The Gołębiecki Family

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Story of Rescue - The Gołębiecki Family

The widow, Zuzanna Gołębiecka, lived in Brańska Kolonia in the Podlasie Province, where she ran a small farm with the help of her four children– sons Czesław, Franciszek and Kazimierz, as well as her daughter, Anna. In November 1942 roku, during the time of the liquidation of the ghetto in nearby Brańsk, a schoolmate of Kazimierz’s, Hersz Rubinsztajn, together with his sister Dora, knocked on their door. Before the War, Hersz ran a photography business in Brańsk, whereas Dora studied in Nowogródek. Mosze and Szmul Klejnot, sons of Józef and Cywia, soon linked up with the Rubinsztajn siblings. Hersz and Dora Rubinsztajn, together with Mosze and Szmul Klejnot, asked the Gołębiecki family for refuge.

The decision to hide the four young people was taken by Zuzanna and Czesław. Anna Gołębiecka-Glinka, in an interview for the Museum of the History of Polish Jews, said, ”My brother and my mother. My mother had a very, very kind heart. And she always felt sorry for everyone (…) And when she saw them, how they had come barefoot …” The rest of the family took an active part in caring for those in hiding. Cywia,  together with the three youngest children, perished in Treblinka.

Apart from the four who were hiding permanently at the farm, the Gołębieski family also helped Mosze and Szmul’s three brothers who were hiding in the forest with Icchak Rochelson, son of Szmul who was the owner of a mill in Brańsk. Almost every day, they received a hot meal. According to other information, six Klejnot children perished in Treblinka in 1942.

In the spring of 1943, the family was warned by a volksdeutsch friend that they were in danger because neighbours suspected that they were hiding Jews. Mosze, Szmul, Dora and Hersz, in the meantime, had found a temporary hidingplace in the local cemetery, to where Anna and Czesław would bring them milk and bread. After three weeks, they returned to the Gołębiecki family.

In August 1943,  as the result of a neighbour denouncing them, German police came and conducted a search. They shot Dora and Hersz who had tried to hide in the chimney. Mosze and Szmul, together with their hosts, managed to escape to the forest. Because the death penalty faced them for hiding Jews, they had to remain in hiding until the end of the War. Their farm was burnt by the Germans and was later ransacked by their neighbours.

The Klejnots hid in forest trenches. Mosze Klejnot died when he tried to cross the line of the front. According to other information, he died together with nine other Jews who had been hiding in the bunker. After liberation in July 1944, Szmul Klejnot and Szmul Rochelzon left for Israel. Until the day they died, they corresponded with those people who had helped them to survive the occupation. The Gołębiecki family moved away, far from their home, as a precaution against the revenge of their neighbours for the help that they gave Jews.

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Bibliography

  • Archiwum Yad Vashem
  • Gutman Israel red. nacz., Księga Sprawiedliwych wśród Narodów Świata, Ratujący Żydów podczas Holocaustu, Kraków 2009
  • Opawska Ewa, Interview with Anna Glinka, 14.08.2010