The Jagiełło and Rejczak Families

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“Little Janka was the one who brought us food to the forest the most often” – the story of the Jagiełło and Rejczak families

Krzcięcin and Wilcza Wola are two villages situated next to each other to the west from Radom, between Przysucha and Szydłowiec. During the Nazi occupation, two Polish families lived in those villages. Their bravery made it possible for two young Jewish orphans, Bronisław and Janek Cyngiser, to avoid death.

Jan and Janina Jagiełło lived in Krzcięcin. They were the first to meet Bronisław and Janek, who were then around 10 years old, in the village. The boys had run away first from the ghetto in Szydłowiec, which was liquidated in August 1942, and then from the ghetto in Przysucha, which was liquidated in October of that same year. Their father had likely been contact with another farmer in the village but he was killed by a policeman which meant one chance of survival less for his sons. The Jagiełło family then came to their aid, looking after them and providing them with clothes and food. This continued until Jan Jagiełło, the head of the family, was arrested for helping Jews and sent to Auschwitz where he died. Bronisław and Janek had to look for shelter elsewhere.

They hid in the forest. Were they to be left to fend for themselves there, they would not have been able to survive. They were very lucky because they were noticed by Walenty and Antonina Rejczak who lived in a neighbouring village: Wilcze Doły. They brought them food and other items essential for survival to their hiding place. Bronisław Cyngiser recalled: “little Janka was the one who brought us food to the forest the most often and she would also warn us if there was any danger, risking her own life, the life of her parents, and the lives of all members of her family”. When this was necessary, particularly in winter, the boys would sleep at the house of the Rejczaks. After some time, the family took Bronisław in to their house for good and Janek was sent to a farmstead in Krzcięcin, to the farmer with whom his father had originally been in contact.

Both the Rejczaks and the Jagiełłos helped the boys selflessly. The two families supported the boys financially, particularly after their father’s death. They decided to help them out of religious and humanitarian considerations.

The Yad Vashem Institute awarded Jan and Janina Jagiełło and Walenty and Antonina Rejczak the Righteous Among the Nations title in 1996.

Bibliography

  • Gutman Israel red. nacz., Księga Sprawiedliwych wśród Narodów Świata, Ratujący Żydów podczas Holocaustu, Kraków 2009
  • Archiwum Yad Vashem, M.31.2/7005