The Podsiadło family

enlarge map

Story of Rescue - The Podsiadło family

Kurt Ticho, an almost thirty year old Jew from Czechoslovakia, was deported from his hometown, Boskovice, to the ghetto of Terezín on 15 March 1942. From there, two weeks later, he was sent to a transit ghetto in Piaski, Lublin area. "Imprisoned in the Piaski ghetto, I worked with a group of 20 men and women at an estate in the village of Siedliszczki, 3 km of Piaski. In Siedliszczki, I met Mr Stanisław Podsiadło, his wife Anna and daughter Teodora," he recalled years later.

Since July 1942, Kurt started working for Anna and Stanisław Podsiadło as a farm worker. He did not go back to the ghetto at that time. "I did not have to worry about my next meal, and what is most important, I was treated with respect and dignity, like a family member." He stayed with them until the end of October 1942, when the German Nazis ordered all Jews working outside the ghetto to return to that quarter. The Podsiadło family offered Kurt to hide at their place to wait and see what happens. But Kurt did not want to put his own life and that of the Polish family at risk and went back to the Piaski ghetto. A few days later, Stanisław dropped him some food – potatoes and lard – in the ghetto.

In November 1942, the Piaski ghetto was liquidated and Kurt was deported to the extermination camp of Sobibór where he was selected for the so-called Sonderkommando group. He stayed there until 14 October 1943, when a revolt broke out in the camp. He was one of the 200 people who managed to flee.

After a night in the forest, he set off to the Podsiadłos' house where he expected finding shelter. "I reached their house by sunset on Monday 18 October 1943. I entered their small front yard and waited for Mr Podsiadło, who was doing his daily round of the farm. [...] I whispered "Master", which is what I usually called him. He recognised me immediately in the dark. He asked me where I came from, and I said I came to ask him to save my life," Kurt related after the war.

Stanisław took him to the stable where he could stay overnight and brought him a blanket. Kurt spent the first week hidden in the straw, and later moved to the pigsty loft. He stayed there until the end of the occupation, without leaving his shelter at all for safety reasons. Members of the Podsiadło family brought him meals, helped him keep his personal hygiene and washed his clothes. Teodora, Anna's and Stanisław's daughter, warned him of any possible threats. As Kurt emphasised, he managed to make it through the occupation "due to their selfless dedication and an innate belief, which formed part of their nature, that every person has an absolute right to freedom and life, despite the horrifying risk of being discovered by the Germans, which would have certainly led to death."

After the war, Kurt Ticho came back to his hometown, and later emigrated to the U.S. He stayed in touch with the Podsiadło family.

Bibliography

  • Gutman Israel red. nacz., Księga Sprawiedliwych wśród Narodów Świata, Ratujący Żydów podczas Holocaustu, Kraków 2009
  • Archiwum Yad Vashem, M.31.2/3422
  • Archiwum Żydowskiego Instytutu Historycznego, Dział odznaczeń Yad Vashem. Dokumentacja sprawy Teodory Kobyłeckiej z d. Podsiadło, 349/24/461