The Kedra Family

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Story of Rescue - The Kedra Family

Siblings Julianna and Tadeusz, from the village of Boża Wola, hid the Fiszer family during the occupation.

”We live in the village ofi Boża Wola, Zakrzówek County, District of Kraśnik,in the Lubelski Province. I don’t remember the date when the Jews came. I was young at the time. I pleased with my brother, ‘Don’t take them in – it’s too dangerous’. But he said, ‘In Boża Wola, Jews live in every second cottage – be quiet.’.

They came in the evening. It was already autumn. Five people came – both parents, older people, and their three children. The oldest boy was fourteen years old, the other two were younger. Some older son of their’s brought them, but he didn’t live with us. We hid them upstairs. Fisiel – the called him Fisiel... Fiszel or Fisiel [Fiszer]. They came from Wola Studzieńska, where they had lived earlier. Their father later built a house in Boża Wola and they moved into it in 1940. They were known to us and my brother took them in.

There wasn’t much to give them to eat, I didn’t want to, I was young. It was my onerous responsibility – keeping five people hidden upstairs in the straw. My father died in 1933 and mum died in 1940. I was thirteen at the time, my brother was nineteen, almost twenty. (...) We hid them upstairs... In the straw. There were sheaves there and we made a hole among them. I brought them food three times everyday. They didn’t want to eat because I used pork fat, but I didn’t have anything else, but that was their life.

The oldest son went off somewhere and didn’t come back. But, on the 5th January 1943, it was Epiphany, he returned. There were three of them. A heavy snow was falling, so when you walked, you would leave footprints. Three of them came – some young girl, I don’t know her name, their son and another Jew. Two strangers came. (...) All they said was, ”Good day” and those two men started working on a watch because it was broken. They sat at the table by the window and occupied themselves with the watch.

My brother watched what they were doing because he was interested. The Jewess began knitting a sweater. (...) I looked after myself and then later started cooking. I don’t know what they discussed with my brother, I was busy in the kitchen. When I looked through the window, I said,  ”So many people are heading this way!”

Poles from Kolonia Studzieńska were coming, mainly  peasants. I said,  ”Why are these peasants coming here?” They had already surrounded our home. There were ten of them, maybe more. They said to my brother, ”You’re hiding Jews!” They surrounded our home and came inside. After a few minutes, more peasants came from Boża Wola. We lived on a settlement, by the fields, behind the cemetery – there were only four homes there, our little settlement. And they started tossing the straw everywhere, looking for Jews. They were not in the house... Only those three.

When they found the Jews, they dragged them all into the house - children and parents. The Jews wanted to run away, but the peasants took to them with clubs – they didn’t have weapons, these peasants only had clubs. They yelled that my brother was a thief, a bandit, that he associates with Jews. He never had. At the time, the Germans had promised them two kilograms of sugar for every Jew. I don’t know if times were sweet for them, but for us they were not.

When they sent for a wagon from the police in Zakrzówka, the Jews wanted to run away. At that time, a funeral procession was coming from Wola Studzieńska. (...) I ran out of the house and three of the Jews escaped. They were the stronger ones, the young, two men and the girl. They began to run away. They headed for the neighbouring village. The men then raced off after them on the road to the fields. The girl fell, sagged, but the men picked her up. At that time, the funeral cortege of that grandfather came by and I mingled myself into it and left. I managed to tell my brother, ”Run away, because the Jews are running away, so you should run away too!” But he didn’t run away. I don’t know why not.

The men didn’t let him go. But I was young, I attached myself to that funeral and went to church. When my older sister found out, she ran over to the church and asked, ”What happened?”.

I said, ”They found the Jews”.

”Did Tadek run away?”.

”I don’t know if Tadek ran away.”

”Don’t return home, because they could destroy it. They could set it alight.”

I didn’t return. I didn’t see my brother again.

They probably caught the Jewess. Only two Jews escaped - Fisiel [Fiszer] and the other one. But the girl, the Jewess, maybe 16 or 17 years old, they caught her. My brother, as neighbours told me later, was chained to the fourteen year old Jew with handcuffs. The police came from Zakrzówka. They took the two older Jews away, the fourteen year old Jew with my brother chained to him and the two beautiful, little ones who had come on the morning of the 5th of January. The police from Zakrzówka took them off in a wagon.

The peasants went off, I don’t know to where. I kep myself completely hidden, because I was frightened. I didn’t see my brother being  taken away. Neighbours said that he was chained so he couldn’t escape. The peasants comforted him by saying that they would ransom him out. What a ransom they paid – absolutely nothing... They people who betrayed him to the Germans have already died. There was J.. There were many of them. But he was the one who yelled the loudest, had the biggest club and who stood at the door, refusing to allow anyone to leave.”.

05/01/1943: Julianna’s brother, Tadeusz Kędra, was incarcerated in Zamek prison in Lublin, where he died on 24/06/1943.

The interview with Julianna Wereska edited by M. Grudzińska and A. Marczuk is published here courtesy of the State Museum in Majdanek.

Bibliography

  • Madała K., Interview with Julianna Wereska, 13.01.1995