The Sikora Family

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Story of Rescue - The Sikora Family

The Edelsteins were one of the four Jewish families living in the village of Stróża, in the Kraśnik county, Lubelskie province. Josek (Józef) and Rajzel (Róża) had five children from 4 to 8 years old: Srul (Izrael), Szlomo, Mania, Herszek (Herszel) and Mosio (Mojżesz?).

In the fall of 1942 their neighbor, the 18-year-old Edwarda Sikora from Kolonia Stróża, witnessed the liquidation of the ghetto in the nearby Kraśnik. Jews from this ghetto were deported to the extermination camp in Bełżec, some of them were shot at the local Jewish cemetery. She warned the Edelsteins, sensing they were also in danger.

The Jews then asked Edwarda’s parents, Karolina and Jan, who had a small farm in the village – to prepare a hiding place for them. From then on, the Sikoras were hiding all seven of them in a special bunker under one of the rooms of their house.

“We didn’t have the heart to […] chase them away. We just wanted them to live in peace, to stay with us, so they would survive. And so, month after month, week after week, we had to feed them for over two years” – recalls Edwarda Boś née Sikora in her interview for the Museum of the History of Polish Jews. She then talks about cases of Poles who murdered Jews hiding in nearby towns but also about gestures and acts of support.

The Sikoras took care of all the needs of the Edelstein family. Rajzel used to prepare meals for her family in the Sikoras’ kitchen. Edwarda was in touch with their friends in the ghetto. Thanks to the newspapers their hosts used to bring them, the hiding Jews kept trace of the situation on the front. The Sikoras’ house was robbed by partisans, who took some of the belongings of the hiding Jews, but they did not find their hiding place. The Sikoras were constantly afraid of the visits of their neighbors, as some of them were guessing that they were hiding Jews. Soon the hiding family was joined by two Jewish escapees from the Kraśnik ghetto: Jankiel (Jakub?) Erlich and Yehiel Rolnik. For a few months, the Sikoras were also hiding in their outbuildings Mosze Sabutek and his 8-year-old daughter.

Everyone sheltered by the Sikoras survived the Second World War. After the liberation in July 1944 the Edelsteins emigrated to Canada. They did not lose contact with the Sikoras. Towards the end of the forties, Jakub Erlich left to the US and Sabutek together with his daughter emigrated to Israel. Only Yehiel Rolnik suffered a terrible fate: he was probably murdered by some thugs after leaving his hiding place. The Sikoras did not avoid postwar anti-Semitism either, as their farm was robbed and set on fire.

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Bibliography

  • Sam Edelstein, Tzadikim in Sodom; Righteous Gentiles; Memoirs of a Survivor from World War II, Toronto 1990
  • Mańko Sławomir, Litwin Weronika, Kraśnik. Szlak chasydzki, Warszawa 2008
  • 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 Edwarda Boś, 26.09.2010
  • Archiwum Żydowskiego Instytutu Historycznego, 349, 1819