The Bartczak Family and Teresa Grabowska

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Story of Rescue - The Bartczak Family and Teresa Grabowska

When the War broke out, Teresa Grabowska was twelve years old. She and her siblings lived with their parents, Marianna and Adam Arabski, in the village of Mąkolice in the Łódzkie Province. Near their home was a farm belonging to the Bartczak family, relatives of Marianna (her parents, Teresa’s grandparents, Bronisław’s sister and three brothers - Józef, Franciszek and Władysław.

Teresa would often spend time at the farm, especially from autumn 1944. It was then, one night, that three young Jews, escapees from the ghetto, knocked on the window. They were Samuel Faivich, Chaskel Brajtberg and Majer Brajtberg. They asked for help, claiming that they were friends of the fourth Bartczak brother, Antoni, who lived in Częstochowa. The Bartczak family was religious. They considered it to be sin not to help. So, after a brief family discussion, they agreed to take them in.

The three men were hidden in a gap between the barn and a shed where the horse was kept. The hiding place was camouflaged by hay and boards. The gap was lined with straw and the men were able to either sit or lie down. At night, they would go out into the yard, but were always supervised by a member of the Bartczak family. During the whole time they were in hiding, just in case, the Jews were given Polish names - Samuel became Stanisław, Chaskel became Henryk and Majer became Marek.

When Samuel came to the Bartczak family, he was already quite ill. It was suspected that he might even die.  Bronisław’s aunt cared for him. She gave him medicine, food and provided him with a warm quilt. After two weeks, he returned to health. Shortly after, on Christmas Eve, those in hiding were invited into the house for the Wigilia meal. One of the uncles stood guard due to these unexpected guests.

Seventeen year old Teresa was extremely engaged in helping those in hiding – she brought them food and washed their clothing. Often, she would go to the hiding place just to talk and joke with them. At night, she would return to her parent’s home. Her mother and father knew what she was doing and supported her activities.

One day, Teresa was at the farm with just her grandparents. Suddenly, they heard screams from houses nearby. German soldiers were carrying out a search. After a moment, her younger brother came running and said that her father wanted her to come home immediately. However, Teresa did not want to run off, leaving her grandparents and those in hiding alone. She went out into the yard and began to pray.

“I didn’t know what to do. [...] It was frosty. Snow was falling, the wind was blowing and I knelt in the middle of the yard and prayed. Actually, I don’t know why I didn’t run off. I didn’t hide either. Looking at it logically, it was stupid, but it all turned out alright. The military police came and my heart was in my throat. They leaned against the fence, one pointing to the other at me. They stood there for a moment. My heart was thumping so loudly that they could probably have heard it. They stood there talking as if they were arguing. [...] Then they turned around and left. I don’t know how to explain it. This was the only house which was not searched”.

When the War ended, those in hiding left the Bartczak farm and emigrated abroad. In the post-War period, all three corresponded with their rescuers. For a long time, Teresa exchanged letters with Samuel. At the end of the 1980’s, he came and visited the farm in Mąkolice. In 1993, Teresa Grabowska and the Bartczak family were awarded the Righteous Among the Nations medal.

Bibliography

  • Charlotte Pothuizen, Interwiev with Teresa Grabowska, 29.03.2011