The Kuczynski Family

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Story of Rescue - The Kuczynski Family

Josef Wiederman was born in 1923 and grew up in Tarnopol, where his family owned a grocery store at 17 Lwowska Street. The Kuczyński family, who were farmers from the village of Poczapińce situated 7 kilometers from Tarnopol, were their customers. When the Soviet army started to occupy the city in 1939, Julia Kuczyńska joined the Wiederman family and took up a job in a local restaurant.

In 1941, two days after the Nazi army marched into Tarnopol, the massacre of the Jewish population started in the city, lasting over a week. In July of the same year the Nazi set up a ghetto in Tarnopol. Julia provided its inhabitants with food, and later also organized their escapes, which was possible thanks to the help of a network of chauffeurs who drove the Jews to work.

In the spring of 1943, Julia organized the escape of 19-year-old Josef Wiederman. The Kuczyńskis hid him in a hiding place in the barn. “My father was just this kind of man, and we all were – we just could not turn him out. After all, he was… a human” – explains Stefania. Josef stayed with the Kuczyński family until the moment when the Soviet army once more took over the city in April 1944.

“When those Russians came to the city again, my mommy prepared hot water for him. He washed himself. We were really afraid. We told him: »Now go«. We gave him a bag full of food, fed him and then said: »Go now, and do not tell anybody that we have been hiding you«. This was because we were so scared. We were afraid of our own shadows – they murdered anybody who was helping Jews.”

In his written report the Rescued wrote: “Let me state with my clear conscience that dozens of Jews owe their lives to these Rescuers – the Kuczyński family from Poczapińce.”

After World War II Wiederman emigrated to Australia. Nevertheless, all the time he maintained contact with the Rescuers, even after they were deported to the village of Głubczyce in Opolszczyzna located in the so called Recovered Territories.

  

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Bibliography

  • Archiwum Żydowskiego Instytutu Historycznego, 301, 1708
    Frank Willner's account
  • Mojkowski Karol, Interview with Stefania Kleszcz, 21.04.2009