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26.01.2024

"Not Just the Ulmas" about Poles saving Jews

With this series of films entitled "Not Just the Ulmas", the Institute of National Remembrance would like to pay tribute to the victims of the Holocaust, as well as to the Poles who lost their lives to protect their Jewish fellow citizens during the criminal German occupation of Poland. A prime example of this atrocity was the crime committed by the Germans against the nine-members of the Ulma Family. The 80th anniversary of this crime will be commemorated on March 24.

Red Beads
"Not Just the Ulmas"
"Not Just the Ulmas" about Poles saving Jews
"Not Just the Ulmas" about Poles saving Jews
"Not Just the Ulmas" about Poles saving Jews Nazwa

The film Red Beads depicts one of the bloodiest German crimes committed against Poles rescuing Jews. It resulted in the murder of families from the villages of Wierzbica and Wolica near Miechów: the Gądeks, Kucharskis, Książeks, Nowaks and the members of the Wandersman Jewish family and their relatives who had been rescued. January 29 marks the 81st anniversary of this crime.

 

 

When describing the martyrdom of the Jews of Poland, emphasis is usually placed on the Jews who hid on the “Aryan side,” and suffered at the hands of Polish blackmailers and informers, Fascist hooligans and other underworld elements. Less is written about the fact that thousands of Poles risked their lives extending aid to Jews. The froth and scum on the surface of a stormy river is more noticeable than the pure stream in the depths. That stream did exist, and it was effective. ... wrote Adolf Berman, during World War II, who was one of the leaders of Jewish underground political life in Poland, working with the Government Delegation for Poland, co-author of appeals to the world to respond to the German Holocaust of Jews.

With this series of films entitled "Not Only the Ulmas", the Institute of National Remembrance would like to pay tribute to the victims of the Holocaust, as well as to the Poles who lost their lives to protect their Jewish fellow citizens during the criminal German occupation of Poland. A prime example of this atrocity was the crime committed by the Germans against the nine-members of the Ulma Family. The 80th anniversary of this crime will be commemorated on March 24.

Researchers estimate that the Germans murdered about a thousand Poles during World War II for helping Jews. Thanks to the heroic actions of many Polish residents, tens of thousands of Polish citizens of Jewish descent were saved.

Subsequent episodes will be presented until the end of May 2024 every Friday at 10 am.

Red Beads, a story based on the research of Martyna Grądzka-Rejak Ph.D., an employee of the IPN Historical Research Office in Warsaw, shows first and foremost the criminality of the German occupier aiming to eliminate Polish citizens, primarily those of Jewish descent.

The film portrays the heroism of several Polish families who risked their lives to save their Jewish neighbours. We also learn about the complexity of the situation during the German occupation of Poland during World War II. The Germans organized a bloody manhunt after torturing and forcing one of the captured Jews to confess. In addition to German gendarmes, the raid also involved Poles who, usually under threat of death, were forced to work in the German-commanded Polnische Polizei, known as the "Blue Police".

 

The episode depicts the Balawender family – Feliks and Wiktoria and their son Tadeusz - who, from the fall of 1943 to 2 February 1944, gave shelter to three escapees from the Lubaczow ghetto named Cioma, Fleischer and Dekiel. The men hid in a small hiding place under the floor of one of the rooms. The entrance to the shelter was blocked with a potato chest. The Jews hidden by the Balawender family had previously received the same help from a Ukrainian family. Another Ukrainian reported to the police that someone from the Balawender family committed theft. Little did he know that this was no ordinary theft. It was the men hiding with the Balawender's who had stolen some items from the farm. They left footprints in the snow…

 

 

 

"A shelter under the bed. The Kobylec family" - premiere of the 3rd episode of the film series "Not just the Ulmas".

The film tells the story of a mining family from Michałkowice, the current district of Siemianowice Sląskie. An underground bunker in their home became a chance for life for about 70 Jews.

"A shelter under the bed. The Kobylec family" is a story based on the findings collected in the IPN publication “Repressions for helping Jews in occupied Polish lands during the Second World War”  authored by Martyna Grądzka-Rejak and Aleksandra Namysło, Warsaw 2019, vol. I.

The film depicts the heroism of the Kobylec family, who risked their lives to save their Jewish fellow citizens. In August 1943, the Germans carried out the liquidation of the Sosnowiec and Będzin ghettos, the inhabitants of which were to be deported to the German Auschwitz concentration camp. A few managed to survive by hiding in secret bunkers. One of them was located in the house of the Kobylec family in Michałkowice, then a village near Siemianowice Sląskie.

