Grek-Gozdek Jan

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Story of Rescue - Grek-Gozdek Jan

As a teenager, during the occupation, Jan Gozdek actively participated in the resistance movement as a member of the People's Army. In his testimony written in 1986, titled The account of “Grek” – Gozdek Jan, rescuer of people of Jewish origin, Gozdek remarked: “To recount an event, you need to have lived through it yourself and seen it; I watched with repulsion as innocent people were killed and tortured; to help them you had to risk your own life”.

In April 1943, in a forest in Zagnańsk, Gozdek accidently came across two Warsaw Jews who, according to his account, escaped from transport in Skarżysko Kamienna. Gozdek remembered that Abram was a professor and Izaak a merchant. Gozdek shared his food with them, gave them his clothes and promised further help: “My lunch consisted of four slices of buttered bread and one bottle of lemonade […]. Izaak Supel was wearing a jacket and Abram-Sobot Miodek [was] in nothing but a torn shirt, so I took off my coat and dressed the freezing man in it”.

The next day he drove them in a wagon to the village of Jóźwików, where they all lived together with the Soviet guerrilla fighter Sopranov. Until March 1944, they stayed in a barn abandoned by a poor farmer.

On 19 April 1944 Gozdek was arrested by the Gestapo and imprisoned in Pińczów, where he was interrogated and tortured. He managed to escape from prison. In his account he mentions his bold assaults on German military police.

The two Jews, supplied with money by Gozdek, survived the war and afterwards migrated to the United States. It was only in the 1970s that they managed to find Gozdek's address through the Office for Veterans and the Polish Red Cross.

In 1976 in a notary statement Abram S. Miodek said: “I am grateful for saving my life during the occupation of Poland between 2 April 1943 and 21 April 1944. Throughout that period, Jan Grek-Gozdek protected me from a hideous death, putting his own life at risk, fed me and my companion in misery, Wiesław Supel, and clothed us against the cold. Those were all completely selfless acts. He gave financial help to me and my friend Mr Supel, and this is the reason we are alive today and living safely in the US”.

In 1988 the Yad Vashem Institute decided to award Jan “Grek” Gozdek the title of Righteous Among the Nations.

Bibliography

  • Grynberg Michał, Księga Sprawiedliwych, Warszawa 1993

    The lexicon includes the stories of Poles honoured with the title of Righteous Among the Nations in the years 1963-1989. The list of entries is preceded by a preface by Icchak Arad and Chaim CheferThe Righteous of the World.

  • Archiwum Yad Vashem, 3850