The Pac Family

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Story of Rescue - The Pac Family

During World War II, Maria and Stanisław Pac and their sons Jerzy, Andrzej and Stefan lived in Życzyn near Dęblin. Stanisław was the owner of a mill and a social activist. Maria Pac worked as a teacher. Her brother, Rev. Kazimierz Wasiak, lived in Warsaw in the presbytery of the church in Kamionek area. The Pac family and Rev. Kazimierz Wasiak rescued two Jewish families – the Śmietanowski and the Rybakowski families.

In the spring of 1940, a distant cousin of Maria Pac arrived in Życzyn – Józef Śmietanowski. He asked her to help and hide his family: his wife Irena and children – Stefan and Aleksandra. In June of the same year, the four of them moved to Życzyn. They were introduced to the neighbors as the Pacs' cousins. The Śmietanowskis did not arouse anybody’s suspicions about their Jewish origin. Józef Śmietanowski helped in the mill of Stanisław. After his tragic death on February 1942, when he was murdered, his family had to subsist on the sole help of the Pac family.

In the same year, Życzyn was visited by the commanding officer of the criminal police in Dęblin, searching for the Jewish family in hiding. Stanisław managed to convince him that his investigation in Życzyn was a red herring: if somebody from the village was hiding a Jew, Stanisław would surely know about it. The next day, the Pacs transported Irena Śmietanowska and her children to Warsaw to the church in Kamionek area. Rev. Wasiak prepared for them a hiding place in the presbytery. They stayed there until 1943. Later, the Śmietanowski family returned to Życzyn, where they lived to see the end of the war.

At Rev. Wasiak’s request, also Maria and Katarzyna Rybakowska found shelter in the Pac family. They stayed in Życzyn from 1943 until the time of liberation. After the war, both women emigrated to Argentina. The Śmietanowski family returned to Warsaw. To this day, the descendants of that family have maintained close contact with the Pac family.

Bibliography

  • Gutman Israel red. nacz., Księga Sprawiedliwych wśród Narodów Świata, Ratujący Żydów podczas Holocaustu, Kraków 2009
  • Archiwum Żydowskiego Instytutu Historycznego, Z-3006
  • Archiwum Yad Vashem