Karolina and Piotr Kobylec  and their children lived in a house at 4 Stabika Street. It turned out that one of their sons, Mieczysław, had been hiding a young Jewish girl in their home without his parents’ knowledge. When this secret came to light, they decided to build a bunker in the kitchen under the floor. The hideout was equipped with ventilation and light, as well as places to sleep. The sizable space provided shelter for a dozen people, although there were times when dozens stayed there. It is estimated that from the autumn of 1943 to January 1944 about 70 Jews found shelter in the Kobylec family home, among them young members of the resistance movement: Kasia Szancer, Fela Katz, Shmuel Ron and Chajka Klinger. The neighbours were also involved in offering help to the Jewish inhabitants.

The Jews from the hiding place in Michałkowice tried to get transported to Slovakia and Hungary, in order to then reach the Middle East. Mieczysław Kobylec was involved in organizing the transport, and it was thanks to his efforts that several groups managed to successfully reach Slovakia. On 10 January 1944, the Germans stopped one of the groups, Mieczysław Kobylec was then arrested and sent to Auschwitz. Piotr, Wiktor and Alojzy Kobylec were also arrested at the same time. The German occupiers imprisoned Piotr in Auschwitz, and soon transferred Mieczysław from Auschwitz to Gross-Rossen Concentration Camp, where he was imprisoned until the camp's liberation.

Thanks to the efforts of the Jews rescued in Michałkowice, Piotr, Karolina, Mieczysław, Klara and Wiktor were awarded the Medal of the Righteous Among the Nations.

 

"Shelter Door concealed under a Rug”

 

 

 

The film "Shelter Door concealed under a Rug” depicts the heroism of Emilia Dembska, who risked her life to save her Jewish fellow citizens. Involved in the activities of patriotic organizations in Kołomyja, she was a member of the local structures of the Polish Gymnastic Society "Sokól." Probably from the autumn of 1941, she hid a group of eleven Jews in her single-family house at 5 Gazowa Street.

The fugitives had found shelter in her home even before the Germans closed off the Jewish quarter, which did not happen until March 1942.Among them were presumably representatives of local wealthy Jewish families, such as the wives of the Gottfryd brothers and the three-member family of lawyer Karpel. The Jews hid in a special basement room, the entrance to which was located in the kitchen. It was camouflaged by a carpet. A hard of hearing  named Marysia, was also involved in helping them.

"Killed in the yard" - 4th episode of he film series "Not just the Ulmas".

 

 

 

The film "Killed in the yard " depicts the heroism of the Krysiewicz family, who risked their lives to save their Jewish fellow citizens. In the village of Waniewo, located during the occupation in the Sokołów region, and now in the Sokoły municipality of the Wysokie Mazowieckie district, one of the farms was run by Władysława and Stanisław Krysiewicz. It was there that they had dug an underground shelter in the barn, under the floor. It became a chance of life for about 10 people. The couple took it upon themselves to supply food and care to those in hiding, keeping it a secret even from their children. However, on the night of 7-8 September, 1943, the farm was surrounded by Germans. Stanislaw was captured in the yard, the gendarmes began beating him, wanting to force him to say where the hiding place was. Then the Jews began to flee - all of them were shot. Heavily beaten, lying on the ground, Stanisław was shot in the head by one of the gendarmes. Władysława was arrested and later murdered in the Jewish cemetery in Tykocin. The crime carried out by the gendarmes against Władysława and Stanisław Krysiewicz was a tragedy for their five children. Although they survived the German occupation, after it ended they were sent to an orphanage, where they were separated. The two youngest were adopted by a foster family who gave them their own name, which contributed to the loss of contact with the rest of the siblings. The children finally reunited many years after the war.

 

The film "Eighteen Jews found shelter there" depicts the heroism of the Andrzejczyk family, who risked their lives to save their Jewish fellow citizens. In the fall of 1942, when the mass liquidation of ghettos was underway in Białystok, three of his good friends, Judel Węgorz, a man named Szczupakiewicz and a man called Moniek, showed up at the home of Franciszek Andrzejczyk.

They asked the farmer to hide not only them but also other fugitives on his farm. Franciszek Andrzejczyk provided them with assistance. He agreed to let a total of 18 people hide in his house. Two underground shelters were prepared for the fugitives - one underneath the house and the other in a nearby potato cellar. On 20 March 1943, German gendarmes from Czyżewo showed up at the farm. When the farmer denied that he was hiding Jews, the gendarmes began a search. At one point, one of them fired a series of shots from his machine gun killing Franciszek. All the Jews in hiding were captured and killed, and Franciszek’s relatives were severely beaten; their home was also robbed of clothing, shoes and valuables. Shortly after the incident, the widow and children were informed that their entire property would become the property of the German occupation authorities.

 

 


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