The Kotarski Family

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Story of Rescue - the Kotarski Family

The Rescuers

(My name is) Alicja Kowalczyk, born on 1st October 1941 in Kolonia Klimusin, 6 kilometres from Piaski. My mum's name is Weronika Kotarska, my father Jan Kotarski. They were both born in 1903.

Those in Hiding

(Her name was) Henia Szweryn. At that time, she was around sixteen years old - from her appearance, that what my parents thought. She spoke Polish.

(Whoi she was), that I don't know. Was she a friend of sorts? Certainly she was known by sight, but was not a close contact. Later, even when her father came, he was so secretive. My father told him that he was like that and wasn't she his daughter? He denied it, then admitted it.

The Story of Hiding

My parents said that it was a heavy winter with severe frosts, and she was hidden amongst the straw in the barn because there was nowhere else. A hole was dug out of the straw where she was to hide. And there she hid.

People would come to our home, so we couldn't keep her inside. Somehow, she survived. My father says that he wasa often in fear of the severe frosts, with her there in the straw. He feared that it would kill her, that she would freeze to death. Early in the mornings, he would go to the barn and open the hole to check if she still lived. She looked whole and healthy. 

On leaving, she left a letter with us - a letter to her family. (Her) father came later, after she had left. When my father showed him that letter, then he confessed. He was sorry and in despair that he had been so stupid that he had not admitted to being her father. Perhaps now he may never see her again. And probably he never saw her again. 

In her letter she wrote that God wanted it that way and that (my) father had been so kind, had taken her in and had cared for her. Maybe that speaks for itself.

After the War

My parents directed her in some direction when she left. She didn't know where to go or what to do. For some Pole, she left to work in Germany, as a Polish woman. My mum taught her how to pray. She wanted to be baptised, but my parents would not do that, because Piaski was six kilometres away and dangerous to fool around with a Jewish girl. She was not baptised by my parents. Dad said, "My God help her to survive. Let her prosper there.”

Our neighbours knew nothing.

Correspondence

She had sent a letter. She went to Germany and later to France. She writes that she is doing well. But my father, maybe out of fear perhaps, didn't contact her. Later, he found out that (her) father and brother had perished in Trawniki.

I wasn't interested in any of this because I was a child. Later, I didn't care much about it. Then, by accident, I found that letter. My parents had died and when I was collecting their books, I came across that letter. Now, we thought, maybe we should send it somewhere. Now they are talking about the Righteous, and now it turns out that ...

This story comes from the collection of the Ośrodka „Brama Grodzka – Teatr NN” in Lublin. It was registered as part of the "Light in the Darkness - the RIghteous Among the Nations" project.

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Bibliography

  • Wejman Wioletta, Interview with Alicja Kotarska, a daughter of Jan and Weronika Kotarscy, 1.01.2007