The Konieczny Family

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Story of Rescue - The Konieczny Family

During the German occupation, the Konieczny family in the small settlement of Dzierążnia, in the Działoszyce district. Maciej and Marianna, together with their four children, Piotr (Marianna’s son from her first marriage), Mieczysław, Honorata and Maria, ran a large 56 acre farm.

In November 1942, a Jewish shoemaker from Działoszyc, Chaim Frenkel, turned to the Konieczny family for help. Together with his son, Zelig (whom the Konieczny family called ”Zenek”) he had managed to avoid death during the first ghetto liquidation operation in September 1942. His wife Rywka (nee Lewkowicz) and his five younger children, Meir, Syma, Jakub, Kalman and Adela had perished. During the operation, around 2,000 Jews had been shot in the local Jewish cemetery. While around 10,000 had been transported to Miechów and, from there, to Bełżec. Chaim hid with his son in a hiding-place with the Konieczny family. But when he left it in 1943, he was shot.

The Konieczny did not refuse to help other Jews who came upon their home. In November 1942, Działoszyce baker, Symcha (Sidney) Olmer, together with his wife Lolą (Laja nee Ickowicz), sister Tobcia (Tola) and small son Lolek (Lejbusz), W listopadzie 1942 r. were hidden under their roof. From February 1943, they also hid Moniek and Mania Laufer from Łódż and Uszer (Aszer) Rafałowicz, who had lost his wife and children when their bunker had been discovered by chance. In mid-March 1943, the Konieczny family took in Taloa’s brother, Borys (Baruch) Ickowicz, a goldsmith from Działoszyce, who had lost his wife and child.

With the help of their children, Piotr, Mieczysław and Honorata, the Konieczny’s dug two hiding-places – one under the flor of their house and the other under the threshing floor of the barn. In the beginning, the accepted small amounts of money from the people they were hiding but, when the money ran out, they continued to help them until liberation in January 1943.

As Mieczysław Konieczny related in an interview for the Museum of the History of Polish Jews, his family was driven by sympathy for the fate of those who had been persecuted. ”We took they in for a short time”, he said. ”But later, they cried that they didn’t want to leave. What would you do? By that time, we’d decided that we would not give anyone up to a certain death”.

Thanks to the fact that it was a large farm on the outskirts of the village, the Konieczny family could feed those hidden by them. Honorata cooked for them and did their laundry, while her mother disposed of the waste from the hiding-places. Piotr brought them newspapers. The Konieczny family frequently hid other escapees from Działoszyce also. Despite taking great care, there were moments of danger, among them being a search by German police in the summer of 1943 - the result of information supplied by neighbours. Despite the dangers, the Konieczny never betrayed those in their care.

Nine Jews remained in the care of the Konieczny family until liberation in January 1945. For a short time, they returned to Działoszyce. From there, they left for Gliwice and later to Israel, the USA and Canada. They remained in close contact with the Konieczny family.

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Bibliography

  • Madajczyk Czesław, Polityka III Rzeszy w okupowanej Polsce, Warszawa 1970
  • Łuczak Czesław, Polityka ludnościowa i ekonomiczna hitlerowskich Niemiec w okupowanej Polsce, Poznań 1979
  • Gutman Israel red. nacz., Księga Sprawiedliwych wśród Narodów Świata, Ratujący Żydów podczas Holocaustu, Kraków 2009
  • Krzysztof Banach, Interview with Mieczysław Konieczny, 17.07.2010
  • Archiwum Żydowskiego Instytutu Historycznego, 349, 1019