Banas Franciszek

enlarge map

Story of Rescue - Banas Franciszek

Franciszek Banaś served in the police force from 1924. Before the war, he had contacts with Jews in his official capacity only, and often repeated the negative stereotypes in statements about them.

In 1941, Franciszek Banaś’s superiors, who, like himself, were active in the anti-Nazi underground, ordered him to a post at the gate of the Kraków ghetto. From that time on, it was his responsibility to report crimes committed against Jews to the Polish underground. He helped to smuggle food into the ghetto and passed on correspondence between the ghetto and the “Aryan side”. He also facilitated the escapes of Jews from the ghetto to the “Aryan side”, this is how he helped Rabbi Lewertow and his two sons, amongst others.“

Working in the ghetto was against my conscience”, he wrote in his memoir. “I had tolook at crime and death all the time. Once I told a young policemen in a guardroom […] not to contribute to human suffering […] One [of them] replied: “Mr. Banaś, I did not know that you were a Jewish uncle and stood up for them”.

During the liquidation of the Kraków ghetto in March 1943, Franciszek Banaś met Róża Jakubowicz and her little son Tadeusz. The woman had known one of Franciszek’s friends before the war. “She was going straight towards the gate where the SS men stood, staggering. She looked more like a dead person than a living one”, he recalled. Banaś bribed the SS man on guard and escorted Róża and her little boy outside the ghetto gate. They both survived the war.

The Holocaust left a deep mark on Franciszek Banaś.“ I, for one, was devastated by the genocide in the Kraków ghetto. How could one murder defenceless people like that? Who gave one man the right to murder other people?”, he wrote. “Was a four-year-old Polish or Jewish or Ruthenian child an enemy of Hitler, an SS man or a member of the Gestapo?”.

 

The text comes from the album "Poles who Rescued Jews during the Holocaust. Recalling Forgotten History" published by Chancellery of the President of the Republic of Poland in cooperation with POLIN Museum of the Hitory of Polish Jews in 2013. 

Bibliography

  • Banaś Jerzy, Franciszek Józef Banaś (1901-1985), „Gazeta Wyborcza-Kraków”, nr 240
  • Banaś Franciszek, Moje wspomnienia, Rzeszów 2009