The Sokolowski Family

enlarge map

Story of Rescue - The Sokolowski Family

For nearly 2 years Aniela Radyszkiewicz née Wójcik hid 14 Jews in her house devoid of sewage system, electricity or running water. In September 1942, at the time of the ghetto liquidation in Włodzimierz Wołyński, she provided shelter for the Lichtensztajn family, the owners of the shop whom she had know from before World War II.

Thanks to her help they all managed to survive the war: Samuel Lichtensztajn, using the name of „Roman Zieliński”, also called “Rom”, his wife Samuela Brucha (Bronka), son Wolf (Wojtek), Brucha’s brother - Koka, Samuel’s sister - Chana (Hanka) Bitman and her husband, the married couple or siblings of the Tenenbaums, the siblings Basia and Icek (Ignac) Cimerman, Leon, Blima and two other young men. Most of the Jews remained under Radyszkiewicz’s protection until the liberation of the city by the Red Army on July 20, 1944.

The number of Jews accepted by Radyszkiewicz were gradually increasing. Initially, they hid at the attic and in the cellar used for storing potatoes. Next, they built a spacious bunker with a concealed entrance and a tunnel which the fugitives could use to escape to the garden in case of danger. Despite difficult living conditions, the Jews would only leave the hiding place one at a time at night to take a breath of fresh air.

Radyszkiewicz received the means of sustenance necessary to keep the Rescued alive from Lichtensztajn, but her main source of income was smuggling. She smuggled things with the help of Polish railroaders. Lichtensztajn often offered his advice concerning transactions and trade. However, as he was a well-known person in the town, he had to stay in Radyszkiewicz’s house.

Another person that helped Radyszkiewicz in those difficult times was her sister Maria Sokołowska née Wójcik together with her husband Władysław and their two children: Krystyna and Wiesław. They lived in the nearby village of Jungówka located in the county of Horochów.

Krystyna, who moved to Radyszkiewicz’s house in 1943, safely led out four of the hiding Jews and helped them to join the partisan forces. Her parents also helped to provide the Rescued with food, and since the spring of 1944 they also cooked, washed, removed insects and rubbish and watched over their security. Wiesław also played with the Lichtensztajns’ son - Wolf.

Ignoring the German regulation ordering the evacuation of the civil population in July 1944, Radyszkiewicz did not leave her protégés. She stayed with them in their hiding place until the time of liberation. In 1945 all of them were repatriated to Poland, from where most of the Jews departed for Germany, Israel or the USA.

The Lichtensztajns remained in contact with their protector, supporting her financially. After her death in 1970, they funded a tombstone with the inscription saying: “Here lies a woman who has saved 14 Jews”. In the 1990s, with the support of Wolf Lichtensztajn and Chana Bitman, Wiesław Sokołowski initiated solicitations for awarding Radyszkiewicz the honorary title of “Righteous Among the Nations”. He stayed in close contact with Wolf until as late as the year 2003.

Bibliography

  • Śliwowska Wiktoria, Czarny rok… czarne lata…, Warszawa 1996
    The collection of memories concerning the Holocaust, written by Jews and Poles; many stories concearn the hiding of Jews.
  • Stec Monika, Interview with Wiesław Sokołowski, 24.04.2009
  • Gutman Israel red. nacz., Księga Sprawiedliwych wśród Narodów Świata, Ratujący Żydów podczas Holocaustu, Kraków 2009