The Szwed Family
Story of Rescue - The Szwed Family
Katarzyna and Andrzej Szwed, the parents of seven children: Tadeusz, Władysław, Franciszek, Józef, Weronika, Janina and Wanda, lived in Andresowiec, near Włodzimierz Wołyński. They were well-to-do farmers.
After the war broke out, this region found itself under Soviet occupation and the new authorities considered the Szweds kulaks - profiteering land-owners. At the end of June 1941, they were to be deported deep into the USSR, but were saved from exile by the Third Reich’s attack on the Soviet Union.
Under this new occupation of Wołyn, persecution of Jews began. In the executions carried out in Piatydnie in the autumn of 1942, the Nazis murdered about 15 thousand people. Many of the Jews remaining in the Włodzimierz ghetto managed to escape, and were looking for places in which to hide.
The Szweds did not refuse these fugitives food, but were afraid to hide anyone. However, in 1943 eight persons found refuge on their property: Dawid Wapniarski with his wife Maria and their children, Jankiel, Szymon and Regina as well as Szaja Maltzman, and two children, a brother and sister named Katz. The Szweds prepared an underground hideout for them near their well; then later a second hideout under their barn.
When the Russian front approached Włodzimierz in 1944, Ukrainian nationalists began raiding Polish villages. Katarzyna Szwed and her children found shelter in the city, while Andrzej stayed on the farm. After Andresowiec was burnt to the ground, he took the hidden Jews to a safer place; Andrzej himself was killed.
The Jews survived the war. Szaja Maltzman left for Israel and the Katz children went to the USA. The Wapniarskis remained for some time in Poland, and then emigrated to Canada. The Szwed family still keeps in touch with them.