Władysław Goń's Story

I am a witness to the rescue of Mordka Szlam by my parents – Piotr and Agnieszka Goń, who lived, during World War II, in Wólka Pełkińska (Podkarpackie Province). The Jewish Szlam family lived in our town during the inter-War period. In 1941, they were murdered by the Germans. Of the entire family, only their son Mordka survived. From that moment, he hid in my family's home.

My parents hid, protected and looked after him for three years – until the autumn of 1944. In 1942 or 1943, the Polish Police (and the Wólka Pełkińska Fire Brigade, forced by the Polish Police) carried out a search of our home. They found no one as, a day earlier, my father found out that the search was being planned. He immediately placed Mordka in the home of his sister Rozalia Maciałek in Łazy Kostkowskie.

As a result of the search, my dad was nevertheless arrested and taken to Gestapo headquarters in Jarosław. Over two weeks, he was interrogated and tortured there, losing four front teeth as a result. After the two weeks, he was released and returned home. Over that time, Mordka continued to stay in Łazy Kostkowskie. After returning from the Gestapo, dad took over hiding him.

After the arrival of the Red Army, Mordka exhumed the whole murdered Szlam family. As a sixteen-year-old at the time, I helped him in the task. We transported the bodies by cart to the Jewish cemetery near Jarosław and re-buried them.

Following liberation in 1945, Mordka left for Katowice, where he managed a chemical production plant which, among other items, produced shoe-polish. Dad visted him and maintained contact until 1955.

Who were my parents?

My mother, Agnieszka Goń (1898-1975), daughter of Mikołaj and Katarzyna, looked after the home on the farm and raised her daughters Józefa and Stefania, as well as her son Władysław, namely me. I was born in 1928.

My father, Piotr Goń (1896-1975), the son of Marcin and Anna, took part in World War I as a soldier in the Austro-Hungarian Army. At that time, he was captured and was placed in a prisoner-of-war camp in Sicily. Later, in France, he joined the Blue Army under the command of Generał Józef Haller, in which he served from 1918 to 1921. He took part in the Polish-Ukrainian War in 1919 and in the Polish-Bolshevik War in 1920. After finishing his service, he established a family, ran a farm and was a trader.

During the German occupation and after liberation, he aided members of the partisan and pro-independence units. When, in the summer of 1941, the Third Reich invaded the Soviet Union, the Germans built a prisoner-of-war camp in Wólka Pełkińskie. Dad extended help to two escapees, Red Army soldiers. He also helped a Pole who had escaped from a forced labour camp. That Pole was Stanisław Bobak from Mszana Dolna. Dad gave him refuge in our home and then, disguised as a peasant, took the soldiers by cart to the border on the San and then took Stanisław Bobak to the railway station in Pełkinie, where he bought him a train ticket to Kraków.

For helping members of partisan and pro-independence units, dad was arrested twice - in the spring of 1945 by the Urząd Bezpieczeństwa Publicznego (UB; Public Security Office) in Jarosław (he was imprisoned in Rzeszów Castle) and again by the UB in Przeworsk. His record is held in the archives of the Institute of National Remembrance (IPN) in Rzeszów (Ref. Rz.042/1604).

I have told my parents' story in remembrance of them, their courage, their sense of justice and their kind hearts. Several times, they risked their own lives in order to help save the life of someone else, regardless of that person's race or religion. I would also like to discover what happened to Mordka, who was saved by them.