Czyzyk Grzegorz

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Story of Rescue - Czyzyk Grzegorz

Before the war Grzegorz Czyżyk lived in Chełmno near Lublin. He was a friend of Mojżesz Icchak Frucht and his wife Sarah Jehudit, who lived at 25 Lubelska Street. Mojżesz had ten children from two marriages - three daughters (Malka, Bela and Itta) and seven sons (Arie, Szyja, Awigdor, Eli, Ruwen). Three sons emigrated to Palestine before the war, two to the United States, and one - Eli – to South America (Argentina or Brazil). Only one son stayed in Poland with his family - Szyja, a mill owner. Bela Frucht married Izaak (Ajzyk) Perec, who had an agency selling Singer sewing machines in Chełmno. In 1936 they had a daughter, Sara (Sara). Malka married Torem, Itta married Chaim Tuchman.

After the outbreak of World War II, Malka’s son – Jakub Torem - fled to the east. Izaak Perec also decided to flee to the Soviet occupation zone in fear of German repressions, but he was killed while trying to return to Chełmno for his family, together with his brother-in-law – Bela’s brother – Szyja.

Itta and Chaim Tuchman with their three daughters - Malka (Mania), Sara and Bracha – and Bela and her daughter were placed in the ghetto in Chełmno, and moved to an apartment at the back of the building, which before the war belonged to the Frucht family.
Bela secretly left the ghetto and then sold flour which she brought from outside. One day she was arrested. Thanks to Czyżyk she was released from prison. Itta and her husband Chaim died in later actions. Bela began to work in a factory outside the ghetto. Every day she left her daughter in a hideout, then she smuggled her to the so-called Aryan side and placed her in the attic of the factory or in the field while she worked.

On the night of 5 October 1942 Grzegorz Czyżyk came to warn Bela that the next day the ghetto in Chełmno would be liquidated. He decided to hide Bela for the sake of his friendship with her parents. He also wanted to do a good deed, as he knew at that time that he was terminally ill with cancer, and doctors gave him only a few months to live. Bela managed to persuade him to take her daughter Sara with her. However, Czyżyk did not agree to take Itta’s daughters under his roof.

Bela and Sara were placed in a dugout, where he kept potatoes, and then in a poultry house. They survived two years in very difficult conditions, never leaving their hideout, because Czyżyk lived near the German military police station. What is more, his wife and children were opposed to hiding the Jewish woman and her child. In the last months of his life, Czyżyk was alone in his house, he was already dying.

Grzegorz Czyżyk died in 1944. Bela and Sara left the hideout extremely exhausted, Bela died after a few months. Earlier she gave her daughter the addresses of her brothers in Palestine and in the USA. Sara left with the Jewish children's home and spent about two years in Germany. In 1947 she emigrated to Palestine, where she lived with Arie Frucht - one of her uncles. Later she also lived in a kibbutz.

She married Eli Kaciwa (Eitan), who also survived the Holocaust. In 1958 she gave birth to their daughter, Nira. In 1963 the whole family moved to the US because Eli's relatives lived there. They changed their names to Eric and Sheila Eton. Sheila worked as a nurse. For many years she tried to find Czyżyk’s family. In the last years of her life she was a volunteer with the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, she met with young people to share her experiences of the Holocaust. After her death, her daughter Nira managed to make contact with Czyżyk’s grandchildren. It turned out that the family did not know the story of his help. In August 2014 Sara’s daughter, Nira Berry, during her visit to Poland, gave an interview to the Museum of the History of Polish Jews.

In 2013 Yad Vashem decided to award Grzegorz Czyżyk with the title of Righteous Among the Nations.

Bibliography

  • Klara Jackl, Interview with Nira Berry, 12.08.2014