The Szlama Family

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Story of Rescue - The Szlama Family

The Szlama family had a farm in the village of Cykarzew. Although no Jews had lived in their immediate vicinity, some several thousand Jews lived in the nearby city of Częstochowa. On 9 April 1941, a ghetto was created there, and some 50,000 Jews were locked inside. The dissolution of the ghetto began on 22 September 1942 when most of its inhabitants were deported to death camps.

On Christmas Eve 1942, two Jews, 50-year-old Mosze Lichter and his 20-year-old cousin Mordechaj, knocked on the Szlamas’ door. Few months prior to that, both men had escaped from a transport to Treblinka, and from that time on they wandered in the forests. They were emaciated and freezing. Stanisława, the Szlamas’ daughter, remembered well the men’s beards covered in long icicles.

The Szlamas took in the escapees. Some time later, they also provided shelter to two young women, Rózia and Czesława, the Lichters’ cousins. The four of them hid together – in the cellar during the winter and in the attic in the barn during the summer.

The four of them rarely left their hiding places, although the Szlamas tried to find them various tasks in the forest or at the house, so that they felt useful. “Daddy feared that they could lose their minds in the hiding place”, Stanislawa recalls. When news would reach the village about approaching German patrols, the Jews moved into the forest. The Szlamas then left them food in a set place.

The young Stanisława became very close with the four Jews. After school and work in the farm she would come to their hiding place to talk with them quietly, tell them about her day, and relate news: “I really liked going to and sitting with them (…), when they left, I missed them. (…) Together they made a team, which I really liked.”

The Jews left their hiding place before the passing of the front in 1944. They stayed until liberation and then went to Germany, and later to Israel. Mosze Lichter emigrated in the 1950s. Before his departure he wanted to transfer his entire property to the Szlamas in an act of gratitude. The family, however, firmly refused any sort of compensation.

Bibliography

  • Gutman Israel red. nacz., Księga Sprawiedliwych wśród Narodów Świata, Ratujący Żydów podczas Holocaustu, Kraków 2009
  • Klara Jackl, Interwiev with Stanisława Włodarz, 29.03.2013