The Woś Family

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“Their calm healed our sick heart” – the story of the Woś family

Helena Woś recalls, “The three of them came to us and asked us for help. I trembled. Oh God! What if a neighbour should find out? I closed the door and covered the windows. Out of fear, I curled up on the bed, while my husband talked with them at length. We hid them in the barn”.

Helena and Paweł Woś lived in Bystrzyca (Lubelskie Province, Lubelski DIstrict). They were a young couple who ran a farm. During World War II, they decided to extend help to three Jews. One of them, Lejzor Zandberg, was a school friend of Helena’s.

In October 1942, all the Jews in the area received an order for relocation. Zandberg then turned for help to his friends, the Dziedzic family, who gave him shelter. After a time, he left their farm. They did not know that, during that time, he was hiding with their neighbours – the Niezgoda and Woś families.

“There were many times when I was invited into their homes on holidays or on days of severe frost. I hid in attics, barns, haystacks or straw. They gave me food and washed my underwear. If mine were torn, they would give me theirs. I was also given tobacco. Most importantly, these people did it for reasons of humanity and not for profit”, wrote Zandberg after the war.

The Woś family also helped two of his friends. Their names are unknown but, according to Helena, they came from Bychawa.

“After two days, my husband arranged new places for them. Our place wasn’t suitable. On the third day, at night, he led them out of the barn and then through the field. To this day, I don’t know where they went”.

They hid in various places. With the help of Paweł, whom Lejzor called “a close friend”, and his wife Helena, they were provided with a temporary supply of food, help with finding hiding places,  and the provision, washing and mending of clothes.

The Woś attic also provided shelter for an older woman named Chawa. However, Helena knew nothing of her presence. Paweł did not tell his wife everything.

After the war, Lejzor Zandberg settled in Gdańsk and changed his name to “Leon Adamski”. He remained in constant contact with his benefactors – the Dziedzic, Niezgoda and Woś families. In one of his letters to Helena, he wrote, “I’d like to sit for a while on the Bystrzycka land, in those meadows and in the forests where I spent many nights. I’d like to swim in our Bystrzycka river, which I did when I hid in the palace basements”.

Zandberg’s two friends also survived the Holocaust. After the war, one of them ran a restaurant in Germany, while the other left for the United States.

“A poor, village friend made us smile, helped us to survive and helped good win over evil”, Zandberg wrote to Yad Vahem. “Their calm healed our sick heart”.

In 1992, Helena and Paweł Woś were honoured with the title of Righteous Among the Nations. That title was also awarded to the Dziedzic and Niezgoda families.

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Bibliography

  • Zubkowicz Rafał, Interview with Helena Woś, 23.03.2009
  • Archiwum Żydowskiego Instytutu Historycznego, Dział Yad Vashem, akta sprawy Heleny Woś, sygn. 349/832