The Staszczak Family

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Story of Rescue - The Staszczak Family

Mościska is a small town located 28 kilometres east of Przemyśl, now in the Ukraine, but before the War it was in Poland. In 1939, Klara and Szulim Reches were awaiting the arrival of their second child. They ran a textile shop here and Szulim was also the co-owner of a mill.

Rozalia Staszczak and her children Kazimierz, Genowefa, Józef and Katarzyna, lived in the village of Parcelacja, a dozen or so kilometres away.

The Staszczak family bought fabric from the Reches family, while the Reches family bought vegetables from the Staszczak family.

Following the outbreak of War, Rozalia’s third daughter, Józefa, returned home. Threatened with transportation into deep inside the USSR, she fled her farm in Narutowicz, together with her four children (Jan, Jerzy, Józefa and Wiesława) to shelter with her mother.

The Germans occupied Mościska in 1941 and immediately began harassing the town’s Jewish population. After a certain time, deportations  of Jews began to the ghetto in Jaworow and to the Bełżec death camp. In 1942, shortly before the transportation of the town’s last remaining Jews, Klara Reches asked the Staszczak family to hide her family. Rozalia played the entire night before being certain and agreeing to help.

Apart from Klara and Szulim with their sons (Henryk and Marek), others also came to the Staszczak family – Klara’s brother and mother, together with the Mansfeld siblings, Benesz and Basia, the Reches’ neighbours.

A hiding place was set up in the barn. It was dug into the ground and well camouflaged. Those hidden remained there for 22 months. Theose hidden could only sit. Most of the time, they could not move around and could only speak in whispers. They were tormented by mice, ants and lice, as well as the smell emanating from the bucket which served as a toilet. Sometimes, the bottom of the hiding place was flooded with water. There were tensions and quarrels amongst those hidden.

Liberation took place in July 1944 when the Soviet army arrived in Parcelacja. After the War, the Staszczak family left for Poland amongst those who were repatriated. The Jews, however, settled in the USA. The Reches family remained in contact with Rozalia’s family over many years. 

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Bibliography

  • Gutman Israel red. nacz., Księga Sprawiedliwych wśród Narodów Świata, Ratujący Żydów podczas Holocaustu, Kraków 2009
  • Justyna Dedio, Interview with Józefa Guerer, Rozalia Staszczak's granddaughter, 5.08.2010
  • Archiwum Żydowskiego Instytutu Historycznego, 349, 1738