Gorczyk Stanisław

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Story of Rescue - Gorczyk Stanisław

During the German occupation, Stanisław Gorczyk occupied himself with barter trade in the General Government: since 1941, he had been travelling from Skole to Zamość to trade clothes and underwear for food. In August 1942, Antoni Dubel, a man assisting him in his trade in Zamość, proposed that Gorczyk smuggle Armin Back, a Czech Jew, and his wife across the border, to Hungary.

The Back family was transported from Prague to Terezin in April 1942 and then from Terezin to Zamość. According to Gorczyk, the Backs settled in Zamość under an assumed name. In his statement made in 1984, Gorczyk quoted his conversation with Dubel. Dubel told Gorczyk what the situation of Czech Jews in Poland was. The Germans “brought them to carry out earthworks for them and they are systematically exterminating them so we, Poles, are obliged to help them. That help is to consist in transporting them back to Czecho-Slovakia”. When Gorczyk returned to Zamość, a decision was made to take the Backs to Hungary instead as it was safer there. Gorczyk took the Backs by train from Zamość, through Lviv and Stryj, to Skole. He looked after them for two weeks at his own house and then led them on foot across the border to Hungary. The Backs took food and forged documents with them and used those during their trip. According to Gorczyk, after they crossed the border and were already in Hungary, Back “called God and his wife to bear witness to his words and swore to me that if he survived the war, he would pay me 10,000 dollars and Mrs Dobesz confirmed that her husband was a man of his word and that he would keep his promise”. The Dobesz family asked Gorczyk to lead Stanisław Lanys and his wife and Józef Kalman with his wife and her 16-year-old sister across the border as well.

“And, in the autumn of 1942, I had to stop smuggling people through – I just felt my heart would not bear any more fear and exhaustion”, Gorczyk wrote after the war. He emphasized in his statement that the Jews he transported only paid for their railway tickets. “I wanted nothing more from them, acting on the basis of humanitarian principles and hoping that they would keep their promises of a reward if they lived through the war”. In 1983, he described his motives as follows: “first and foremost, [I was driven by] my love of fellow human beings as many of my friends, men and women alike, were Jewish and I helped them as much as my modest resources would allow me to, sharing the food I acquired with them”. The Dobesz family fled to Bratislava and saw the end of the war there.

Close to the end of 1942, Gorczyk was enlisted for forced labour at a railway shop where he worked for two years. In August 1944, he was evacuated from Skole to Slovakia. Due to his poor health, he was sent to a hospital in Bratislava where he met Dobesz by chance. The latter was employed there as a mechanic. The Dobesz family, even though they were facing difficulties at the time, visited Gorczyk at the hospital Gorczyk feared that his contacts with them could put him at risk. After he was liberated in Kuty, he returned to Poland and settled in Gliwice. In April 1945, he went on a search for the Dobesz family and found them in Ostrawa in the Moravian region where Michał worked as the manager of gasworks. Dobesz handed over to him a statement confirming Gorczyk’s role in saving the lives of Jews: “for the attention of the Jewish Committee in Poland: I would like to kindly ask you to present Mister Gorczyk with a reward for his strenuous and fruitful efforts and his help for us”. By 1948, the Dobesz family had left for Australia, leaving no contact details for Gorczyk.

The Yad Vashem Institute awarded the Righteous Among the Nations title to Stanisław Gorczyk in 1986.