Achim from Antonówka. Do you know him?

During the World War II in a village called Mosty, Wolyń, a small Jewish boy called Achim was hiding in a house belonging to a family of Florentyna Marzec (nee Gronkowska). Before the war his family had lived in a neighboring village – Antonówka. They were all killed by the Germans in a mass execution in the autumn of 1941 or 1942.

Below you can read Mrs. Florentyna Marzec's letter. If you know something about Achim, contact us.

“One day we went together with my mum and four of my siblings to dig out potatoes in a field. Suddenly my mother noticed some movements in the bushes. She said “… it can’t be an animal, it looks like a human being” and she ran towards it. It turned up to be a boy at the age of 10. I will never forget that view. He looked Jewish, a beautiful boy he was. We tried to calm him down. He was very stressed because he had no idea who we were; the Poles or the Ukrainians?”[ friends or enemies].

He was starved and cooled as temperatures in autumn get cooler and he had slept a few nights outdoor. We made a fire so he could warm up himself and fed him but he was so exhausted he could hardly swallow food. My elder brother took off his clothes [and gave them to the boy], so the boy could change his damp clothes. My mum asked about his name and he said: “Achim”. We took him home despite our fear of the Germans, because hiding a Jew could cost our lives.

My father built a shelter under a bread oven and the boy was hidden there. Unfortunately, that didn’t last long, a bit over a year. Someone informed on the boy to the German Police. The Germans came and arrested my father. They also searched a house and an estate. It was the God’s miracle that they didn’t find the boy. But he had to leave our house at once, so we placed him in our plot in the nearby woods. Together with my mother, in turn, we [children] regularly provided him with some food.

The Germans wanted to kill my father for hiding a Jew. So, we went with our mother to the prison [where the Germans kept the father] and there, we saw, my father is put against a wall waiting to be shot. We started to cry and shout “Please! Don’t kill our dad! Please!” and then one of the Germans said: “We will shot you too because you’re hiding a Jew”. And suddenly an Ukrainian man came out of the blue, who had known our father, claiming that it had been impossible that “Albin [my father] would never hide any Jew!” And my father was released, so we could go back home. But there was nowhere to go – our house and the neighboring village had been burnt. And we were sent to forced labour to Lagier Weissenburg Bayern, Germany.

After the war, we were not allowed to come back to our land because the border line had been changed and this land belonged to the Soviet Union [and still belongs]. But together with my mother, we went back to the village we had come from, just to get Polish passports. We were asking about Achim, but no one could tell us anything about the Jewish boy.

I still believe Achim is alive because he managed to escape from death many times: when his family got killed – the bullet missed him. He escaped crawling away from death (…) and then he reached our village where the Germans also didn’t find him during a thorough search of our house.

My mother, in her last will, obliged me to keep looking for the Jewish boy who was to her like her own child. I hope you would be able to help me find Achim, whom we loved as if he had been our brother.

Florentyna Marzec