The Krokos Family

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Story of Rescue - The Krokos Family

Before the War, Teresa Ringler and her daughter, Anna, lived in the village of Głogowiec, in the Przeworsk District, where they ran a village farm. Katarzyna Krokos, single mother of Helena, helped them with the farm work.

In an interview with the Museum of the History of Polish Jews, Helena Haraś (nee Krokos) describes the situation that closing linked both families thus, ”We were close for many, many years. I was born and I lived there. They brought me up. When my mother went to work, they looked after me. It was like I was one of their own”.

A few months after the Germans entered, at the end of 1941, Teresa and her daughter were forced to move into the ghetto in nearby Sieniawa. Despite her own difficult material circumstances, raising her daughter  and son (Józef – born in 1941) alone, she visited Teresa and Anna in the ghetto, smuggling in food for them.

When rumours spread around the area of the planned mass execution of the Jews, Katarzyna decided to warn Teresa and her daughter. In fact, on 20th July 1942, the majority of the Jews in the Sieniawa ghetto were deported to the transit camp in Pełkinie, from where they were taken to the Bełżcu extermination camp. The remaining Jews in ghetto were shot in the local Jewish cemetery in May 1943. Most probably, in the summer of 1942, under cover of darkness, through a hole in the fence, Katarzyna led out, not only the two women, but also their relatives, Rachela Faust and her aunt, Fela Sznejbaum. She then crossed the San River with them, to reach Głogowiec, where she hid all of them in a house which she had rented. After several days, Rachela supplied with Helena Krokos’ baptismal certificate, left with her aunt. They survived the occupation in Kraków. Several weeks later, Aarmed with Katarzyna’s birth certificate, Anna also left Głogowiec and, finally, reported for forced labour in Germany.

Despite the constant threat which would trigger within Teresa Ringler periods of temporary insanity, she remained in the house with Katarzyna until liberation in July 1944. If was a miracle that both women had avoided death despite the suspicions of neighbours and the searches of the house by German military police and by members of the local volunteer fire service who, looking for Jews hidden in the house, even pulled up the floorboards.

All the women, who had been hidden by Katarzyna and Helena Krokos, survived the War and maintained contact by correspondence. They also sent their protectors parcels and provided them with small amounts of financial support. Following liberation, Teresa and Anna Ringler first went to Wałbrzych and then to Israel. Fela Sznajbaum and Rachela (Helena) Faust-Gruenfeld left for the USA.

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Bibliography

  • Pilichowski Czesław red., Obozy hitlerowskie na ziemiach polskich 1939-1945, Warszawa 1979
  • Gutman Israel red. nacz., Księga Sprawiedliwych wśród Narodów Świata, Ratujący Żydów podczas Holocaustu, Kraków 2009
  • Krzysztof Banach, Interview with Helena Haraś, 19.09.2010
  • Archiwum Żydowskiego Instytutu Historycznego, 349, 2016