The Barcikowski Family

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The Story of the Barcikowski Family

Helena Barcikowska and her two sons - 10-year-old Józef and 9-year-old Tadeusz - lived in Wiśniowiec, in the former Wołyńskie Province, north of Zbaraż.

In 1939, two Jews from central Poland also found themselves in Wiśniowiec - brothers Adam and Michał Gajł. They had fled east after the outbreak of the War and, by chance, had met Helena.

When, in the summer of 1941, the Germans also appeared, the Jewish populace was forced to live in the ghetto. Mrs Barcikowska helped the Gajłs, who had also ended up there and at the end of September 1942, she hid Adam in her home. Sick with typhus, Michał remained in the ghetto. He was to join his brother when he had returned to health. That never happened.

In a testimony to the Jewish Historical Institute (ŻIH), Helena described the many difficult situations related to hiding someone, especially when it was a matter of survival. She described one instance:

Once, a policeman came to my apartment. There was no special hiding-place for Adam. He hid wherever he could when he had to - behind the wardrobe or under the bedclothes. One evening, a policeman came into the room in which Adam had hidden behind the wardrobe. The rooom had no lighting, so that the policeman turned on his flashlight. A second before he would have shone a light onto Adam, the globe in the flashlight burned out. The German went into the kitchen in order to change the globe and did not return to the room. (Quotation sourfce: Grynberg Michał ed., Księga sprawiedliwych, Warsaw 1993).

Adam and Helena remained in Wiśniowiec until September 1943, when the German army began its retreat. Fear of the Unrainian nationalists meant that many Poles decided to flee into the General Government. Barcikowska decided to do the same. From the local priest, she obtained a baptism certificate for Adam and, together with him, she headed west. A month later, having travelled through Brody and Lwów, they reached Łańcut where they remained until the end of the War.

Bibliography

  • Grynberg Michał, Księga Sprawiedliwych, Warszawa 1993

    The lexicon includes the stories of Poles honoured with the title of Righteous Among the Nations in the years 1963-1989. The list of entries is preceded by a preface by Icchak Arad and Chaim CheferThe Righteous of the World.