After their marriage, the couple had a choice of where to live in the U.S. Bronia and Mendel chose Kansas City because, as she said: 

“President Truman is from Missouri. Kansas City is the heart of America. Let’s go to Kansas City – Kansas City here I come!”4

Once in Kansas City, Bronia opened M&M Bakery at 1721 E 31st Street, Kansas City, Missouri. She was known as a kind-hearted woman who remembered every customer who came into her establishment. She even held off a potential armed robber at her store with baked goods, proclaiming that if Hitler couldn’t kill her, neither could the robber. Her fighting spirit followed her until the end of her life. Bronia passed away on July 14, 2010, but her memory lives on, especially in the M&M Bakery, which is still open for business today. 

  1. World War II: They died that others might live, Shifting the Balance. May 28th 2012. Accessed December 6th 2021.
  2. Bronia Roslawowski, Midwest Center for Holocaust Education. Accessed December 6th 2021.
  3. Bronia Roslawoski Obituary, Louis Memorial Chapel. Accessed December 6th 2021.
  4. "Bronia Roslawowski Testimony," MCHE Kansas City. Video, 33:17.
  5. "The Story Behind M&M's Bakery." Flatland. July 1, 2019. Video, 2:56.
  6. Martin Cizmar, "Behold, Kanas Cty's Best Pork-Free Sandwhich, Kansas City Magazine August 2, 2019
Image Sources(Click to expand)

Midwest Center for Holocaust Education