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"Helping him to survive was the most important thing" - the Story of Aleksander and Sabina Smolak

During the German occupation, Aleksander and Sabina Smolak helped their Jewish friend, Mosze Bajtel, who had escaped from a transport heading for the Treblinka extermination camp. For two years, he hid in the Smolak couple's attic.


Prior to World War II, the tailor Mosze Bajtel lived in the small village of Rudka, not far from Otwock. In the autumn of 1940, he was forced to move into the Otwock ghetto where, in August 1942, liquidation operations began. At that time, almost 7,000 Jews were assembled at the railway station and were then transported to the extermination camp in Treblinka.

Mosze Bajtel found himself in that transport. Fortunately, he managed to escape from that train. He then ran towards the home, in Wólka Mlądzka, where Aleksander and Sabina Smolak, together with their young daughter Krystyną, had lived since 1936. Mosze knew them from before the War, when they had been neighbours in Rudka.

The Hiding-Place in the Smolak Family Attic

The couple did not refuse to help him, even though they lived in a dangerous part of the town - just off the main Warsaw-Lublin road which was frequently used by the Germans. Sometimes, they would enter the Smolak house and Aleksander's blacksmith workshop. 

During the day, Mosze hid in the attic and only in the evenings would he come down into his hosts' home. The Smolak couple cared for him, providing him with food and clothing. A friend of Aleksander's and Sabina's, Zygmunt Szymański, a forge employee, knew about Mosze being hidden.

Bajtel remained with the Smolak family until the arrival of the Red Army.

The Post-War Fate of the Rescued and the Rescuers

Following the end of the War, Bajtel settled in Otwock and then in Łódż. In 1957, with his family, he left for Israel and, two years later, he moved to Germany.

After his departure, contact between him and his rescuers was broken.

Many years after the War, the Smolaks' daughter, Krystyna, wrote, "My parents often mentioned Mr Bajtel - they were curious as to what was happening with him. The lack of news about him brought the comment from them that 'the most important thing is that we helped him to survive”. 

It was only in 2000, thanks to an article, published by Krystyna, in the Israeli, Polish-language newspaper "Nowiny-Kurier”, that she managed to establish contact with Mosze's son, Laibo Bajtel.

Thanks to his and Krystyna's efforts, on 12th October 2004, Aleksander and Sabina Smolak were posthumously honoured by the Yad Vashem Institute in Jerusalem with the title of Righteous Among the Nation.

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