The Pawlak Family

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Story of Rescue - The Pawlak Family

Bronisława Barszczewska and Elka Bron were friends since childhood – their families used to be neighbors on Szewska Street in Lublin. Bronisława married Stefan Pawlak and moved to the village of Olszanka near Lublin. Elka settled in the nearby Bychawa in the Lublin district where her husband Menachem (Mordka) Bron was running a textile shop. The women were in close contact until the outbreak of the Second World War.

When the Nazis started to liquidate the Bychawa ghetto in October 1942, the Brons together with their sons Icchak and Mosze managed to escape and hide in the forest. In December 1942 Elka reached the farm of the Pawlaks in Olszanka, asking Bronisława for help. In spite of the risk herself and her family had to run, Bronisława agreed to take the Brons in for a while. However, the Bron family stayed at the house of the Pawlaks until the end of the war. Their hosts took care of them the best they could.

The whole Pawlak family used to take care of Elka, her husband and sons. Stanisław – a member of the Peasants’ Battalions (the so-called Peasants’s Battalions, Bataliony Chłopskie, were a Polish resistance movement and partisan organization during the Second World War) – prepared for them a hiding place under the flooring of the barn. Bronisława and her mother-in-law Antonina would cook in separate pans, so that the Jews could still eat kosher. The daughter Jadwiga used to bring to the barn the meals and books from their home library, hiding them in a bucket. The isolation of Olszanka, a village surrounded by woods, was favorable for keeping everything secret. The hiding Jews were able to leave their hiding place at night and to walk around the garden.

The Brons stayed on the farm of the Pawlak family until the liberation in July 1944. After the war, they moved to Lublin and settled on Lubartowska Street. When Jadwiga came to Lublin to attend school, she stayed at the Brons’ until they left Poland. In 1945 the Brons emigrated to Israel and then to the United States. The only living members of the Pawlak and Bron families – Jadwiga and Icchak – are in close contact to this day.

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Bibliography

  • Pilichowski Czesław red., Obozy hitlerowskie na ziemiach polskich 1939-1945, Warszawa 1979
  • Madajczyk Czesław, Polityka III Rzeszy w okupowanej Polsce, Warszawa 1970
  • Gutman Israel red. nacz., Księga Sprawiedliwych wśród Narodów Świata, Ratujący Żydów podczas Holocaustu, Kraków 2009
  • Krzysztof Banach, Interview with Jadwiga Pędrak, 22.08.2010