The Konieczny Family

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Story of Rescue - The Konieczny Family

During the period of German occupation, the Konieczny family lived in the Dzierążnia settlement of the Działoszyce council 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 Konieczny family called ”Zenek”, he had managed to avoid death during the first ghetto liquidation operation in September 1942. During that operation, his wife Rywka (nee Lewkowicz) and their five younger children, Meir, Syma, Jakub, Kalman and Adela had perished. Around 2,000 Jews had been shot in the local Jewish cemetery and around 10,000 had been transported to Miechów, and from there to the Bełżec extermination camp. At the outset, Chaim remained hidden together with his son but, when he left the Konieczny family hiding-place, he was caught and shot in 1943.

The Konieczny family did not refuse help to other Jews who happened to reach their home. In November 1942, Diałoszyc baker, Symcha (Sidney) Olmer, together with his wife Lola (Laja) (nee Ickowicz), his sister Tobcia (Tola) and small son Lolek (Lejbuś), found themselves under the Konieczny family’s care. From February 1943, they also hid Moniek and Mania Laufer from Łódż, and Uszer (Aszer) Rafałowicz, who had lost his wife and children when, by chance, their bunker had been discovered. Midway through March 1943, the Konieczny family also took in Tola’s brother Borys (Baruch) Ickowicz, a goldsmith from Działoszyc, who had also lost his wife and child.

With the help of the children, Piotr, Mieczysława and Honorata, the Konieczny family dug two hiding-places – under the floor of the home and under the dirt floor of the barn. Initially, they accepted small payments from seome of those hidden but, when the money ran out, they continued their assistance until liberation in January 1945. As Mieczysław Konieczny related in an interview for the Museum of the History of Polish Jews, his family had been driven by sympathy for the fate of those who were being persecuted. ”We took them in for a short time, he said, ”but later they began crying and didn’t want to leave. What were we to do?  So then we agreed to let them stay because I said that I would never let anyone go to their death”.

Due to the large farm, lying on the village outskirts, the Konieczny family managed to feed those hidden. Honorata did the cooking and laundry, while her mother emptied the waste bucket. Piotr brought them newspapers. Often, the Konieczny family also hid other Jewish escapees from Działoszyc. Despite taking great care, there were moments of danger, among them being a search by German police in the summer of 1943 as the result of  information provided by a neighbour. Despite the threats to themselves, the Konieczny family never gave up those who were in the care.

Nine Jews were under the diligent care of the Konieczny family until liberation in January 1945. For a while, they returned to Działoszyc and, from there, they left for Gliwice and then for Israel, the USA and Canada. They remained in close contact with the Konieczny family.