The Czajkowski Family
Story of Rescue - the Czajkowski Family
Before the war, Szymon and Bronisława Czajkowski, their son Andrzej with his wife Anna and their children - Walerian, Jan and Bronisława - lived in the village of Zręcin in Krosno County, where they ran a small, four-hectare farm. Their neighbours were the Jewish Lipiner - Ignacy and Chaya with their two daughters - Sonia and Erna. The Lipiners had a small shop and a small farm.
Andrzej Czajkowski went to school with Chaja Lipiner’s brother - Chaskiel Morgenstern, who had returned to Poland from Germany after Hitler came to power and settled in his family village. Erna was engaged to Rubin Bergman, who lived in nearby Dukla, where the Bergman family ran a bakery. Józef Brajtowicz owned a butcher shop in Krosno.
In 1939, the Lipiner family fled from their home village, escaping from the approaching German troops near Przemyśl. However, after a short time, they returned home. They remained in Zręcin until 1942, when the whole family was deported to the town of Jedlicze in Krosno County. After paying a significant bribe, Lipiner began to work at the nearby estate of Żeglce, run by a Volksdeutsch. When the German authorities ordered all the Jews, living in the area, to move to the ghetto in Krosno, the Lipiner family, initially, managed to avoid that fate.
In his testimony, submitted to the Yad Vashem Institute in 1962, Ignacy Lipiner wrote, "I did not go to Krosno, because I knew that certain death awaited me there". He was caught and beaten, but managed to escape during the transport to Krosno.
Chaya Lipiner and Sonia also fled into the woods. In the same testimony, Lipiner noted, "We wandered around the woods, next to Zręcin, for about three weeks". Hunger forced them to ask peasants for help. Chaya Lipiner was afraid to be left at the mercy of the peasants and, finally, went to the ghetto in Krosno.
Initially, Sonia remained with her father in the house of Nikodem Waliszka. But, because of the difficulties with food supply, Ignacy organised her transport to the ghetto. His elder daughter was in Dukla with her fiancé’s family and, then, in the ghetto in Rzeszów.
After about two months in Zręcin, Lipiner was, as he described in his testimony, "in despair" and went to his neighbours, the Czajkowski family, asking for "temporary shelter". Then, as Ignacy related, Bronisława Czajkowska, "at her own initiative, suggested that I bring my whole family, and that she would hide us".
Czajkowski’s son, Andrzej, feared for the fate of his family, but Mrs Czajkowska did not let Lipiner go, declaring that, according to Ignacy’s words, "he would survive the Nazi occupation with them or they would die together”.
Lipiner brought his wife and younger daughter to the Czajkowski home. His daughter had managed to leave the Krosno ghetto with a group of Jews who had been brought to the labour camp at the airport. He also brought his older daughter who, together with her fiancé, had jumped out of a train transporting Jews from the Rzeszów ghetto, as well as his brother-in-law who, with Brajtowicz, had managed to escape from the labour camp at the airport in Krosno. Ruwen’s two brothers were also brought to the Czajkowski family.
In August 1942, the Germans made a selection in the Krosno ghetto. About 100 people, including women and children, were deported to the Bełżec death camp. The elderly and the infirm were killed in the nearby woods. Only those considered able to work returned to the ghetto, which was then ul. Franciszkańska and ul. Spółdzielcza. Jews also lived in the forced labour camp at the military airport near Krosno.
There were 300-600 Jews in the new ghetto, including the wives and children of those working in the camp at the military airport and at a quarry near Dukla. The ghetto was liquidated in December 1942 and the Jews, who were not killed on the spot, were deported to the Rzeszów.
According to Walerian Czajkowski, the Jews arrived at his grandparents’ and parents’ homes in November 1942. Based on the account of Ignacy and Sonia Lipiner, we can conclude that Ignacy found refuge at their house earlier and that his relatives and friends came to the Czajkowski family later.
In 1987, Andrzej wrote about the time when there were nine Jews in their home. "At first, I was shocked by the enormity of the responsibility and the fear of death penalty, which hung over me and my family. [...] After a sleepless night, I decided to save them." The Jews remained in Czajkowskis home until liberation on 8th September 1945.
Initially, they were placed in a recess near the barn, but their presence there was too dangerous. So, Andrzej, his father Szymon and his son Walerian built a hiding place in the barn behind a false wall, where they prepared bunk beds. The whole family was involved in looking after those in hiding.
It was particularly difficult to obtain food. In the account mentioned above, Andrzej Czajkowski noted, "Life was hard. I often went to remote villages to buy grain and various products, I stored food to feed those who were in hiding. My family did not have enough to eat, but they understood that we needed to share what we had".
