The Herr family

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Story of Rescue - The Herr family

Kazimiera and Feliks Herr lived at the village of Hyżne near Dynów. They had three little daughters. Feliks was the manager of a post office and Kazimiera was a teacher. Several Jewish families lived at their village. One of them, the Mantels, owned a shop where the Herrs would often do their shopping. The Herr family was on friendly terms with all those families, especially with the Stelzers.

In the first half of 1942, an order was issued that all Jews in the area were to move to a ghetto created in Jawornik Polski. The Herrs were moved by this. “My mother and our housekeeper cried...”, Irena, one of the daughters, recalled.

Only young Jews were allowed to stay – they were to work at a local land property for the benefit of the Third Reich. This, however, was soon to change. “Shots were heard from the direction of the village (...) My father went out. He returned after a moment, pale and agitated, and started nervously walking around the room. He said to us: ‘They’re shooting Jews! Pray, my children’.”

Some managed to escape from the mayhem. Herszko Stelzer knocked at the doors of the Herrs. Kazimiera and Feliks decided to run the risk of hiding this friend of theirs. They hid him in a shed adjacent to the house, among beams they had bought before the war for building a new house. Kazimiera or Agata Jarosz, the housekeeper, brought him food. In order to stay safe, they did not tell their children about the man they were hiding.

Herszko was not the only person they helped – they assisted Frydek, Herszko’s brother hiding in the nearby forests. When he came to them in the evenings, they would provide him with everything they could spare. Herszko did not realise that his brother was in hiding so close to him. The Herrs did not tell him about it and did take Frydek in for a longer period of time because rumour started circulating in the village that there was a Jew hiding at their farm. A member of the Navy-Blue Police said to Feliks: “Mister Herr, things could turn nasty, people are talking that you are hiding a Jew”. In spite of this, the Herrs also helped Mirka, Frydek’s and Herszko’s sister, at least once.

Some time later, the daughters of the Herrs discovered Herszko’s hiding place in the shed by chance. It made the situation too dangerous for everyone and Herszko had to leave. The Herrs helped him find a new hiding place. He was lucky enough to have survived the occupation.

Feliks also took part in other underground activity and was a member of the Home Army (AK). He was shot by the Germans in 1944, right before the coming of Soviet troops.

The Herrs helped others selflessly. They acted out of humanitarian considerations and because of their pre-war friendship. After the war, they communicated with Herszko by mail and he sent gifts to them from Israel. The Yad Vashem Institute awarded Kazimiera, and Feliks the Righteous Among the Nations title in 1992.

Bibliography

  • Gutman Israel red. nacz., Księga Sprawiedliwych wśród Narodów Świata, Ratujący Żydów podczas Holocaustu, Kraków 2009
  • Archiwum Yad Vashem, M.31.2/5081