The Ostrowski Family

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Story of Rescue - The Ostrowski Family

Upon the outbreak of the war, Marianna Ostrowska lived with her father Stanisław Wojaszko in Radawczyk near Bełżyce. Her mother Marianna Wojtaszko, née Bartoszcze had died shortly before the war, in April 1939. Marianna Ostrowska got married in 1942. She and her husband, Stanisław Ostrowski settled down near her parents and started building a house.

Jews who were hidden

Marianna remembers the persecution of Jews. She recounted that people of Jewish origin were regularly caught and killed, beginning in 1942 and continuing until the liberation in July 1944. A considerable number of these captives were shot in the synagogue in Bełżyce. The rest of them was driven to freight cars and transported to Lublin. Those who collapsed along the way or who attempted to escape, were shot. At the end of 1942, there were not many Jews in the area.

In that year, the Fersztman family: Mosze Fertszman, his daughter Masza, her husband Szlomo Goldiner and her brother, knocked on the door to Maria Ostrowska’s house. For a while, they hid in a haystack, but when it snowed, they had to move. At first, Marianna’s husband didn’t want to help them, but after a few days, they decided to do so. In their newly-built house, they dug a hole and arranged a hiding place.

They hid the Fersztman family, their uncle Szmul and a nephew Szol, his wife Hela and son Symek. Later, Szlomo from Łuck, joined them. He used to serve in the army with Mosze Fertszman, but because of his communist sympathies he didn't gain liking from the Ostrowski family. 

Hiding Jews

On May 29, 1943, they had to leave their hideout because a carpenter was to start work in the house. The Jews hid in the barn of Marianna Ostrowska’s father, and after a month, they moved back to Marianna’s house. They lived in the attic above the barn, until Fall, then they stayed in this basement hiding place.

Later, a young Jewish woman Masza and her father Berek Fersztman joined them. Masza had a little child, a girl named Hania, who was given to a Polish family in Bełżyce for the time being. The father left the hideout and soon was caught and killed. Masza also left the hideout, and also was caught (probably ending up in a concentration camp in Czechoslovakia) but she managed to survive the war. After the war ended in Israel, she gave birth to a son.

The other Jews eventually left the hideout on July 29, 1944.

After the war

Szol went to Paris with his wife Hela and son Symek. The rest went directly to Israel. They wrote letters, sent invitations and parcels with medicines. Marianna's family could not go for personal and later political reasons. Many years later, they met with Moszek who came to Lublin and then to Bełżyce.

In total, the Ostrowskis hid nine people. In November, 1992 they received the medal “The Righteous Among the Nations.”

The relation was recorded in the framework of the project "Lights In The Darkness - The Righteous Among The Nations", courtesy of the "Ośrodek Brama Grodzka - Teatr NN" in Lublin

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Bibliography

  • Dąbrowska Anna red., Światła w ciemności. Sprawiedliwi wśród Narodów Świata. Relacje, Lublin 2008
  • Czajkowski Tomasz, Interview with Marianna Ostrowska, 1.01.2007