The Stankiewicz Family
Story of Rescue - the Stankiewicz Family
Tadeusz Stankiewicz was nine-years-old when the War broke out. His father, a forester, persuaded the Germans to allow him to employ a group of Jews in his forestry work. Thanks to this, many were able to escape from the Opole Lubelskie ghetto.
In 1942, when deportation to the extermination camps began, over two hundred 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, create hiding places in barns, build granaries, cowsheds and pigeon houses, as well as to obtain food.
On one occasion, in the forest, Tadeusz came across the exhausted Szloma Szmulewicz (known as Jan), a fugitive from the labour camp in Józefów nad Wisła. The boys’ friendship continued until Szmulewicz died in 2007.
Tadeusz and his older sister, Barbara, were given the task of removing all traces left by the Jews in hiding, as well as to protect food transports. They also ensured that no one followed the messengers, who were sent from the forest hideouts. Still, the hideouts were denounced and the people, hiding in them, were murdered.
As Tadeusz recalled:
“From 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 to go to the 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 so he stayed.”
After the War, Tadeusz’s father was jailed for his involvement with the Home Army [AK]. Transported to Warsaw and brutally interrogated, he died after being pushed out of a prison window. The Security Authority [UB] claimed that his death was suicide. The family were not permitted to perform a proper burial.
- 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
The two-volume publication contains short biographies of Poles awarded the Righteous among the Nations medals.