The Skorulski Family

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Story of Rescue - The Skorulski Family

Leokadia Skorulska, her siblings and parents – Konstanty and Helena, lived in Zulów village, between two small towns – Podbrodzie and Święciony – 50 km from Vilnius. They owned a 15 ha farm.

Once a week, Konstanty used to go to Podbrodzie, where he met Jewish people. Before the war, one-third of the inhabitants were of Jewish faith.

Apart from working his own farm, Mr. Skorulski did some jobs for Boruch Szapiro – a wood trader from Podbrodzie.

Rescue

In November 1943, Boruch Szapiro asked the Skorulskis for help and shelter for himself and his family: his wife Zieda and their three daughters, Mirka, Lipka and Henia. Sixteen-year-old Leokadia was close to them in age.

The Skorulskis were faced with a hard choice. Yet, in spite of their fear, they decided to help those in need. For seven months, until May 1944, they gave shelter to five members of the Szapiro family. The latter were hidden in a cellar. Neither the neighbours, nor relatives ever knew about it.

The living conditions in the hideout were pretty awful: “it was a cellar, we stored potatoes in there; the potatoes didn’t get frozen, so people survived, too. Mother sometimes brought them some coal in a bucket. It was charcoal embers, and it warmed the place a little. But you couldn’t use much of it beacuse of the smoke. And there wasn’t much air, it was stuffy inside. It was really terrible, this”.

The Jewish family spent all day in their hideout. At night the Skrulskis let them into the house and they could bathe. Zieda Szapiro could then wash her family’s clothes.

Food

According to Leokadia, the family in hiding ate the same food as the Skorulskis. The meals were based on the staff grown on the farm. The hidden contributed to shopping: “he gave a little, they had some money”.

In spite of the extreme conditions, Zieda kept rules of kosher.

After the war

Soon after the war Boruch Szapiro saved Leokadia’s life, bringing her medicine that was very hard to get.

The Skorulskis moved to Starogard Szczeciński, since Konstanty was threatened with exile to Siberia.

After the war the Szapiros stayed for a while in Podbrodzie, then went to Israel. For some time they corresponded with the Skorulskis, but then the contact was broken. “All this got lost somehow, father couldn’t write and neither could my mum, and we came here, we were poor, we got jobs and nobody was interested” – explains the Righteous.

After she had got married, Leokadia lived in Cewlino village near Koszalin. Years later her husband found the Jews she and her family had helped and got in touch with them.

On Mirka’s invitation, Leokadia visited Israel and stayed there for 6 weeks. In 1994, in Szczecin, she was awarded with the medal of the Righteous Among the Nations. The medal had been posthumously awarded to the whole Skorupski family, except for the youngest children.

In 2000, Mirka came to Poland with her granddaughter, and Leokadia’s family accompanied them in their travels around the country. For years Mrs. Gaweł kept in touch with Mirka through the phone, but then Mirka changed her phone number, and since her family do not speak Polish, the contact ended.

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Bibliography

  • Kamiński Łukasz Stopa Zofia, Interview with Leokadia Gaweł, 1.05.2009