The Misztal family

enlarge map

Story of Rescue - The Misztal family

Józefa and Wincenty Misztal lived together with their son Stanisław in the village of Ruczynów where they ran a farm. During the occupation period, encouraged by their neighbour Józef Maślanka, they joined the Peasants’ Battalions.

In July 1942, Józef Maślanka referred to them three members of the Jewish Schmalholz family: Helena and her two sons, Szymon and Yehoshua. They were Maślanka's neighbours and friends before the war. Józef helped them flee the Busko-Zdrój ghetto. Józefa and Wincenty Misztal agreed to give them shelter. Stanisław Misztal recalled after the war: "My mum obtained identity documents for the three of them, for names of deceased members of our family." The men built an underground refuge for the safety of both those who were hiding and those who offered them protection. "We dug a hole in the ground, about 2 m deep, 1.5 m wide and 3 m long. The entrance to the refuge was through a canal in the house's cellar where we kept potatoes in the winter," Stanisław related. The shelter was meant to be used in case the Germans suddenly arrived for a search.

As the Schmalholzs had so-called "Aryan papers", the Misztals introduced them as their relatives. Ruczynów villagers did not suspect anything as Helena and her sons moved freely around the village, helped them with farm work and spent the nights at the Misztals' home. The two families lived together from July 1942 to August 1944. Shortly before the end of the occupation, when the Red Army offensive reached Szczucin and the surrounding area, the Schmalholzs decided to leave Ruczynów and headed west towards Lublin. They stayed there until the end of the war.

Yehoshua Schmalholz wrote after the war: "The Misztal family hid us completely selflessly for over 2 years, keeping perfect composure and demonstrating a heroic despise for death, which was the penalty for providing shelter to Jews, in the most dangerous moments such as German round-ups and pacifications in the Ruczynów area." The Schmalholzs did not stay in Poland and left for the U.S. through Germany. Both families stayed in touch.

Bibliography

  • Gutman Israel red. nacz., Księga Sprawiedliwych wśród Narodów Świata, Ratujący Żydów podczas Holocaustu, Kraków 2009
  • Archiwum Yad Vashem, M.31.2/7915
  • Archiwum Żydowskiego Instytutu Historycznego, Dział odznaczeń Yad Vashem. Dokumentacja sprawy Józefy i Wincentego Misztalów, 349/24/2331