The Tosza family

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Story of Rescue - The Tosza family

Aniela and Wincenty Tosza lived in Radziszów, a village near Kraków. Wincenty worked in Kraków as a police investigator. Their house – a large, single-storey brick building – was situated in the heart of the village, near the cemetery, the river and the railway line. Before the war, the Tosza family lived a quiet life. On 4 September 1931 their son Tadeusz was born.

After the outbreak of the war, Wincenty left his job with the Kraków police because he refused to collaborate with the Germans. He occupied himself with working on his small farm. As a consequence, the financial standing of the Tosza family worsened considerably.

In spite of their difficult situation, in 1943 the Toszas gave shelter to Samuel Berkowitz (Stanisław Hojda), a Jew from Kraków.

Samuel Berkowitz was born and lived in Kraków. Prior to the war he worked as a furrier. He had a fiancée, Fryderyka Fuchs. During the occupation, he was sent to the ghetto and then to the camp in Płaszów, but managed to escape in unknown circumstances. According to his daughter, Shelley Liverman, after his escape Samuel took on his mother's last name, Hojda, which had a less Jewish sound. He changed his first name to Stanisław. On the “Aryan” side he requested help from
Mr Wojnarowski, an acquaintance working as a janitor and living in Rynek Podgórski in Kraków. Wojnarowski kept Stanisław in a hideout under the floor.

However, Stanisław could not hide there for a long time. That was when Wojnarowski turned to his acquaintance Wincenty Tosza, asking him to hide Stanisław in his house near Kraków. Initially, Wincenty was afraid to take Stanisław into his home, but after a discussion with his wife, he agreed to help the Jew.

The journey to Radziszów was dangerous. The men started towards the railway station, walking separately to avoid attracting attention. Wincenty, a former Kraków policeman, could have been recognized. At one point, Stanisław was stopped by the Blue Police. He was released just before the train left the station; most probably he bribed the officers with the last money he had with him. The way from the station to the house was not peaceful either. To bypass the main road, where they could come across German patrols (partisan warfare was active in the area), the men made their way through the fields and thickets on the river bank.

The Tosza family hid Stanisław in a hayloft. He spent his whole days in the hideout and fended off boredom by reading books brought by Wojnarowski from Kraków. Only after dark could he go out into the yard.

Neither relatives nor neighbours knew of the fugitive. Maintaining secrecy was especially difficult for the Toszas' 12-year-old son Tadeusz. He was not allowed to say a word about the new household member to his friends. At the same time he was significantly involved in helping Stanisław – it was he who brought food and books to the hideout.

The 22 months that Stanisław spent in the Toszas' attic were not without dangerous situations. Tadeusz remembers that once, when he was playing with his friends near the house, one of the boys shouted that he was seeing someone in the attic. Tadeusz managed to persuade his friend that it was impossible, but the family needed to take more precautions. The most dangerous moment came during a hunt for Home Army partisans and a search for conspirators in the houses in the neighbourhood. The Tosza house was also searched. A German went up to the attic and stuck a pitchfork in the hay where Stanisław was hiding. Luckily, the prongs missed his body.

When the war ended, Stanisław went to Kraków to look for news of his family and his fiancée Fryderyka. He found out that the woman had been sent to KL Auschwitz, and then put on a death march to Germany. The lovers met again at the railway station in Kraków. Reportedly, Stanisław brought a fur coat for Fryderyka. They were married in 1945 and left Poland two years later. They lived in Israel, then moved to Canada. They had two children, Mark and Shelley.

Stanisław Hojda maintained frequent contact with the Tosza family, even after emigration. They treated each other as close family.

In 1991, thanks to the efforts of the Survivor and his family, Aniela and Wincenty Tosza were posthumously awarded the title and medal of Righteous Among the Nations.