The Niezgoda Family

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"It was an Awakening of Humanity" - the Story of the Niezgoda Family

Józef Niezgoda and his wife Aniela lived in the village of Kajetanówka (District of Lublin, Municipality of Strzyżewice), where they ran a farm. Respected by their Polish neighbours, Jewish farmers, the Zandberg family, lived in the nearby village of Bystrzyca Stara.

After finishing school, the Zandbergs' teenage son Lejzor took jobs in the nearby towns - first in Lublin and then in 1937-1939 in a mill owned by A Erlich in Strzyżewice. Following the outbreak of the War, he went to work at the Niezgoda farm.  In the first years of German occupation, Lejzor's family continued to live in Bystrzyca. It was not until 11th October 1942 that the Zandbergs were deported. At the time, Lejzor, living in Kajetanówka, avoided the tragic fate of his family. However, from that moment, he had to go into hiding.

Thanks to help from Aniela and Józef Niezgoda, as well as from other Polish families, Józef and Maria Dziedzic and Paweła and Helena Woś, Lejzor hid in the village and its surroundings until 22nd July 1944. The Niezgoda couple not only provided him with shelter and food, but also clothing and his hygeine needs. Aniela also brought him newspapers from the town and tobacco. The young boy stayed with individual families for a few weeks. But none of them knew about the others. Lejzor would disappear and, on his return, he would say nothing about who had helped hide him.

In his memoirs, he stressed that he looked for help with Polish acquaintances "in Strzyżewice, Bystrzyca Stara and Nowa, as well as in surrounding places where I knew almost everyone, especially the young people. The Poles who helped me to survive were well-known to me and easy for me to contact. In autumn, winter and early spring, I hid in attics and sheds. In other times of the year, especially during summer, I hid in the crop fields, amongst bushes and in other remote places”.

Lejzor also emphasises that everyone treated him like one of their family. "I especially want to stress that no one wanted money for saving me. Helping me was a simple awakening of humanity. [...] Relations bewteen me and those who helped me were very good - like family. The best evidence of that was that they not only gave me food, but  they also gave me clean underwear and and brought me warm water for washing, etc.” He was also invited into their homes on holidays.

After the War ended, Lejzor changed his name to " Leon Adamski" and settled in Gdańsk. He maintained close contact with those who had helped him.

In 1992, the Yad Vashem Institute honoured Józef and Aniela Niezgoda with the title of Righteous Among the Nations.

Bibliography

  • Vad Vashem, The story of the Niezgoda family