The Kaczmarczyk Family

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Story of Rescue - The Kaczmarczyk Family

Before the war, Franciszek and Maria (nee Dróżdż) Kaczmarczyk with their children,, Jan and Stanisława, lived in Stróże (Zakliczyn nad Dunajcem Commune, Brzesko District in the Cracow Province). Their two sons, Stanisław Mieczysław (born 1906) and Tadeusz, were priests in the Tarnów diocese.

Among the neighbours of the Kaczmarczyk family, there were Jakub and Helena (nee Holender) Flaumenhaft with three children: a son Mojżesz, a daughter Rebeka and the youngest Berl (Bernard,  called Berk). The children of the Kaczmarczyk and Flaumenhaft families attended school together. When, in 1936, the Flaumenhafts moved to Cracow, they kept exchanging letters with their former neighbours.

In 1940, the Flaumenhafts were displaced from Cracow. Mojżesz and Berl found themselves in Dęblin, near Tarnów. After that, they stayed in a few places in the area of Nowy Sącz and in labour camps, among others, in Lipno. Their parents and sister lost their lives. In 1942, they were in the camp in Lipie near Nowy Sącz and then in the camp in Będzieszyn, Brzesko District. In September 1943, they managed to escape and hide in nearby forests. The brothers contacted the children of their former neighbours. Jan provided them with weapons, so that they would be able to defend themselves in the forest, and a pot for cooking.

As winter was approaching, the Flaumenhaft brothers were looking for shelter among the farmers who they knew in their home village. Berek found shelter with the Kaczmarczyk family – Jan and his sister Stanisława decided to hide Berek without their parents' knowledge and consent. They did not want to expose them to danger, as the Polish family had already lost two elder sons from the hands of the Germans. Stanisław Mieczysław Kaczmarczyk, a priest, was arrested as a chaplain in the Union of Armed Struggle in Radomyśl and died in Auschwitz in August 1942. The priest Tadeusz Kaczmarczyk was shot in August 1941 in Biegonie near Nowy Sącz.

Berek was with the Kaczmarczyks for half a year, from 20th November 1943 to 10th May 1944. He was sheltered in a specially constructed hiding place in a barn. Stanisława cooked meals for Berek and, when Jan was not at home, she also brought the meals to his shelter and took waste away. Mojżesz, on the other hand, was sheltered by the Bocheński family.

Until November 1944, the brothers hid in nearby forests again. They used to visit the Kaczmarczyks' farm every few weeks, and they were fed and provided with bread, salt or matches. They could also use the vegetable garden and take vegetables to the forest. They were given clogs and a shirt. They last visited the Kaczmarczyks' house in October 1944.

The situation of Flaumenhaft brothers was particularly difficult in the last months before the liberation. In November 1944, they decided to look for a shelter since they could no longer stay in the forest. Snow fell, so their hiding place could be easily disclosed. Their relatives, the Weinstocks from Znamirowice, the Nowy Sącz District, had lost their lives in similar circumstances , as their hiding place in the forest was found. The Bocheński family agreed to shelter Mojżesz again, whilst Berek was hidden by Wojciech Malik – a pre-war activist of the peasant movement from Wola Stróżska (Zakliczyn Commune), where he was cared for until the liberation. Sometimes he helped them on the farm.

In his statement of 1984, Bolesław provided the names of 23 farmers from Stróże who helped the brothers during the war "completely gratuitously, in consideration of the former acquaintance and liking." In most cases, it was an occasional help, the brothers were fed and provided with bread when they came from the forest to the farmers.

After the liberation, the Flaumenhaft brothers returned to Cracow and they both changed the surname into Śliwiński. Michał Śliwiński (Mojżesz Flaumenhaft) married Julia Maria nee Jagła and lived in Cracow, where he was a member of the Jewish Faith Congregation. In 1945, Bolesław Śliwiński (Berek Flaumenhaft) joined the communist police force, and then he was employed by the Provincial Public Security Office in Cracow. He also was a Deputy Head of the Public Security Office in Nowa Huta. He was discharged from service in 1966.

Stanisława underlines in her statement that the help which she provided was "completely gratuitous,"“I never expected any compensation. I was aware that I was exposed to the greatest danger together with them and my whole family, as helping Jews was punishable by death by the occupant. The only reason why I helped them was the Christian love of other people and deep humanitarianism. I thought that every man in the world has the same right to live, irrespective of his nationality."

Michał also underlines the gratuitous help of the Kaczmarczyk family: "Me and my brother had no money, no resources, only a death sentence in the pocket." The help provided by the Kaczmarczyk family had not only a practical aspect but the support and kindness of Jan Kaczmarczyk – as Michał wrote in his statement – gave the brothers "faith in the survival of that tragic time."

In 1984, the Yad Vashem Institute awarded Jan Kaczmarczyk and his sister Stanisława Witek the titles of the Righteous Among the Nations.

Bibliography

  • Mordechai ( Markus) Lustig (Kannengisser), Ghetto of Nowy Sacz under German Occupation
  • Instytut Pamięci Narodowej, Urząd Bezpieczeństwa w Nowej Hucie
  • Instytut Pamięci Narodowej, Twarze krakowskiej bezpieki
  • Yad Vashem, Rebeka Flaumenhaft
  • Archiwum Żydowskiego Instytutu Historycznego, 349, 351
  • Parafia pw. św. Zygmunta w Słomczynie, ks. Stanisław Mieczysław Kaczmarczyk
  • Yad Vashem, Leon Folkman
  • Wojciech Frazik, Ludzie bezpieki województwa krakowskiego: obsada stanowisk kierowniczych Urzędu Bezpieczeństwa i Służby Bezpieczeństwa w województwie krakowskim w latach 1945-1990 : informator personalny, Kraków 2009