The Linkiewicz family

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Story of Rescue - The Linkiewicz family

During the war, the Linkiewicz family lived in a small village of Hinkowice near Tłuste (Zaleszczyki County, Tarnopolskie Province). Antoni worked as a farmer, but before the war he had also been employed in a company owned by Izaak Merdinger. The two men were acquaintances, so, during the occupation, Antoni's former employer and his family found shelter in the Linkiewicz household.

Between 1942 and March 1944, the Linkiewicz family rescued four members of the family of Izaak Merdinger, two Schechner brothers, Oskar Schechner and his son Gabriel and sisters Hinda and Klara Spektor (with her husband Markus), as well as Maksymilian and Róża Lerer with their daughter Dora. In total, 14 people found shelter in Antoni and Genowefa's house.

Anna Bujnowska, Antoni's daughter, said: “Before we made the decision together, our father told us to make a vow – we were not to turn in the Jews hiding in our house even if our lives depended on it.”

A special underground hiding place with reinforced walls was dug out to accommodate the Jews. Inside, there were wooden bunk beds with straw mattresses, cooking equipment and lighting. The hiding Jews collected money in order to buy food for such a big group of people. Together with the Linkiewicz family, the members of the Doliński family also took active part in helping the Jews.

Linkiewicz provided the Jews with food and newspapers, which allowed them to be at least partially up to date with the events happening on the war fronts. Oskar Schechner had a diary where he described the everyday life in hiding and the help provided by the Linkiewicz family.

Each member of the Polish family had a different assignment. Antoni was responsible for providing food, the children – Sławomir and Anna – for collecting wood, and their stepmother Genowefa – for cooking and collecting information on German activities in the village. Moreover, Anna and Genowefa took turns to prepare meals, look out for the hiding and warn everyone about Ukrainians inspecting houses.

After the war, Anna Bujnowska said that one time, Germans and Ukrainian nationalists came into her house looking for Jews. The members of the family were tortured by the Ukrainians and asked to reveal the location of their hiding spot. They tortured Anna by, among others, putting red hot iron items on her skin. Nonetheless, the family did not denounce the Jews, who survived until the end of the war. In 1944, once the occupation ended, Genowefa and Sławomir (referred to as 'Jarosław' in some reports) were killed by Ukrainian nationalists for helping Jews. The saved Jews moved to Israel and the USA. Anna Bujnowska kept in touch with those who migrated to the U.S.

Bibliography

  • Gutman Israel red. nacz., Księga Sprawiedliwych wśród Narodów Świata, Ratujący Żydów podczas Holocaustu, Kraków 2009
  • Archiwum Żydowskiego Instytutu Historycznego, Dział odznaczeń Yad Vashem. Dokumentacja sprawy Anny Bujnowskiej, 349/24/1239