The Wislinski Family

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Story of Rescue - The Wislinski Family

The Righteous

Before the war the Wiśliński family lived in Konopnica. The mother, Helena, worked for various farmers. The father, Stanisław, worked in an ammunitions factory in Kraśnik near Lublin. When the war started the family moved to Bełżyce. They hoped that: “perhaps it would be easier to find work there.” Upon their arrival, the Wiśliński family was assigned to live in the house of the Goldiner family; Stanisław Wiśliński found work as a carpenter.

Jews who were hidden

Rywka Goldiner was born in 1942 in Bełżyce. She survived the German occupation hidden in the home of the Wiśliński family. They called her Jagódka. They said that she was the daughter of Helena Wiślińska’s sister. In the summer of 1944 her parents, Masza and Szlomo Goldiner, came out of hiding and came to get their child. After the war they left for Lublin, then for Frankfurt, and from there moved to Palestine. They kept in touch with Helena Wiślińska until her death (in the 1970s).

Pola Gruber was born around 1920. One day in 1942 she appeared at the home of the Wiśliński family, introducing herself as Zofia Wójcik and offering to work in the house and to care for the children. “We figured then that perhaps it was the child’s parents [Rywka Goldiner’s parents], who had known her and sent her over to help us,” – recalls Zofia Bagan in an interview conducted by researchers for MHPJ.

The woman stayed at the house despite the fact that the Wiślińskis were poor and could not pay her. “My mother finally let her stay, and she was with us until the liberation. And she helped us.” After a while it turned out that Zofia Wójcik was Jewish.

History of Hiding

In the spring of 1942 the Germans began exterminating the Jewish population in the town of Bełżyce near Lublin. Masza and Szlomo Goldiner were able to escape and hide. Their situation was very difficult because the woman was pregnant. The couple found shelter at the home of the Wojtaszki family. They hid in a cellar beneath the cowshed together with Masza Goldiner’s father and brother-in-law Szmuel Fersztman.

The house in which they had until recently been living in, had been assigned to Helena and Stanisław Wiśliński. When Rywka Goldiner was born, her parents realized that the child had no chance of surviving in the conditions under which they were living. “It was simply a cowshed, and in the cowshed a cellar. There was just a trapdoor in the floor. You had to climb down a ladder. And they spent whole days down there,” – Zofia Bagan explains to a researcher from MHPJ.

With Szmuel Fersztman as a intermediary, the Goldiners turned for help to the Wiśliński family. “We received a Jewish apartment from the city hall, we were assigned their apartment. And we lived there. So perhaps they […] felt they could come to us because we were living in their apartment. And they asked us, I mean my parents, if they would care for the little baby. She was only two weeks old then, the little Jewish girl,” – recalls Zofia Bagan.

Zofia admits that her parents had to take a while to make their decision. They had six of their own children, and were afraid of the large responsibility.

„Father even went to ask the priest if it would be possible to sign the child over, to make it seem as if it was their own.” The priest would not agree to such a thing, but despite this the Wiśliński family agreed to take Rywka in. Hiding her was very risky because the house was often visited by both Polish partisans and German officers.

It was difficult to get enough food for such a large family. Szmuel Fersztman, Rywka Goldiner’s uncle, worked as a baker and – “baked this cake, these crackers with eggs (…). Later, when he couldn’t do it anymore because he had to go into hiding, we had to provide for her ourselves. Sometimes they sent us things (…), but not very much. And then we would share what he had.”

According to the records at Yad Vashem, Rywka’s parents visited their daughter twice while she was hiding with the Wiśliński family. Zofia Bagan does not believe that the Goldiners ever came to see their daughter because it would have been too dangerous. Rywka’s uncle Szmuel Fersztman definitely had contact with her.

After the war the Goldiner family went to Lublin. They owned a house there. “They wanted to leave us the house, but they wanted father to get the lawyer and money together. And father had the money then […], but he said: people will say we made money on Jews during the war[…]. Father didn’t want that[…]” – explains Zofia Bagan.

After a time, the Goldiners left Lublin for Frankfurt, and later moved to Israel. The families stayed in touch until the 1970s, until the death of Helena Wiślińska.

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