The Zak Family

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The story of the Żak family

“We saved 14 people. My parents, uncle Czesław, me and my younger sister. Ambassador Shevah Weiss was surprised, too. ‘Where?’ he asked. I gave the address: Warsaw, 1 Grzybowski Square. He couldn’t believe”.

In a small room built in between two apartments, they were hiding three families: the Treflers, the Grynbergs, and Mietek Lipski with his mother.

“Twice, collaborationists came. Once they got Jurek Trefler and took him to the police, but he came back. The second time, on July 20th, 1944, on Czesław’s name day, they came again. They hammered on the door at six in the morning. My parents weren’t home, uncle Czesław opened the door. I was only 16, I threw off my night gown, stark naked, and when one of them busted into my room, I screamed out: ‘Brute!’ He told me to get dressed. I came out in a robe, brazenly asking what was going on, why are the doors open, close them please, etc. I closed the door to the kitchen. I said I was keeping pets there. They got interested – what sort of pets. Rabbits, I say. Why? There’s no meat, so I’m keeping rabbits. They started making jokes, one tried to get a date. Then they went away”.

They were selling vegetables. “Some were sold, the rest was left at home. Dad built a cart with a hidden compartment, supposedly for the scales. We were hiding extra food there”.

Even after the war they did not tell anyone about hiding the Jews. Sometimes she was curious what their acquaintances thought of the people who did so. They used to say, enviously: ‘Such people have it good now, plenty of gold, riches’.

“And there I was, listening to it and realizing I still had to hide what I did. Sadly, there’s much anti-Semitism here. It’s sad, but it’s true”.

Other Stories of Rescue in the Area

Bibliography

  • Archiwum Żydowskiego Instytutu Historycznego, 349, 2330
    Report of Kazimiera Romanek written on 8th of April 1997.
  • Witkowska Agnieszka, Interview with Czesława Żak, 28.03.2008
  • Gutman Israel red. nacz., Księga Sprawiedliwych wśród Narodów Świata, Ratujący Żydów podczas Holocaustu, Kraków 2009