The Zablocki Family

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"Facing Death Every Day" - the Story of the Zabłocki Family

Franciszek and Karolina Zabłocki, together with their four children – Michał, Stanisław, Jadwiga and Wiktoria – lived in the town of Dolina (Stryj District in the former Stanisławowskie Province). Franciszek did business with Jewish merchants, selling them fox, hare and marten skins. The oldest child, Michał, recalls, "I'd go with my father and mother to buy from Rindel, Henefeld, Fiszer and others. They were always kind and polite. No one ever asked my father if he had money or not". At school, Michał had Jewish classmates and teachers.

After the Germans entered Dolina in July 1941, Franciszek became involved in the underground with the Armia Krajowa (Home Army). In August 1941, in Dolina, local Jews, as well as Hungarian Jews, were executed and buried in a mass graves. The surviving Jewish residents of Dolina endured hunger. At night, they would come to the Zabłocki home. "My mother cooked meals for them to take back to the ghetto", recalls Michał. "I, myself, at night, would take food to that camp. I knew all the entries to the houses very well. I brought food to my mathematics and history teachers (Maks, Mojżesz) Zwerling, Papper and others".

The Zabłocki family also took food into the forest - to the Jews and the partisans. In the summer of 1942, following flooding rains, supplying food became particularly difficult. "You should have seen how these people faced death every day and how they were conscious of their fate. It's a story of high drama", says Michał. "Together with them, we suffered from hunger and we fought against the occupier to defeat Hitler, one of the biggest murderers in history".

In order to obtain money to provide such a large amount of food, they sold clothes. Michał accompanied his father on trips to a mill in Wełdzirz, near Wygoda, and then to Podole. There, they exchanged clothing for grain which was then ground with a quern (a stone hand mill).

In July 1942, around 3,000 Jews from nearby towns were brought to Dolina. They were executed and buried in a mass grave at the nearby Jewish cemetery. Those who managed to escape found shelter in the Zabłocki home, where they were fed, spent the night and then guided into the forest.

Legends surround the activities of the partisans in the forests in the vicinity of Dolina. According to the post-War account of Baruch (Bernard) Widman (1913-2002) who, with his wife Sara Rothfeld (1920-2006), escaped from the labour camp in Bolechów to Stanisław Babij's group of partisans. Stories such as this meant that "the peasants wouldn't dare attack Jews, even those walking alone. They thought that they were partisans. After all, in other districts, Ukrainian peasants robbed and killed Jews".

In November 1943, the German army launched a manhunt looking for partisan units, which were surrounded on the Stanisławów, Stryj and Wygoda sides. Jews, caught during the manhunt, were executed near the synagogue in Dolina, while others were hanged. Together with the remaining partisans, Michał Zabłocki went into hiding in the nearby forests.

In the summer of 1943, as the result of being denounced, the Germans searched the Zabłocki home. They were looking for hidden Jews, but found arms and ammunition. Franciszek was arrested and imprisoned in Stanisławów, and then in the Majdanek concentration camp. From there, he was taken to the camp in Mauthausen, where he died on 9th December 1944. In 1983, Michał wrote, "My father lived with Jews. He helped them during the hard times of the Holocaust and, together with them, he died". After the War, Michał, together with his mother and siblings, settled in Gdańsk. After the Red Army entered, he was conscripted into the Polish Army and served until 1950. He later worked, in Gdańsk, as an engineer.

In 1986, the Yad Vashem Institute decided to honour Franciszek and Karolina Zabłocki, together with their son Michał Zabłocki, with the title of Righteous Among the Nations.