Dabrowski Boleslaw

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Story of Rescue - Dabrowski Boleslaw

Bolesław Dąbrowski lived with his wife Zofia (née Rojak) (d. 1963) and three children: Stanisław, Stanisława and Henryk in the village of Starościn-Kolonia, Lubartów County, Kamionka Municipality.

Kamionka near Lublin was home to the family of Franek (Efraim) Blajchman. His grandmother Chana Gitel (1870-1942) and mother Ita (née Lewin) (d. 1942) managed a grocery shop in the town, while his father Izrael Chaim Blajchman (1890-1942) was a grain merchant. Franek had five siblings: Sara (1920-1942), Estera (1925-1942), Szmuel (1927-1942), Leibel and Szajndel.

Under German occupation, Franek Blajchman initially worked in trade, using his bicycle to transport food items: honey, chickens, butter, grain, meat, tobacco and sugar from neighbouring villages to sell in Lubartów and Lublin. Since he did not wear an armband with the Star of David and spoke perfect Polish, he managed to avoid being recognized as a Jew.

In October 1942 the Jews from Kamionka were ordered to relocate to the ghetto in Lubartów. According to the testimony given in 1989 by Dąbrowski's daughter Stanisława at the Main Commission for the Investigation of Nazi Crimes in Poland, at that time seven Jews appeared at the house of her parents. The father introduced them to his daughter as distant relatives, and the following month he sent her to live with his sister Anna Kuziołek in the village of Piotrowice.

When the displacement of Jews from Kamionka was underway, Franek managed to escape and hide in the house of an acquaintance in the village. Later he found out that all the inhabitants of the ghetto were transported in an unknown direction. Among the displaced were Franek's parents, grandmother and siblings.

Several days later, in the forest, Franek came across a group of approximately one hundred Jews hiding in bunkers. He convinced them to organize self-defence. In December 1942 the group managed to buy weapons from a Polish villager.

In late January 1943 Blajchman and the forest group, among them Blajchman's cousin Frank Lewin and Awram Reiss, found their way to the farm of Bolesław Dąbrowski. They stayed for the night. The next day, as he was leaving the farm, Blajchman heard gunshots and the sounds of pursuit. The Jews protected by Dąbrowski as well as Reiss, who chose to stay at the Dąbrowski family household, were all killed.

Bolesław Dąbrowski was arrested and shot in the Borek forest on the way to the police station. In 1989 the Main Commission for the Investigation of Nazi Crimes in Poland interviewed several witnesses who had lived in Starościn during the war. All of them confirmed that an execution of several hiding Jews and their guardian took place in the village.

Dąbrowski's wife and children lived in poverty for many years. In 1992 Stanisława Chojnacka (née Dąbrowska) wrote in a letter to Yad Vashem: “As a thirteen-year-old girl I was left without a father and homeless. I was in and out of stranger's houses. To put a roof over my head, I worked for a piece of bread”. Stanisława stayed with her aunt, where she helped look after children, “and I also went to nearby farmers and toiled so I could have something to wear”, she recalls. Her brothers and mother moved in with their grandmother Agnieszka Rojek in the village of Osówka. The young men hired out their labour, since in the words of Stanisława, their mother was “unresourceful”.

In the spring of 1943 Blajchman's group joined Jewish partisans commanded by Samuel Gruber. From September 1943 the unit received support from local units of the People's Guard. Soviet airdrops supplied Jewish partisans with explosives, machine guns and ammunition. In 1944 Blajchman's units were ordered to move closer to Parczew, where Yehiel Greenszpan's troops were fighting and where liberation found them in 1944.

After the war Frank Blajchman married Cesia Pomeranc. In 1945 he was acting Head of the Department of Prisons and Camps at the Provincial Office of Public Security in Kielce. Later, he left for the United States with his wife.

In 1994 the Yad Vashem Institute decided to award Bolesław Dąbrowski the title of Righteous Among the Nations.

In 2009 Frank Blaichman published his memoir Rather Die Fighting. A Memoir of World War II, which was published in Polish translation the following year under the title Wolę zginąć walcząc. Wspomnienia z II wojny światowej. The book sparked controversy in Poland because of the author's views on anti-Semitism in the Home Army.

Bibliography

  • Frank Blaichman, Wolę zginąć walcząc. Wspomnienia z II wojny światowej, Zakrzewo 2010
  • Archiwum Yad Vashem, 5558