“Before Our Lives End...” Parczew, 1942

A story about remembrance. This album is dedicated to the memory of the Sochaczewski family. About Czesław, Jadwiga, about grandmother Ester, Katarzyna, Maria, Stella and Regina.

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While working on archivization of our correspondences, we came across a letter from Mr Andrzej, who asked us for one thing: ‘I am already an old, childless man, I would very much like my Jewish family to have a slight trace left, and I have no one to give these small souvenirs to.’ Andrzej’s dad was a Catholic, his mother a Jewish woman who converted to Catholicism when the couple got married in 1930 in Kraków. They had two children. Czesława’s mother, Estera, accepted her daughter’s decision to change her faith and they stayed close. Her father Isaac was a rabbi and most likely never accepted the fact that his daughter left Judaism, and they had no contact with each other.

When the war began, Andrzej’s dad was in the army, his mother had to run away with the children. In 1940, after Józef (Andrzej’s father) escaped from Soviet captivity, the family found each other and decided to wait out the war in Sokołów Małopolski. They tried to save their mother’s family, but in 1942 Czesława’s sisters found themselves in the Parczew ghetto, from where her Sister Maria wrote the last letter just before the deportation to the death camp. We do not give all the data and details that are in the letter, because we do not know if Mr Andrzej would have wished it, but we want to fulfil his will and publish photos of Sochaczewski family, for the world, for the future and memory about them. May their memory be a blessing!

Beloved Cesia!
Before our lives end, I hurry to write a couple of words to you. We are being forced to obey and are going on the last transport to the execution. Stella, Regina and our poor father, after whom we looked until the last moment, ended up dead. Toluś, smart and handsome, has long been an orphan. I wouldn’t have written to you, but I didn’t want you to write to some strangers who read other people’s letters. Until the last moment, we were hoping that we might stay alive, but there will be no exceptions. We all look like corpses. I wish we would have gotten the papers last summer, but it’s too late now. Maybe if I would have told you something you might have helped us, but neither of us wanted to put you at risk. Even though we suffer so much now, we’d rather be alive. What can you do, such is our fate. Maybe in the afterlife will be better, our life had been an endless misery anyway. Please, don’t worry about us, don’t be afraid, because it’s too late. Both of us was always honest with you. I know that if you had wanted, you might have saved us. Maybe you would have been better off as well. I would pay anything for us to stay alive. We leave behind a lot of belongings. We would readily leave it for you with someone, but nobody wants to accept. I conclude this letter, may you all be healthy and happy.

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