The Godziek Family

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Story of Rescue - The Godziek Family

During the evacuation of the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp in January 1945, the Germans organized the so called death march. Among others, 3 Jewish women of Hungarian origin took part in this march: Olga Lengyel and her two friends, Magda and Luiza. When the prisoners were passing the village of Brzeźce near Pszczyna, the 3 women managed to escape from the convoy and take shelter in the household belonging to Maria and Ludwik Paszek.

After dark, they were transported in the wagon, hidden in the hay, to the household of Augustyn and Zofia Godziek. The Paszeks' house was located near the main route of the march and was exposed to frequent stopovers of the Germans during their evacuation. On the other hand, Augustyn Godziek worked in Landwache, a local order service, so he was above suspicion. Here, the three fugitives were given shelter and protection. Olga often talked about her camp experiences. She noted down all her memoirs in a notebook.

Some German soldiers stationed in Brzeźce. One day one of them unexpectedly marched into the kitchen of the Godzieks’ house, where Olga was in the process of baking a Transylvanian cake for the household members. She informed him that she was a relative of the Godziek family and that she had just arrived for a visit. Her mother was sick and bedridden, and was lying in one of the village houses. Till that time Olga had been busy taking care of her – she explained. The German accepted the explanations. From now on he imposed on the Godziek family, bringing his friends with him and encouraging the household members to take part in various plays.

The three women lived in the Godziek family to see the liberation. They left Augustyn the addresses of their families, so that he could notify them in case of the women’s deaths. Fearing the Russians stationing nearby, Augustyn hid the papers in a hiding place above the entrance to the house. However, because of the damp, the letters inscribed in ink got blurred. As a result, they became illegible.

“In 1947, having received no sign of life from the Jews, my father Ludwik wrote a letter to Olga’s brother-in-law living in Romania” – remembers Henryk Paszek. “We received the message saying that Olga now lives in New York. She wrote to us a year later. She thanked for saving her life and promised to send us her freshly published book. It was the last letter we received from Olga (…).”

The memoirs written down by the Rescued were published in the USA in 1947 under the title of “Five Chimneys”. Olga Lengyel was one of the founders of Memorial Library and Art Collection of Second World War in New York, the institution aiming at preventing the Holocaust from being forgotten. In 1981, she visited Brzeźce. She offered her thanks to the children of the Paszek and the Godziek families. Unfortunately, Augustyn and Zofia Godziek as well as Ludwik Paszek were already dead at that time. Both families were posthumously awarded the honorary title of “Righteous Among the Nations”.

Bibliography

  • Sztoler Grzegorz, Ścieżki śląskie godne wspomnienia, Chorzów 2004
  • Red., Olga, Magda i Lojzika, Górnośląski Tygodnik Regionalny „Echo”, Nr 24 (1964)
  • Gutman Israel red. nacz., Księga Sprawiedliwych wśród Narodów Świata, Ratujący Żydów podczas Holocaustu, Kraków 2009