Walerian remembered the words of his grandmother Bronisława, which were meant to sooth their hunger, “After all, these are our neighbours and they also want to live”.
At night, grandmother- Bronisława Czajkowska - baked them bread, cooked beans and potatoes. On Yom Kippur, she fasted together with the Jews, "to make our fasting easier". During the Passover, Bronisława baked cakes, "a sort of matzo, to show us her good heart”. She always said that “everyone must follow the rules of their religion, and God is one for all", Ignacy Lipiner wrote in 1962. Bronisława Czajkowska also took care of the sick, for example, the applying of cups.
The Jews remained in hiding during the day. At night, under the care of Andrzej, they came out to get some fresh air and to wash themselves and their underwear.
In 1987, Andrzej’s son, Walerian Czajkowski, said, "We did everything, because they were like prisoners.They could not move during the day, only at night, and we had to be careful.. Every day, you had to try to get them some food, cook soup, take it to the barn and give it out. Then you had to bring water to wash the bowls and spoons. This ordeal lasted for over two years".
The Czajkowski family were afraid that the hiding place would be discovered. In 1987 Walerian Czajkowski observed that "the worst enemy was the fear of discovery, which lasted two and a half years". Twice, the Gestapo searched farm. Andrzej did everything to prevent the discovery of the Jews. For example, he used camphor to mask their odour in the barn and the cemetery, where they went on their night walks.
In the last months of hiding the Jews, the position of the Czajkowski family became particularly difficult. A few dozen German soldiers were quartered near the stables.
Following liberation,the Jews feared for their lives and left Zręcin, went to town and then left Poland. The Lipiner family and Rubin Bergman went to Israel. Chaskel Morgenstern went to the United States, Maks Bergman to Canada and Roman Bergman to Sweden.
Sonia Pomerant, the last of the Jews saved by Czajkowski family in her statement made in 1987, stressed the huge risk taken by the Czajkowski family. "Literally day and night, their entire family lived in the shadow of death for hiding us".
Czajkowscy selflessly hid nine Jews. According to Ignacy Lipiner, religious motivation played an important role. Bronisława Czajkowska was a deeply religious person. In 1987, Andrzej Czajkowski stressed, "The help that I provided to them, along with that of my family, was based on humanitarian motives. I knew these people, I felt sorry for them and I could not be indifferent to their fate ".
In Israel, Ignacy Lipiner took a job in a rubber factory. Almost immediately, he began to send parcels and money for the Czajkowski family. In 1962, he said, "I am in contact with Mrs. Czajkowska, who did more for us than our family could have ever done. Mrs. Czajkowska is a deeply religious and pious woman. Her dream, before she dies, is to see us and the Holy Land. I would like to grant her request. For a long time, I have been scraping every penny to invite Mrs Czajkowska to Israel. At least, in this way, I can repay her for what she did for us." In 1963, Mrs. Czajkowska went to Israel.
In 1963, the Yad Vashem Institute honoured Szymon, Bronisława and Andrzej Czajkowski with the title of Righteous Among the Nations.
In 1987, from his father, Walerian learned that "he did not allow his grandmother, when she visited Israel in 1963, to give the names of those who helped them to survive the war, because he was afraid we would suffer harassment, as if the order of the world changed".
In 1988 the Yad Vashem Institute honoured Walerian Czajkowski and Bronisława Lipińska with the title Righteous Among the Nations.
Other Stories of Rescue in the Area
- The Barut Family
- The Pyrcak Family
- The Wozny Family
- Pasterkiewicz Jozef
- The Wolanski Family
- The Pyrek family
- The Czajkowski Family
- Ciolkosz Kazimierz
- The Pietruszka Family
- The Kedra Family
- The Dabrowiecki Family
- The Kedra Family
- The Jamro Family
- The Wydro Family
- Szklarski Julian
- Golen Eleonora
- Ney Julian
- The Dudek Family
- Golebiowski Marian
- Bogdanowicz Anna
- The Lubas Family
- The Polujko Family
- Sikorski Marian
- The Garbulinski Family
- The Kopec Family
- The Bomba Family
- Tuskiewicz Michalina
- The Niedziela Family
- The Sambora Family
- The Swierczek Family
- The Dziedzic Family
- Patronski Wojciech
- The Janton Family
- Pancerz Helena
- The Bradło Family
- The Herr family
- The Rębiś family
- Boczar Jadwiga
- The Bawół Family
- Mikołajków Family
Grynberg Michał, Księga Sprawiedliwych
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.
- Archiwum Yad Vashem, M 3115