«Wartime Rescue of Jews by the Polish Catholic Clergy The Testimony of Survivors Edited and compiled by Mark Paul Polish Educational Foundation in ...»
Rev. Jan Dziuban, pastor of Barysz near Buczacz, Tarnopol voivodship, assisted the family of Dr. Max Anderman to survive the war. (Gutman and Bender, The Encyclopedia of the Righteous Among the Nations, volume 4: Poland, Part 2, pp.537–38.) 161 Dr. Max Anderman was of one of the few Jewish physicians in Buczacz, Eastern Galicia, who was allowed to practice outside the ghetto after the German occupation began. This came about because of the intercession of Dr. Anderman’s Ukrainian friend, the district physician, Dr. Banach. In the course of 1942, as the danger facing the Jews in this city mounted, Banach arranged a special work permit for Anderman in Barysz, a large village near Buczacz, where he served a rural population of Ukrainians and Poles. Dr. Anderman, who moved to the village with his family, established friendly relations with priests in the area—especially the Polish Catholic priest Dziuban. When the Jewish community in Buczacz was liquidated. Dr. Anderman realized that his family would face the same bitter fare and, on Father Dziuban’s recommendation, turned to Franciszek Najbar and asked him to arrange shelter for himself, his wife, and their four-yearold son. After Franciszek consulted with his wife, Maria, the Najbars young peasants who owned a modest farmstead, agreed to accommodate the Jewish refugees in their loft.
Jews from Buczacz also took refuge in the village of Puźniki where the local pastor, Rev. Kazimierz Słupski, sheltered Rozalia Bauer, a Jewish pharmacist from Buczacz, in his presbytery for more than three years without any remuneration. For part of this period the Germans installed an officers’ school on the ground floor of the presbytery, thus making the rescue more precarious. Sisters of the Family of Mary also resided at the presbytery, and whenever the danger heightened, Mrs. Bauer donned a nun’s frock. Rev. Słupski also provided a hiding place for Adolf Korngut, a high school teacher from Buczacz. Rev. Słupski approached trusted parishioners to take Jews into their care. Dr. Seifert from Buczacz, who was taken in by the Kret family in the village of Gotyszyn, also frequented the presbytery. Jews living in the forest would often come to the presbytery where they were fed by the nuns and given food to take with them. (Bartoszewski and Lewin, Righteous Among Nations, pp.337–39.) Confirmation of the rescue activities and attitude of Rev. Słupski is found in the memoir of Renata Tannenzapf (later Renate Krakauer), a young girl from Stanisławów whose parents entrusted her into the care of a villager in Puźniki, which was populated by Poles. (William Tannenzapf and Renate Krakauer, Memories from the Abyss / But I Had a Happy Childhood (Toronto: Azrieli Foundation, 2009), pp.113–16.) Once outside the ghetto walls, my mother ripped off her blue-and-white Star of David arm band and ran down the cobblestone street [of Stanisławów], fully expecting a bullet in the back. By this time I was well trained to be quiet. … We reached the safety of the apartment of a former neighbour, who pulled us in quickly, no doubt fearing for her life. That night I was nestled in between my mother and Pani (Mrs.) Poliszowa on her bed.
My happiness didn’t last long. The next day, my mother handed me over to Józia, who had been a maid in her brother’s house, to take me to her widowed sister in Pozniki [Puźniki], a neighbouring village. Marynia and her two young sons were my new family for the next eighteen months. With my blond hair, blue eyes and button nose, I fit in easily as the baby sister. Suffering from malnutrition and one childhood illness after another, it took a while for me to become a healthy normal toddler.
Marynia treated me like her baby girl and I even began to call her Mama. I can imagine that her two boys, aged six and three, must have felt some resentment at this little Jewish impostor suddenly parachuted into their poor little home. But in the same way that my own preschool daughter used to trail her adored older brother, I can see myself following the boys around, perhaps to their annoyance, on my newly sturdy legs. They knew I was Jewish. …. the boys soon began to show their affection for me. The first and last serving in the communal bowl on the table was always reserved for me whether it was potatoes, pierogi or cabbage soup. At night they squeezed over on the bed they shared to make room for their new “little sister,” Tusia. I’m sure that it made the little boys feel important to be my protectors. They could have but didn’t betray me to the Nazis and Ukrainians who came on regular inspections of the village. And on Sundays, I can see us all trooping off to church as a family, the cute little blond girl holding the hand of each brother. The priest knew I was Jewish, and people found out after the war that he had been hiding a Jewish woman.
162 Unbeknownst to me, both my parents had escaped to the village before the ghetto was liquidated, one hidden in Marynia’s hayloft and the other in the attic of her neighbour on the other side of the creek. From their vantage points, they were able to see me through the cracks, running around barefoot all summer ….
There was great animosity between the Polish and Ukrainian people in this part of Poland. The Ukrainians had nationalist aspirations and had allied themselves with the Germans in the war. This left the Poles to face two enemies—the Nazis and their Ukrainian neighbours. One day Ukrainians from a neighbouring village attacked Pozniki, which was a Polish village, by torching the straw roofs. All the homes went up in flames except Marynia’s.61 How was this one cottage spared? The peasants must have muttered and whispered that it was some kind of Jewish black magic.
The village priest knew that his people were frightened, uneducated and superstitious. … But the priest also believed that they were God-fearing people, so on the following Sunday he preached about the protective hand of the Lord, who shields the innocent from danger. Anyone who betrayed an innocent was courting the wrath of God. The villagers understood that the veiled reference to the Jewish child hidden among them and they kept silent.
Rev. Stanisław Mazak of the parish of Szczurowice near Radziechów, in Tarnopol voivodship, helped Jews and encouraged his parishioners to extend aid to them. He was instrumental in saving the lives of several Jews. Rev.
