Mikołajków Family

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Story of Rescue - Mikołajków Family

Leszek Mikołajków, together with his parents Aleksander and Leokadia, lived in Dębica.His father was a doctor.When the ghetto had been created, the man began to sympathize with Jews. He offered a job to 13-year-old Efraim Reich and employed him in a local health care management office, which he ran by himself. Efraim worked there as a messenger. Aleksander also supported the boy's parents, who lived in the ghetto.His two sons, Leszek and Andrzej, took part in their father's helping activity as well.

In July 1942, the Nazi initiated a liquidation action in the ghetto. To save their lives, the family of Chaskiel Reich, who was Efraim’s father, came to the doctor asking him for help. With his consent, the Jews hid at the attic of Mikołajków’s house. When the liquidation action was over, they returned to the ghetto, by this time transformed into the labor camp. A similar situation took place in November 1942. The day before the next liquidation action was to be launched, the Reich family, notified by dr. Mikołajków about the impending danger, found shelter at the attic of the garage adjoining the doctor’s house and in the cellar below the garage. For 9 months the group of 13 Jewish fugitives stayed in this hiding place, living in very difficult conditions. They lived in complete darkness, because, fearing denunciation, they did not dare to use the light. In the summer of 1943, when the Gestapo police was to adapt the garage for their own needs, the Jews were transported to another place, this time to the house of Józef Kurzyna. They stayed there under the protection of the Mikołajków family until Dębica was taken up by the Red Army on August 20, 1944.

Unfortunately, dr. Mikołajków lost his life on the day of the city liberation when giving first aid to the injured. After leaving Poland and during their stay in a resettlement camp in Austria, the family of the Reichs started to support their former rescuers by sending them various means of livelihood. They continued their support after settling down in the USA.

At the time of World War II, Leszek Mikołajków was a small boy. Nevertheless, he actively helped his parents, which was often easier for him than for adults. First, he carried food, medicines and messages to the ghetto; next, he began to deliver food to the hiding place.“I have the impression that at my age such an activity seemed like a great fun to me.This is because I was too young to be afraid, I think” – admits Leszek in his interview for the Museum of the History of Polish Jews.  In 1980, dr. Mikołajków (posthumously) and his wife Leokadia were awarded the title of “Righteous Among the Nations” by Yad Vashem in Jerusalem.In 1989, their sons were equally recognized by the Jewish Institute.

To this day, only two persons out of the Reich family are still alive. They live in New York and Jerusalem. One of them is Efraim Reich, who became a rabbi in the New York City’s borough of Brooklyn. Leszek Mikołajków maintains close contacts with the two Reichs, as well as with numerous descendants of the family’s senior, Chaskiel Reich.

Bibliography

  • Gutman Israel red. nacz., Księga Sprawiedliwych wśród Narodów Świata, Ratujący Żydów podczas Holocaustu, Kraków 2009