The Trzeciak Family

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Story of Rescue - The Trzeciak Family

The Righteous and their family

Stanisław Trzeciak was born on May 8, 1939. She was only four-moths-old when the war broke out. He remembers hardly anything from the wartime, his memories consisting of several pictures.

At that time, he lived with his parents, Eufrozyna and Edward Trzeciak, as well as with the elder brother in the forester's lodge near Międzyrzec Podlaski. His father was a forester and he had built the lodge himself. It resembled a bit a manor house and was the best viewpoint on the neighbouring village and meadows. His mother did not need to work, she was a housekeeper.

The girl who was hidden

One day, in 1942, when Edward was driving a cart, he noticed an eleven-year-old Jewish girl crying by the road, and he took her home with him. Edward Trzeciak was being accompanied by a coachman who had worked with him since the pre-war times. That man, luckily, could be trusted, however officially he didn’t know that the girl was Jewish. He pretended to believe in her story – she said that the screech she had been carrying had exploded and she feared coming back to her village. At these times, screech was quite a profitable business in the region and she might got even killed if the owner found out what had happened.

The girl came from Lviv and had documents in the name of Maria Ludmiła Kogut but her true name was Lidia Damm. Her mother's name was Natalia Damm, according to what she said.

Hiding the Jewish girl

She stayed in the forester's lodge, which was dangerous because guerrilla fighters came there at night to eat and rest. The Trzeciak family also helped Soviet POWs who came to eat. When the partisans were arriving at night, Mrs. Eufrozyna Trzeciak provided them with food, however she recognized them only by voices. She preferred not to light any candles, because she didn’t want to see their faces, in case she was arrested and had to testify.

Lidia however wasn’t kept in cellar, she had a room on her own and was kept away from the visitors. “It was like sitting on a bomb that in any moment could explode”, Stanisław Trzeciak sums up.

After some time, Mrs. Trzeciak, together with her sons, moved to Międzyrzec Podlaski. Since they could not find shelter for Ludka there, she stayed in the forester's lodge with Stanisław's father.

Mrs. Eufrozyna rented a flat which had a terrible location – right above a bar for Germans. Mrs. Eufrozyna Trzeciak saw that the local Jewish children were collecting leftovers from the restaurant every evening, so she started to leave some food for them – not too much, only that little which she could afford.

One evening a girl knocked on the door and brought a small kettle, saying that from tomorrow her family won’t need it. Stanisław’s mother couldn’t help her, because helping a child in Międzyrzec meant inevitably death for everyone. She couldn’t stop crying for many nights after that shocking event. It was a true tragedy for the woman, as Stanisław says.

Ludka stayed in the forest till the arrival of the Red Army. The period right before the liberation was the most dangerous for her, because the greedy Polish peasants who discovered her presence shortly before the Soviets marched in, kept coming and asking her where had the treasure been hidden.

It was a commonplace that the Jews had dug the gold and other valuable objects in the forests or maybe did they imagine the gold Ludka had presumably paid to Trzeciaks for hiding her. When the Red Army showed up, they arranged their headquarters in the lodge, so Ludka was finally safe.

After the war

After the liberation, the Trzeciak family went to Pomorze. In 1949, Edward was arrested by the Office of Security. He served a two-year prison sentence in Gdańsk, then in Lublin, he was tortured but survived. The family had to give away all of their money to save the father. They paid judges, advocate and the Stalinist public prosecutors.

After the war, Ludka lived in an orphanage. Stanisław recalls that this was her decision, she wanted to become independent. She then went to Warsaw. They lost contact for many years. Only after the death of Edward and Eufrozyna, did Lidia find the Trzeciak family. She recommended the Trzeciak family for the medal “The Righteous Among the Nations” which they received in 2008.

Now Ludka stays in touch with Stanisław and has already came several times to meet him and her friends in Sopot. She plans to visit the forester’s lodge in Brzozowica, where she hid.

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

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Bibliography

  • Dąbrowska Anna red., Światła w ciemności. Sprawiedliwi wśród Narodów Świata. Relacje, Lublin 2008
  • Weitman Wioletta, Interview with Stanisław Trzeciak, a son of Euforyzna and Edward Trzeciak, 1.01.2008