The Romański family

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Story of Rescue - The Romański family

The Romański family lived in Bochnia during the German occupation. In 1941, Gutfreund, a farmer and their friend, asked them to take control over his farm as appointed administrators. The two families had been friends even before the war and what happened at the beginning of the occupation strengthened their bond even further. At the time, the sons of Maria Romańska - Jakub and Józef - made friends with Maks Selinger, Gutfreund’s son-in-law. Shortly before the outbreak of the war, the Selinger family came to Bochnia from Leipzig where they ran a fur warehouse. A ghetto was created in Bochnia in April 1941. The Gutfreund and Selinger families moved to the ghetto. Jakub Romański stayed in touch with them and traded various articles they transferred to him. In time, he would even go to Cracow in order to sell a particularly valuable object.

In 1942, before the deportation of Jews from Bochnia to a death camp, Maks Selinger came to the Romański family and proposed that they create a network for transporting people to Hungary. Selinger worked at the ghetto as a member of Jewish policing services. He had already heard rumours regarding the fate of Jews taken away from other ghettos in the area and he was sure that he would be killed if he were to remain where he was.

Apart from the Romański family, the network comprised two truck drivers, two guides and a forger of documents. It was possible to smuggle six to eight people at one time. The route of transportation to Hungary via Slovakia led through Osielec and Piwniczna. After the war, Jakub Romański recalled: “While it is true that the transportation of people to Hungary was organised in its entirety by Max Selinger, I can say with a clear conscience that I helped him a great deal. [...] I communicated with him when he was in the ghetto and then he lived with us. It was I who travelled to set everything in order with the guide, that is, I defined and handled dates when a given group was to depart, dates when and venues where people were to be collected at the border, means of transport, pilots transporting people to the necessary spot, and fake documents”.The Romański family had created a special hideout at their house for fugitives from the ghetto where such people could wait until they were to be transported.

After Selinger himself had been evacuated, the Romański family continued transporting people. The Gestapo soon learned that people were being smuggled across the border. They came to arrest the Romańskis. However, only Maria had lived at their family home at that time. She was taken away. She was to be released only if Jakub Romański came to the Gestapo station in Bochnia. The woman was set free after three days thanks to a considerable bribe.

The Romański family continued helping Jews in Warsaw. Leon Borudzki worked together with them. In October 1943, they themselves had to move to Hungary to remain safe. They only returned to Poland close to the middle of 1945.

After the end of WWII, the saved people left for Israel and other countries. The Romański family maintained contact mostly with Leon Borudzki.

Other Stories of Rescue in the Area

Bibliography

  • Gutman Israel red. nacz., Księga Sprawiedliwych wśród Narodów Świata, Ratujący Żydów podczas Holocaustu, Kraków 2009
  • Archiwum Żydowskiego Instytutu Historycznego, Dział odznaczeń Yad Vashem. Dokumentacja sprawy Jakuba Romańskiego, 349/24/1189