The Holubowicz Family

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Story of Rescue - The Holubowicz Family

At the beginning of World War II, Franciszek and Helena Hołubowicz lived with their sons, Zbigniew and Kazimierz, in Czabarówka,  a Polish – Ukrainian village near the USSR border (before World War II in Tarnopol district, currently in Ukraine). Zbigniew would go to school and help his parents with the work on their farm. Franciszek was a primary school principal, and Helena was a retired teacher. In December 1940, the father was arrested by NKVD. He stayed in Soviet concentration camp until June 1941. The family managed to get him off. After Franciszek had returned to Czabarówka, he continued to work in school.

It was July 1943 when Mojżesz and Liza Altschiler, shopkeepers from the nearby town of Husiatyń, came with their son, Dow, to Hołubowicz family to ask for help.

The Altschiler family was incredibly lucky to avoid death several times: they escaped before or during the liquidation of neighboring ghettos in Husiatyń, Probużna and Kopyczyńce. Ukrainians killed their son, Jakub, while the family was escaping from Łuska’s possessions, where they used to work. Feeling absolutely no hope for shelter, they planned to commit suicide.

Although Hołubowicz family had not known the Altschiler before, they decided to rescue them. Fransiszek said then: “ If you really want to go out and die this way, we must help you. We’ll hide you at our house until the danger’s over.”

First, the Altschilers hid in the barn attic, where they survived the Nazi’s search. Then they moved to the stable. To warm themselves during the winter nights, they cuddled up to animals. Their hosts delivered them food in buckets to avoid recognition. At the end of 1943, due to additional danger from Ukrainian mobs who attacked Poles, the Altschiler hid under the floor of the carpenter’s workshop.

After Nazis had searched the house, Zbigniew and his brother hardly avoided transportation to the labor camp. Nonetheless, they continued to disinterestedly risk their lives to help the Altschilers. Their Polish and Ukrainian neighbors, who supported Nazis, could have informed on them. Both families suffered hunger and distress together. The close family of the Hołubowicz knew nothing. Even after World War II, they did not dare to reveal the truth, being afraid of Ukrainian hostility.

In March 1944, after the Red Army had entered the village, the Altschilers left their shelter. They went to Palestine in 1947. The families had kept in touch until the Polish- Israel diplomatic relations were broke off. Zbigniew and Dow (who changed his name for Eshel) resumed them in 1990.  They visited each other – Zbigniew went to Isreal twice, Dow came to Poland as well.