The Janton Family

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Story of Rescue - The Janton Family

Prior to the war the Fisch family lived in Brzostek, Dębica County. Sara Hena Fisch was a dressmaker. She had three daughters with her husband Majer: Róża, Rachel and Feige (according to another source, Baili and Estera), all dressmakers like their mother, and son Mojżesz, who was a hairdresser.

Jan Jantoń with his wife Bronisława and four children lived in the village of Wola Brzostecka near Brzostek, where they ran a farm located near the forest. According to the testimonies of Bronisława Janton and her neighbours, in the autumn of 1942 the Jantońs took the Fisch family under their roof. For fear of making their presence known, the Jews soon moved into the woods and hid in a dugout. Jan Janton supplied them with food.

On 8 December 1942 Jan Jantoń and all the Jews hiding in the bunker were murdered. The villagers buried their bodies in a common grave. Afterwards, Jan's wife and children lived in hiding in the forest.

The circumstances of the tragic event can be reconstructed to some extent based on testimonies from Polish neighbours and friends of the Jantoń family. In 1991 Franciszek Zasławny from Wola Brzostecka testified that the Jantońs had been his neighbours, so he often talked to Jan.

On 8 December 1942 Franciszek and his father went to the forest for wood to build a barn. “It had snowed a little in the night and I saw tracks of a woman's shoes in the snow […] so I stopped and said to my father, ‘there must be Jews hiding here’. We were about 40 metres away, it was a young dense forest”. Then they heard a grenade explosion and shots from a machine gun. They ran away at once and only returned when the sound of gunfire died down.

In the forest, they met Bronisława Jantoń, who told them how her husband had carried food into the woods for the hidden family. At the site of the event, “We were confronted with a gruesome sight, a murdered family of five Jews and Jan Jantoń with them.”

The Fisch family was also known to Józef Szybowicz from Brzostek. In his testimony from 1991 he mentioned his business relations with Mojżesz Fisch as well as the assistance provided to his family while in hiding: “Since Mojżesz was my colleague and my good friend, I selflessly sent them food and medicines through Jan Jantoń.”

Szybowicz was not eyewitness to the deaths of the Fisch family and Jantoń, and only found out about their murder from the residents of Wola Brzostecka and Jan's wife.

Another witness, Wojciech Przewoźnik, stated in 1988 that on the day of Janton's death he had agreed to go collect wood in the forest with him and his wife. Jantoń went out before the agreed time to bring some food to the Fisch family. They were to meet near the hideout. Przewoźnik recollects: “As we were nearing the shelter, we heard loud gunshots and moans. Out of curiosity I drew closer to the shelter, and at that moment one of the Gestapo men jumped at me from the direction of the shelter and put a machine gun to my head, ready to shoot me. Fortunately, the Gestapo were with a Polish policeman named Leśniak, who knew me very well”. Przewoźnik later returned to the site of the massacre with Jantoń's wife.

In 1987 Bronisława applied for help to the Jewish Historical Institute, recounting the tragic fate of her family.

In 1992 the Yad Vashem Institute decided to award Bronisława Jantoń and her husband Jan the title of Righteous Among the Nations.

Bibliography

  • Archiwum Yad Vashem, 5508