The Dobkowski Family

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Story of Rescue - The Dobkowski Family

The Dobkowski family lived in Zanklew, located 6 km from Wizna and 7 km from Jedwabne. The Lewin family lived in Wizna. Bolesław Dobkowski had a farm, which he was able to acquire because he had worked in America. Izrael Lewin was a highly regarded tailor – he tailored, among others, cassocks for priests and uniforms for soldiers. They knew each other very well. They were both veterans of the Polish-Soviet War.

In September 1942 the Lewins were urgently seeking shelter. Izrael’s two older sons were killed by the Germans in the Giełczyn forest. It is possible, that his youngest daughter was burnt in the barn in Jedwabne. One day, Home Army soldiers (with whom Bolesław was collaborating) brought the Lewins to the Dobkowskis’ house. The Jews had been hiding there for 3 years: at first in a hiding place built under the wardrobe in the living room, and later in a shelter dug in the fields.

The move from the house into the fields was dramatic, because unexpectedly it turned out a German officer would move into the room where the Lewins were hiding. Tadeusz Dobkowski recalls: “My parents were just preparing the bread to be baked in the morning, they were putting it into the stove and talking: »What are we going to do now? What are we supposed to do? Hand them over to the Germans?«. And I’m standing there and listening. A sixteen-year-old boy. So I say: »dad, mom, we can’t do that, they’ll kill us together with them. We somehow managed to hide them for three years […] so we have to do something now» […]”.

After the Second World War the Lewins moved to Łódź. They emigrated to Israel in the early 50s. They used to send letters and packages to the Dobkowskis. The families lost contact after 1968 but they renewed it in the late 80s. The Dobkowskis read in a newspaper, that it was possible to receive the Yad Vashem medal for rescuing Jews. The father, Bolesław – although in 1945 he was beaten for the help he provided for the Jews and his homestead was robbed – did not consider the medal important. As he told his son Wincenty: “What is important is that fortunately we managed to save the lives of four people”.

Bibliography

  • Archiwum Żydowskiego Instytutu Historycznego, 349, 1266
  • Grzybek Marcin, Interview with Mieczysław Dobkowski, 10.04.2009
  • Grzybek Marcin, Interview with Tadeusz Dobkowski, 10.04.2009
  • Gutman Israel red. nacz., Księga Sprawiedliwych wśród Narodów Świata, Ratujący Żydów podczas Holocaustu, Kraków 2009