The Kmieć Family

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Story of Rescue - The Kmieć Family

Brzeżany, a city of the former Tarnopolskie province, found itself in German hands in June 1941. From the moment, the Nazis destroyed the local Jewish population there repeated mass executions.

Piotr Kmieć, togther with his wife Anna and daughters Stefania and Franciszka, ran a farm in the nearby village of Kuropatniki. He knew many Jews from the small town. When round-up’s took place in the ghetto, some of them, among others, Rywka Fogelman and Gizia Beresz and her nephew, waited out the worst of it in the attic of Piotr’s home. After everything was over, they returned to the ghetto.

During the last of the liquidation operations in 1943, seven people came to the Kmieć family - Szymon Fogelman with his wife and their children, Welwel, Mendel (or Menachem), Rywka, as well as Róża Rotta, her son Menachem (known as ”Mundek) and daughter Rena. The ghetto had been liquidated and they had nowhere to return to.

The farmers decided to take in the fugitives. At first, the hid them in the attic and then in a hiding place arranged in the basement of the house. They had taken on the additional responsibility of supporting these people.

In the spring of 1944, Piotr perished during an attack on the village by Ukrainian nationalists. Caring for the fugitives fell upon the shoulders of Anna and her two teenage daughters. Additional difficulties were presented by the presence of new lodgers – officers of the retreating German army. Their presence made contact with, and providing food for, those in hiding almost impossible. The Jews also had to close off any ventilation into their hiding place in order for their voices, coming from the basement, not to betray their presence. Anna and her daughters were incredibly scared of any slip-up’s, but the Germans were too preoccupied with their retreat to notice anything

Soon after the War, the Jews moved to Brzeżany. Stefania visited them there. They soon left for Israel, while their hosts went to Poland. For many years, they lost contact with each other. In 1991, the Kmieć family managed to locate Menachem Katz.  

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Bibliography

  • Gutman Israel red. nacz., Księga Sprawiedliwych wśród Narodów Świata, Ratujący Żydów podczas Holocaustu, Kraków 2009
  • Czyżewska Małgorzata, Interview with Franciszka and Stefania Rokosz, 18.07.2010
  • Archiwum Żydowskiego Instytutu Historycznego, 349, 1976