„They Saved many Jews”

A lot of people in western countries are still in doubt as to whether during German occupation Polish people really had helped some Jews to survive the war.

In my home village – Łubno near Dynów – Poles, Ukrainians and Jews had been living together for centuries. It is difficult to establish exactly where the Jews had come from and when. There were about 10 families who made their living by farming (on tiny, dwarfish farms) and small trade. They also owned small shops, rather modestly supplied with goods. From Poles and Ukrainians they bought cows, calves, horses, geese, chickens and rabbit skins, and sold them in Dynów. Nobody harmed or teased them, and they lived in friendly cohabitation with Poles and Ukrainians. With the latter – only until the outbreak of World War II.

Before the war I attended elementary school both in Łubno and Dynów together with Jewish children. We were good friends.

The occupation brought horrible misfortune to the Jewish community. The invaders treated them brutally and without mercy. In June, 1942, Germans took them away from the village and shot them in the forest near Brzozów. One of them - a neighbour of my grandfather Leon Kiełbasa, named Samuel Straus – managed to escape and for a few weeks he was hiding in the so-called Dolinki (Little Valleys), a forested area just a few hundred yards from the village houses. My cousin, Jadwiga Kiełbasa, brought him food during that time. He was betrayed by some Ukrainians. His fate was the same as that of his fellow Jews. He was shot.

Franciszek Hrycko from Kazimierówka (Łabno hamlet) gave shelter to a Jewish woman Blima Beżem. After the war she left for Israel. Several years ago he was awarded the medal of the Righteous Among the Nations, which he received from the hands of the Israeli Ambassador – Miron Gordon.

During this celebration, which took place in the Łańcut palace, my wife told me that during the war she and her sister Irena brought food to the Jews from the ghetto in Bóbrka near Lviv.

During German occupation Julian Przyboś, the poet, brought to Łubno a Jewish family of three people. They stayed not far from our place in the house of Bolesław Sienka. After the war they went to live in Brzeg on the Oder.

The above-mentioned people saved several Jews, putting their own lives at risk. At any time they could have been killed or sent to a concentration camp. They deserve our highest recognition.

Adam Rząsa
retired university teacher