The Kuras Family

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Story of Rescue - The Kuras Family

Karol Kuraś was a railman. Before the Second World War he had been working in France and Italy for many years. Afterwards, he returned to Lviv, Poland, together with his wife and three children. He built a house there. He bought building materials from Ms Pops, owner of a local wholesale company.

In the summer of 1941 the German army entered Lviv. The ghetto was founded. Ms Pops asked Zofia Kuraś to help her daughter Fania, her son-in-law Henryk and her grandson Marian. The young Joanna was intermediary in their talks. Her parents remained skeptical: “So I came home, and mommy says: »But do you know, what this means?«. And I say [about Marianek]: »Mommy, he’s so sweet, this fair-haired boy, he’s such a nice boy, I feel sorry for him«”.

Henryk Stalmeister together with his wife – already with Polish identity – left to work in a sawmill in the village of Tuchla. Marianek stayed in the house of the Kuraś family. He had a false certificate. For a few months in 1942 the Kuraś family also gave shelter to the brother and sister of Fania, Mundek and Róża. Marianek was probably sent back to the ghetto in March 1942. Two Ukrainian policemen came for him: he was denounced by his closest neighbor, who also was Ukrainian.

In the summer of 1942 Ms Pops asked the Kuraś family for help again: she asked them to pick Marianek up from the ghetto and to transport him to his parents in Tuchla. It was Joanna who decided to carry out this task. In Tuchla she met a few Jews hiding with false papers – among them was Ewa Raubvogel, who became her friend since that time. When she arrived to Tuchla, it turned out that Marianek went down with typhus. Joanna treated him. She also often transported letters and did the shopping for her Jewish acquaintances. In April 1944 the Germans were escaping from the Soviet Army. Hit squads of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA) operated in the area. The Stalmeisters, as Poles, were killed by the Ukrainians.

The Kuraś family left Lviv in 1946. Even today Joanna cries, whenever she thinks about the little Marianek: „To this day, I am so devoted, I would give my soul if only I could help someone. […] I feel so sorry for him […] today he would already be about 74 years old. If only he had survived”. 

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Bibliography

  • Archiwum Żydowskiego Instytutu Historycznego, 349, 1663
  • Maksimowska Agata, Interview with Joanna Błaś, 4.04.2009
  • Gutman Israel red. nacz., Księga Sprawiedliwych wśród Narodów Świata, Ratujący Żydów podczas Holocaustu, Kraków 2009