The Szajner Family

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Story of Rescue - The Szajner Family

Józef Szajner was born in 1931 in Pawłów near Chełm. During the war, he and his parents, Marianna and Władysław Szajner, hid a Jewish family, whose surname was Nysenkorn.

Jews who were hidden

Mr. Szajner recounts how in 1943 the Nazis ordered all the local Jews to gather in the town square. There were not too many Jews in Pawłów, when compared with the neighboring villages, however he has also seen these killed from another village, Rejowiec. Those of the Jews from Pawłów, who came were taken to Sobibór, or killed right away. About 20 people were shot dead on the spot.

Józef’s family helped Jankiel Nysenkorn’s family, the only Jewish family that survived Shoah in Pawłów, because only they didn’t show up upon the German order. The Szajners and the Nyskenkorns knew each other and were already friends before the war began. Józef’s father and Mr. Nysenkorn traded pottery together.

They hid three people: Jankiel, his wife and their son, Juh, who in Polish was called Henryk (Henio). At first, shortly, there was also another member of the Nysenkorn family, who was probably called Fisiel.

Hiding Jews

Mr. and Mrs. Szajner hid the Jews in the attic in their barn. The Łukaszewski family also helped them. For two years, until the Red Army came, the Jews lived at Szajner's place, and sometimes in Łukaszewski’s dug-out.

He recounts how one of the Jews went out at night and came across a local gang. They shot at him, but he survived. They missed him by a hair’s breadth – he had two holes in his jacket.

Jankiel had a small child. The boy was 9-months-old when they came, so it was unlikely he could survive the winter in their hiding. Eventually, the child was handed to a friend, Mr. Korchut, who had a numerous family. However, one of his neighbors noticed the child, and informed the Germans about it. The child had been already killed when the Nazis came, so the family survived, when they showed the burial place. However, Mr. Korchut was beaten almost to death by the Germans.

After the war

Just before the liberation, Pawłów was bombarded. Fortunately, they all survived. Also Jankiel’s sister managed to save her life. During the wartime, she was minding the cows of another farmer from their neighborhood, Mr. Krzyżanowski or somebody else - Mr. Szajner can't remember it well.

The rescued Jews left Poland about 1960, after having lived in Chełm. They emigrated to Israel. They are in touch with Józef, and a few years ago, they visited him. They also came to Mr. Łukaszewski’s daughter’s wedding, recently.

Mr. Szajner went to Israel at their invitation, too.

The Szajner family received the medal “The Righteous Among the Nations.” At first, it was awarded to Józef’s parents, but Jankiel’s son, Henryk, was of the opinion that also Józef contributed crucially to their rescue, so two years later Yad Vashem decided to award the Medal also to him.

The Łukaszewskis also received the Medal.

The relation was recorded in the framework of the project "Lights In The Darkness - The Righteous Among The Nations", courtesy of the "Ośrodek Brama Grodzka - Teatr NN" in Lublin


  • Archiwum Żydowskiego Instytutu Historycznego, 349, 2300
  • Kawa Magdalena, Interview with Józef Szajner, 14.12.2007
  • Gutman Israel red. nacz., Księga Sprawiedliwych wśród Narodów Świata, Ratujący Żydów podczas Holocaustu