The Fink Family

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Story of Rescue - The Fink Family

Józef Fink, director of the school in Czekanów  near  Sokołów Podlaski, lived in an apartment within the school building together with his wife Lucyna and their children, Maria and Wacław. Szoszana Rafałowicz and Chana Grynberg were sisters from Sokołów. Before World War II their parents ran a mercer’s shop in which the Finks did some shopping.

In August 1941, the Nazis put the families of both Grynbergs and Rafałowicz into the ghetto they formed in Sokołów. In September 1942, Szawta Grynberg asked Józef Fink to give shelter to his 12-year-old daughter, Sara. Fink agreed to lead the girl out of the ghetto and hide her in his own house,

even though some rooms were occupied by German officers.

“And so my father brought Sara to our home, using, of course, some back roads. Sara looked very Jewish, and we lived in school which was full of kids, so she could not show her face, could not go out. She stayed locked up in a small room and kept on crying and crying. She awfully missed her family… Then my father went to the ghetto and told them they should take the child and try to save themselves together, because the girl would not survive alone.” – recalls Maria, daughter of the Righteous, during a get-together with Sara Grynberg’s granddaughter.

Having bribed some Germans, both Jewish families were soon sent to nearby Karczew, to work in the fields – that gave them a chance to escape. “One night [in October 1942] they came to us, because they knew that if they went back to the ghetto they would be put on transport. So they asked to find them some place, somebody who would take them. We asked around, everywhere, but nobody wanted to do it, they were all afraid. Then Sara’s father grabbed a knife and rushed out. My father saw that and went after him, and took away the knife, but he said, if he could not save his daughter he did not want to live” – Maria continues.

The Finks agreed to give shelter to six former neighbors. Pinchas and Szawta dug out a hole in the shed, 1.5 m deep, that was to be their hiding place, and lined it up with eiderdowns. At night those in hiding went out into the school premises.

In the summer of 1944, when the military front was approaching Czekanów, the Nazis evacuated the whole village and put their horses in the shed. Jews had to stay hidden. “My grandma went there, gave them some water and a note saying that unfortunately Germans are coming and evicting our family and there is danger everything would be burned. And they wrote back: do not worry, we may burn alive but we will not come out” - recalls the Finks’ granddaughter, Magdalena Skowrońska, in an interview for the Museum of the History of Polish Jews. She stressed the point that those in hiding chose to perish rather than betray their protectors.

Six days later, when the Soviet army walked in, the Finks came back: “When they uncovered that hole only Mr. Grynberg was still conscious, all the rest were unconscious, half-suffocated” – says Mrs. Skowrońska. Fortunately, they all survived.

In 1948 the Rafałowicz family and the Grynbergs left for Israel. In 1989, when Józef Fink was still alive, Sara and her husband Adam came to Poland. Together with the Finks they visited Czekanów, Treblinka, Sokołów. Friendship between families continues and encompasses new generations.

Read the letter from Magdalena Skowrońska to the Museum of the History of Polish Jews.

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Bibliography

  • Jadwiga Rytlowa, Interview with Sara Gliksman, rescued by Józef and Lucyna Fink, 9.03.2010
  • Krzak Aneta, Interview with Magdalena Skowrońska, a granddaughter of Józef and Lucyna Fink , 20.01.2010
  • Gutman Israel red. nacz., Księga Sprawiedliwych wśród Narodów Świata, Ratujący Żydów podczas Holocaustu, Kraków 2009