The Szczebunski Family

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Story of Rescue - The Szczebunski Family

Eddie Weinstein was born in 1924 in Łosice as Jehuda Jakub (Idel), the son of Uszer, a tradesman, and Lea (nee Brukman, born 1894). During the War, together with his whole family, he ended up in the ghetto (established in 1941). On 22nd August 1942, on the day of the ghetto’s liquidation, he was transported to the Treblinka death camp together with his mother and brother, Izrael (born 1925). He was allocated to a work group which sorted items taken from Jews. He spent seventeen days in the camp.

On the 9th September, shot in the chest by an SS-man, he escaped from the closely-guarded camp. His brother helped Eddie to escape, hiding him in a transport full of clothes. Izrael and Lea were murdered.

Eddie reached the labour camp in Siedlce, where his father was and, from there, returned to his home town. At the time, there was a so-called small ghetto in Łosice, established in one of the tenements following the liquidation of the Jewish district. It contained 30-40 surviving Jews. Soon after, Uszer returned from Siedlce and both men left Łosice. By the autumn, that small ghetto no longer existed.

The Weinsteins, together with a friend, Berek Goldberg, sheltered with a Polish family but, after a short time, they no longer agreed to hide the runaway Jews. Then, in December 1942, at the suggestion of his father, Eddie went to Gabryel Szczebuński, requesting his help. Uszer had had business contact with him previously. Gabryel Szczebuński lived with his wife, Helena, on the Woźniki estate (in the Łosice District), where he was the administrator of fish ponds.

When Helena caught sight of Eddie on her farm, she crossed herself. She said that she had dreamt of his mother who had asked her to help her children. Thanks to that, Gabryel, who at first was afraid to provide them with shelter, showed them a place where the Jews could construct a hiding place for themselves.

On 19th December, Eddie and Berek dug out a bunker in an unused area of the fish farm. Soon after, a friend from Łosice, Hirsz Wiór, joined them. The men obtained their food from Helena Biernacka, who lived nearby. ”To be precise, we owe our lives to her and to the Szczebuński family”, wrote Eddie Weinstein in his memoirs.

Uszer, Eddie and Hirsz remained in their hiding place until the end of the War which, in that area, came on 31st July 1944. The day before the Soviet Army entered, Berek Goldberg perished at the hands of German soldiers.

In September 1944, Eddie Weinstein enlisted in the Polish Army and fought in Germany. In 1949, the Weinstein family emigrated to the United States, while the Szczebuński family moved to Szczecin. The families maintained contact until the death of Gabryel Szczebuński in the 1960’s.

Bibliography

  • Eddie Weinstein, 17 dni w Treblince, Łosice 2008