Mazak was recognized by Yad Vashem as a Righteous Gentile. (Gutman and Bender, The Encyclopedia of the Righteous Among the Nations, volume 4: Poland, Part 1, p.500.) Stanislaw [Stanisław] Mazak, a Roman Catholic priest, was the spirit behind the campaign to save a group of Jews from the village of Szczurowice in Radziechow [Radziechów] county, Tarnopol district. In his sermons in the local church, Father Mazak would call upon the faithful to take part in saving the persecuted, trying to convince them to do what they could, even at the cost of self-sacrifice. And indeed, the much-admired Father Mazak’s flock responded to his appeal and extended its assistance to the Jews hiding in the area. Under Father Mazak’s influence, even farmers who did not personally hide Jews in their homes volunteered to help them, providing food and keeping their hiding places secret from their Ukrainian nationalist neighbors. Mazak himself visited the hiding places, cheering up the Jewish fugitives and providing them with medicine as needed, all without asking for or receiving anything in return. In one case, the priest provided Scharlota Weksler and her son with Aryan papers, accompanied them to Cracow, and after learning that the mother had been sent to forced labor to Germany moved her son to a Catholic children’s home in Warsaw, where his life was saved. In early 1944, Ukrainian collaborators learned of Father Mazak’s efforts to save Jews and sentenced him to death. After he was warned of the danger to his life, the priest managed to flee from his village. He hid out in the nearby city of Lopatyn [Łopatyn] and after the war moved to Upper Silesia.
Michał Czuba, a seminarian from the town of Radziechów, Tarnopol voidvodship, helped the Wajsman family to survive the war. He was awarded by Yad Vashem. (Gutman and Bender, The Encyclopedia of the Righteous Among the Nations, volume 4: Poland, Part 1, p.161.) In 1941, the Wajsmans, their two sons, and their daughters, Helen and Ziona, escaped from Lwow [Lwów] to the town of Radziechow [Radziechów] in the Tarnopol district, where they were interned in the local ghetto. At her parents’ initiative, 13-year-old Ziona escaped from the ghetto and found shelter with peasants in the surrounding villages. A few months later, however, the Germans raided the area and Ziona had to be moved to another village. Although Ziona had Aryan papers, the local peasants were afraid to hide her and took her back to the deserted ghetto. Not knowing what to do Ziona made her way to the home of Polish acquaintances, where to her enormous surprise she came across her mother and sister, who were hiding there too. Although the hiding place was designed for one person only, room was made for Ziona, and later also for the girls’ father. Although the Polish landlord feared for his life, Michal [Michał] Czuba, the landlady’s brother and a graduate of a seminary, persuaded him to let them stay. Czuba himself took responsibility for looking after the Jewish fugitives and saw to their needs during the ten months of their stay. Although the Wajsmans paid his family for their upkeep, Czuba himself refused to take a cent. With the advance of the Soviets in 1944, all Poles were ordered to leave the area, but Czuba, disregarding the danger, stayed behind in order to look after the Wajsmans. When the Germans converted the house into a military post office, the Jews found a new hiding place in the deserted ghetto, where they stayed with Czuba until the Red Army liberated the town. After the war the Wajsmans emigrated.
61 More than 100 Polish villagers were murdered in the assault by the Ukrainian Insurgent Army on the village of Puźniki on February 13,
1944. See Henryk Komański and Szczepan Siekierka, Ludobójstwo dokonane przez nacjonalistów ukraińskich na Polakach w województwie tarnopolskim 1939–1946 (Wrocław: Nortom, 2004), pp.170–71.
Lotka [Sternberg] was passing as a Christian in Lvov [Lwów]. The Polish priest who had given religious instruction to the Catholic children in the Polish elementary school before the war, and who had since then sheltered several Jews, had taught Lotka Catholic prayers and liturgy every night for four weeks. He had gotten her “good” Aryan papers—those of somebody who had died—and had made the arrangements for a middleman to take her to live with a Polish couple as their niece in return for money sent with him by Lotka’s parents.
Eugenia (Gina) Hochberg of Brody was able to survive thanks to the help of a number of people, including a Polish railway worker and a Catholic priest, who came to her assistance and nursed her back to health after she jumped from a deportation train headed to the Majdanek concentration camp in May 1943. She managed to return to Brody where she lived in hiding until the liberation. (Bolesław Kulczycki, “Genocide in Brody,” http://www.shtetlinks.jewishgen.org/Brody/boleslaw_kulczycki_memoir.htm) Crowds of Jews, surrounded by armed guards with dogs, were led out of the ghetto towards the railroad station some two kilometers from the center of town. During this forced march, those who could not keep up with the pace were beaten and bitten by the dogs. Those unable to go on, were shot on the spot. Squeezed into packed freight cars which were directed towards Belzec [Bełżec] and, later on, towards Majdanek near the city of Lublin was the human cargo destined for destruction. In one of them was the family Hochberg. They made a desperate decision to push their daughter Ginia through the narrow bars of the tiny window, imploring her to save herself, crying out: “You have got to survive!” The German guard shot after and hit the escaping girl. She lost consciousness, but fortunately it was a flesh wound. After a while she came to in a pool of blood. Two villagers were in the process of stripping her clothes, thinking she was dead.
Realizing she was alive did not prevent them from taking all her clothes. They were going to hand her over to the Police when a Polish railroad employee intervened, stating that the area was under the jurisdiction of the railway department and that he would take custody of the girl. He escorted the wounded, chilled girl into a booth, where he dressed her wound, gave her some food and clothing and released her. Ginia made her way to a church in a nearby village, where a compassionate priest helped the unfortunate girl. He gave her shelter until she recovered and provided her with a false birth and baptism certificate.