Righteous Medal Award Ceremony in Siemiatycze

Mateusz Szczepaniak, 16 November 2016
A ceremony, posthumously honouring the Kryński family from the village of Morze with the title of the Righteous Among the Nations, was held on 24th May 2016 in Siemiatycze. During the Holocaust, Konstanty and Bronisława Kryński, together with their children Krystyna and Henryk, hid the Jewish Lisogurski family from nearby Siemiatycze.

"They risked their lives, and the lives of their family, in order to rescue us", said Chana Broder-Lisogurski, who came to Poland with her entire family. "What could be more beautiful than such an act? They were truly righteous people. They did what they considered to be the right thing".

Amongst those who took part in the ceremony, held in the building which once housed the synagogue, were Israeli Ambassador Anna Azari, Polish Chief Rabbi Michael Schudrich and representatives of the local council. The ceremony was followed by the laying of wreaths and reciting of prayers at the Jewish cemetery at the monument in memory of Holocaust victims. The certificate and medal were accepted by the Righteous' daughter and granddaughter Zdzisława Chlebowska, while Chana Broder-Lisogurski spoke in honour of the heroes, telling the story of her rescue.

In November 1942, together with her parents Rachel and Abraham Lisogurski and her grandmother Rywka Kalles, she escaped from the Siemiatycze ghetto, just prior to the deportation of the Jews. For many days, the family wandered around the local villages seeking shelter. Firstly, they hid on a farm in Aleksandrów, where they remained until May 1943. It was then that they were taken in by the Kryński family in the village of Morze. They were supposed to have stayed there for only two weeks, but the Lisogurski family remained there longer.

"Mr Kryński was an optimist. He read the newspapers and told my parents that the Soviet army was nearing and that the War would end", recalled Chana. "Mrs Kryński confided in my mother that she had admitted to the priest that they were hiding Jews. The priest told her that 'this was an act of kindness as these are innocent people".

At first, the Lisogurski family were hidden in the attic of the barn but, with the approach of winter, Abraham and Henryk constructed an underground bunker. This new hiding place was located under the barn. It was entered from a nearby wooden shed.

"At the time, I was four and a half years old. I could barely stand upright in that bunker. The grown-ups could only sit on the ground. There was so little room that we couldn't even lie down. We had to sleep sitting up, leaning against the walls. At night we could go out in order to attend to our needs and to stretch our legs".

In July 1944, the families were liberated. Several months later, the Lisogurski family emigrated to Canada, but for many years kept in correspondence contact with the Kryńskis. Contact ceased when it began causing issues for Henryk. In 1997, Chana visited Poland and sought out the descendants of her benefactors.