The Karasek Family

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Story of Rescue - The Karasek Family

Before the war, Teresa Karasek and her ten children lived in a town of Rydułtowy, in Silesia (Rybnik County). Her husband died a tragic death in a mine in 1933.

“It was a very peaceful place. Jews lived here as well. Even at my aunt’s there lived two Jewesses, very nice ones. Life was normal before the war. Nobody pointed their fingers at others,” recalls Zofia, Teresa’s daughter.

During World War II, Rydułtowy was incorporated into the Reich; the Germans enlisted Teresa’s three sons to the Wehrmacht. One of them managed to avoid the recruitment by running away and hiding. In hiding remained also the eldest daughter, who in this way stayed safe from being sent to work inside the Reich.

In January 1945, when Teresa Karasek was going back home from church, she met a man, who asked here for help. She took him home, gave him some bread and hot coffee. Emil Schönberger, a doctor from Koszyce, was a prisoner in the Auschwitz camp. He managed to escape from the Death March in January 1945 and stayed at the Karaseks’ until the end of the war.

Zofia Gawenda remembers some details concerning the hiding. “And then he stayed with us; where? In all possible holes. It wasn’t that he lived with us in our house, oh no. It wasn’t possible. He was even in a pigsty.” Precautions needed to be taken, as, up until the liberation, the German army stationed at the Karaseks’ farmstead. When the family members were asleep, Teresa allowed Emil to leave the shelter, during which time they would sit together and talk.

The relations between Emil and the family were kind. Zofia’s family did not expect any compensation or gratification for the help: “Nobody ever mentioned that they should be rewarded for what they did. You ate what was there; it was selfless (…) The only thought that was on our minds was to rescue the man, that’s all that mattered.”

During the time he was hiding, Emil Schönberger helped treat two Karaseks’ children. As recounted by Gawenda, one of the children was even saved from death this way.

Emil remained in hiding from January 28 to March 26, 1945. Then he returned to Koszyce and found his wife. In 1967, they moved to Israel and took up residence in Haifa, changing their last name to Schronek. Dr. Schronek became the head of a clinic. The Schroneks are dead now, but Zofia’s family stays in touch with their kids.