Saving 42 Jews of the Żmudź area

Mr Marcin Andrusieczko came to our office with a history of his uncle and his grandfather. They helped a group of 42 Jews to survive the war in bunkers in „Uroczysko Haliczańskie“ forests near Żmudź and Pobołowice. Read carefully these post-war memoirs of Mr Zbysław Raczkiewicz, son of Wojciech. Please, contact us if there’s anything you could add to this story.

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Declaration

I declare that during the German occupation, since 1939 until August 1944 I was with my parents in Pobołowice, Żmódź municipality, Chełm Lubelski area. In 1942 I joined the Home Army (Armia Krajowa — AK), code name „Orzeł“ [Eagle], where my father [Wojciech] had served since October 1942 in conspiracy the Union of Armed Struggle and then in AK again serving as an officer (the lieutenant) Quartermaster in the Second Chełm District of AK. Since 1942 I have worked in the State Forest District in Pobołowice as trainee. During my work in the forest in “Uroczysko Haliczańskie” at the end of 1942 I came across a camouflaged bunker in which 42 Jews were hidden.

Those Jews were not afraid of me because some of them knew my father, who had been supplying them with food some time before. Small groups of Jews from the bunker used to come to our house to get food. Our household was close to the forest where the Jews were hiding. If you ask me for their names I remember Wolf, Cukier, Sztajnwurcel from Żmudź and the owner of the mill in Kamień [Bitman and Sonberg; in 2014 90-year-old Zbysław recognized additional names in the 1938 business directory of Żmudź and Pobołowice and said that families with these names were most likely also hiding in the bunker. These were: Tittanbrun St, Bitman S, Sonnberg S, Szajn Brothers]. This group of Jews received help also from the forest ranger Władysław Charliński. He was directly supervising the region called “Uroczysko Haliczany.” Apart from food I was receiving medication and sanitaries to give them. Jews were armed. If everybody from the 42 survived – I do not know because some of them left the bunker earlier and one thing I know for sure: on the 20th of July 1944 my family left our house because of the front line. We went to the forest and I led them to the place, where the Jews were hiding. On the 21st of July myself together with friends from the Home Army: Adam Łukaszczuk, Wicek Śliwiński in response to the oral request of the Jews we guided 30 Jews to the Soviet troops. Crossing from one to the other forest was difficult and risky, because it was necessary to overpass a 150 meter-long stretch of exposed land between forests. During that crossing a group of Germans noticed us and began to shoot with machine guns. Yet, bending and dodging we happily made it to the Soviet troops. The troops accepted the whole group of Jews with, and we went further East to our Army’s unit.


You may wonder why I was silent regarding this matter for so long. It was due to a number of reasons. Immediately after the invasion of the Soviet army my father was (in October 1944) arrested by the UB (Department of Security) and N.K.W.D. (People’s Commissariat for Internal Affairs) and deported to Siberia. I studied in Łódź and in the 50s I was arrested by the UB and I was sentenced in Warsaw by the Military Court to nine years in prison as a political prisoner. I was in prison for five years, after which I was released on probation.

For many years I was still persecuted by the UB (summoned for interrogation). In 1972, together with the whole family we went to work in Algeria and then to Morocco. We came back in 1992. I found papers of my dead parents, including the manuscript of his father (diary) in which he describes the case to help Jews during the Nazi occupation.

 

By writing this statement I want to give proof that we Poles, especially soldiers of the Home Army have been risking their own lives, by saving, helping Jews in need during the Nazi occupation.

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