The Stankiewicz Family

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Story of Rescue - The Stankiewicz Family

Tadeusz Stankiewicz was 9 years old when the war broke out. His father, a forester, persuaded the Germans to allow him to employ a group of Jews for forestry work. This enabled many to escape the ghetto in Opole Lubelskie. When deportation to extermination camps began in 1942, over 200 people went into hiding in the area around the Stankiewicz’s forest lodge. Tadeusz’s parents, Stanisław and Barbara, helped the Jews to build bunkers in the forest, make hideouts in barns, build granaries, cowsheds, and pigeon houses, and also to obtain food. On one occasion, Tadeusz came across the exhausted Szloma Szmulewicz (known as Jan), a fugitive from a labour camp, in the forest. The boys’ friendship continued until the death of Jan in 2007.

 Tadeusz and his older sister, Barbara, were given the task of getting rid of all traces left by the Jews in hiding, as well as to protect food transport, and ensure that no one followed the messengers sent from the forest hideouts. Still, the hideouts were denounced and the people hiding in them were murdered.

“Out of that entire operation, only six people were saved. All of whom simply left. I don’t know, maybe they couldn’t stand the shock. Only Jan remained, even at the cost of splitting up with his fiancee. She wanted him to go west, but he said: ‘No. My family died here. I don’t know where they are buried, or if their ashes are in Majdanek or in Treblinka. And besides, I already have a second family who took care of me and I’m not going to leave. I won’t leave Poland.’ And he stayed.”

After the war Tadeusz’s father was put in jail for his involvement with the Home Army. Transported to Warsaw and brutally interrogated, he died after being pushed out of a prison window. The Security Office claimed his death was suicide. The family were not allowed a proper burial. 

Bibliography

  • Maślak Magdalena, Interview with Tadeusz Stankiewicz, 7.03.2009
  • Berenstein Tatiana, Shmuel Krakowski red., Israel Gutman red. serii, The Encyclopedia of the Righteous Among the Nations. Rescuers of Jews during the Holocaust, Poland, Jerusalem 2004
    The two-volume publication contains short biographies of Poles awarded the Righteous among the Nations medals.