Domonik Tadeusz

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Story of Rescue - Domonik Tadeusz

”Jews were brought from Lublin. At the beginning of 1941, they gathered all the Jews by force to work on country estates. Later, many Jews escaped whenever possible. Whoever could escape, did escape – who couldn’t, didn’t. They roamed around. And from there, they dispersed. I lived about half a kilometre from this estate.

Regarding a small child, my grandmother said, ‘Could we hide her in our home?’ I had a home near the mountain, and there we lived with them. There were three of them – the husband, the wife and a child. They were called Rodsztajn. I don’t remember Mrs Rodsztajn’s first name but, in any case, the couple had one child. The young man was called Moniek. We were close friends and together we hung around the home. Later, friends of their’s appeared - Abram and Moszek, I’ve forgotten their surnames because they constantly came and went. Once they went here and another time, there.

And there was this lady called Szlamówna. She is no longer alive as she was murdered at a neighbour’s house when those neighbours were attacked. They later began murdering Jews in the surrounding area - those who fled. It was then that we provided our home as a shelter - a pit. The pit was right next to our home. It was deep enough for a person. The pit was dug behind the house. It was filled with straw – that, simply, was how the hiding-place was created. And they lived there until the end, until 1944 when the Soviets entered with the Polish Army.

One family lived here, with me it was just temporary. After a couple of nights, they went to neighbours. In the beginning, they lived with the Jusiak’s. But no one was allowed to mention that they were there – absolutely no one! It was a distance away, a kilometre, maybe not even a full kilometre. At night, they would come to visit. (...)

My grandmother lived with them and we, as young boys, would go to work at the manor. And that Fawel was a peasant and so wherever and whenever he could, he would make shoes to order in my home. And only in that way could we get things necessary to live. Twice a week, I walked to Lublin for provisions. One couldn’t go shopping during the day, only in the evenings. I would come to Lublin at night when it was already dark.No one could know why I needed to buy so much food. Everything had to be secretive – that’s the way it was in 1944.

And so I went, twice weekly, to Lublin. And when I went, I would leave home at 11:00am  and come  back at eight in the evening, or ten, so that no one malicious would see that I was carrying goods. I always bought milk and something to eat. I bought milk from one of my aunts’. Her name was Kruszyńska. Unfortunately, she passed away. She had a farm behind a river. I would buy milk for them there. In that way we had the food that we needed – everything was taken care of.

At home, there was a threshing floor with splitting wedges and there was no way they could sit in that all the time. They went out, when breakfast, lunch or dinner was being prepared they were in the kitchen. The kitchen was right by an entrance. It was a kind of opening. It was a kind of a square, lined with boards, with a frame spread with clay. Flattened into a floor, the hole was clad with dirt. What a weight – two kilogramsm compacted, compacted, compacted. It was then evened out. The dirt crumbled and, when swept away, it was hidden – even under the bed. Everywhere, it was swept back so that it was evident that everywhere had been swept. In that way, it was camouflaged.

If thugs came, he would move the slat – believe me – moved it sideways. I quailed.  When the dirt crumbled wherever, finding that would be the end – the end of us. But they didn't notice.

After liberation, the Rodsztain family lived in Lublin. And, in 1956, when there was a campaign against the Jews, they left for Australia. I’m not sure if it was Australia but, until they left, they stayed here”.

The interview with Tadeusz Domonik edited by M. Grudzińska and A. Marczuk is published here courtesy of the State Museum in Majdanek.

Bibliography

  • Madała K., Interview with Tadeusz Domonik, 17.06.1997