The Cygan Family

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Story of Rescue - The Cygan Family

Sara Reis and her family escaped from the Łączna ghetto thanks to Klementyna Marcinek, Franciszek Cygan's sister-in-law. She had gone to the ghetto to warn them of its impending liquidation. They went into hiding with the Marciniak family. However, the home proved not to be a safe place - the Polish family was exposed and, together with those under their care, were murdered by the Germans. Sara managed to escape. She knew the Cygan family from before the War. They lived in Abramów, near Lublin. For this reason, she turned to them for help.  

The Polish family was terrified at the thought of hiding a Jewish woman in their home but, after some thought, they decided to help Sara. She spent eight months with the family as a relative who had come to take care of Edward's mother. This was sufficiently believeable because Janina Cygan was ill at the time.

Years later, Edward recalled, "I hung out with my friends. I went to school. Just being aware that I had to hold my tongue in front of my friends was an immense effort for a young boy. I can tell you that I was constantly afraid throughout those eight months. That's the truth”.

Perhaps Sara could have hidden for longer with the Cyganiewicz family had not Edward's father not been betrayed by a work colleague. Fortunately, that colleague first went to the Polish police, an officer of which wanted to murder Sara. However, he yielded under pressure from Edward who threatened that the underground would kill him if the Jewish woman was hurt in any way. In exchange for looking the other way, Franciszek Cygan agreed to have the Jewish woman taken away from his home.

A short time later, he obtained the necessary papers, gave them to Sara and directced her to Warsaw - to his friend, Kazimiera Zięba, who helped her to hide in Praga, on the other side of the Wisła river. Sara remained there until the Riussians entered in September 1944. After the War, she left Poland, but remained in contact with Edward and his family.

This article is based upon a report coming from the collection of Ośrodek Brama Grodzka – Teatr NN in Lublin, as part of their project "A Light in the Darkness - the Righteous Among the Nations.” 

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Bibliography

  • Baum Marzena, Interview with Edward Cyganiewicz, 1.01.2003
  • Gutman Israel red. nacz., Księga Sprawiedliwych wśród Narodów Świata, Ratujący Żydów podczas Holocaustu, Kraków 2009