Justice4Poland.com

Connecting true geography and detailed unfolding of wide variety of crimes perpetrated by German/Ukrainian Nazis and jewish bolsheviks of Soviet Union on the Polish nation.

Polish holocaust – At what price did Poles help Jews ?


 “Death for a slice of bread”

 

Memories arouse emotions. Wiesława Witkowska (née Kotowska), after sixty years, standing next to the chapel erected at the place of her parents death ,  could not control her tears that flowed from her eyes, just as she could not erase these memories.

Fig. from 2003

Wiesława Witkowska

 

Inhabitants of Paulinów nearby Ratyniec cannot calmly talk about past events.

On February 24th 1943 eleven Poles were brutally murdered there – for sheltering Jews, sometimes only for a piece of bread they shared with them. On August 31, 2003, at the edge of the Paulinow village, a chapel was unveiled dedicated to commemorating the inhabitants murdered in February 1943 for helping Jews.
:For your goodness and loyalty to God – they shot you.”
Jesus taught us :” Take cold travellers home and keep them warm.  Give the hungry ones slice of bread.”
For your goodness and loyalty to God – they shot you, “wrote the local poet Lucyna Maksimiak. Ms.

Wiesława Witkowska née Kotowska, who lost her father, mother and brother, recalls: – They died because of their good heart and generous nature.

Parents raised eight children and everyone was taught to share, everyone who asks for must be given food: whether it is old man , a Gypsy or a Jew knocking on your door, because everyone is a human and a child of God.

“Jews often came to our house and asked for food and they never left empty-handed. It came to the point that my mother always cooked more than our large family needed, because someone else might turn up .”
It was similar in other Paulinow and Ratyn houses, although the residents were well aware of the dangers to them.

Janina Stalewska,  daughter of the murdered Stanisław Piwka, recalls: -” When the Jews came to us, my father gave them bread, although my grandmother was very afraid and said: “What are you doing, the Germans will kill us for that.” But father couldn’t deny them food and handed them the whole loaf.”
Retaliation for the “crime” of sharing bread took on an absurd proportions – it was planned, thoroughly prepared, large-scale action, first with the use of a provocateur, then – with the involvement of about 2,000 German soldiers and policemen who came from Ostrów Mazowiecka with sixty cars.
Marek Chodkiewicz in the book “Jews and Poles. 1918-1955 “wrote:” A disgusting innovation of German national socialists was the release of individual provocateurs and collaborators usually the treacherous Soviets, Jews, Ukrainians and certain criminal Poles, usually fresh out from jail communists, who pretended to be refugees from camps or ghettos. They asked Polish peasants for help and then denounced them. The extent of this phenomenon is not yet known, but we know, for example, that Franciszek Augustyniak, 30 years old, a worker residing in Paulinów near Sokołów Podlaski was shot by the SS unit on February 24, 1943 together with a group of 14 another people who were victims of the provocation: several weeks before, they helped a Nazi collaborator who pretended to be a Jewish fugitive. ”

Paulinów and Ratyniec are small and quiet villages, that you will not find on the maps of Europe. They are located near Sterdynia, 20 km north of Sokołów Podlaski, and 50 km from Siedlce. To this day, from Sokołowska Road you can go there on a dirt road, which is rather rarely frequented.

Slightly wavy fields and meadows are surrounded by forests. It is not surprising that many Jews who escaped from the Sterdynia ghetto or from the Treblinka concentration camp located nearby were seeking shelter and help. During the day they stayed in the woods and at night they sheltered themselves in some buildings.
A collaborator was send from Warsaw to join the Jews hiding in and around Paulinow. He claimed to be a French Jew who had escaped from the transport of “displaced persons” taken to Treblinka. It is not known exactly who he was, but during the murder of Poles, the inhabitants recognized him among German soldiers dressed in German uniform.
In making the diagnosis, he used a local Jew from Sterdyń – Szynel Helman. It was not established whether Helman knew about the provocation or participated in it consciously.
The provocateur from Warsaw and Szynel from Sterdynia came to Paulinów for food and shelter, at the same time talking about the situation in the country and the world.
On the list of the so-called “criminals” helping Jews,  were also those who shared some food and shelter.
I have lived through the worst moments of my life here – said Witkowska crying.
On this memorable Wednesday, February 24, 1943, the Germans surrounded the farm and village of Paulinów from all sides, so that the roundup line was about 10 km, as residents remembered, ran from the Sterdyń-Sokołów road through the Zembrowski forest, to Wymysły, Ratyniec, and through Dąbrówka highway.
After the closing of Paulinów and nearby towns, the provocateur /collaborator exposed the ‘guilty’ party to the Gestapo and the gendarmerie.

Franciszek Kierylak was the first one to die. The next victims were the married couple, Ewa and Józef Kotowski. They died shot on the stairs of their own home.
Daughter of Wiesława Witkowska was a witness to the crime. Sixty years after that day, standing next to the chapel erected at the place of her parents death, she could not control her tears, just as she could not erase memories. In a cracking voice she said:
– I ran out into the yard when the Germans dragged my paralyzed father out of the house. I saw one of them shoot him in the face. Seeing him still alive the Nazis finished him off with a second bullet. I run back into the apartment screaming: “Mummy! They shot daddy. ” A German ran after me and pushed me hard, I fell on the floor. Then he grabbed my mother and pulled her into the hall. I heard another bang. I fell to my knees in front of the image of the Holy Mother and prayed; ” Please let me survive. ” The German came back to the room, looked at me praying and left.
Another six men along with the son of murdered couple were gathered and then moved to the forest and shot there.
At the time, Krystyna Pytel was 12 years old, she lived in a colony near the forest, hiding in the shrubs witnessed the crime scene: – For a long time, in places where the blood soaked into the ground nothing grew. There was only the blood-soaked valley.

The second brother of Mrs. Wiesława Witkowska – Czesław Kotowski survived because he escaped from Paulinów on time,  but he  saw and counted 24 German cars on the road section from Paulinów to Zembrów.
A young girl, Joanna Lewandowska lost her brother, 25 years old Zygmunt, who also helped Jews . He was shot along with Marian Nowicki.

German war crimes.png

We did not go in 1939 to conquer the lands of the Germans, but they invaded us and gave us a 5-year ordeal.
During the raid on Paulinow, a shooting ensued and as a result of which the Germans mistakenly shot also each other when they opened fire, coming from opposite sides – from Ratyniec and Zembrów. Two German soldiers were killed and a third one was wounded. The Germans then went to Sokołów and buried murdered Poles in the forest.
During the unveiling ceremony of the shrine commemorating the murdered,  Henryk Kozłowski from the Municipal Union of Veterans took to the floor.

“- It was not us who went to conquer the German lands in 1939, but they invaded us and ‘cooked’ us a 5-year tragic ordeal – they drove us out of our homes, burned our villages, destroyed our cities, and brutally murdered the innocent and defenseless.

War is a terrible thing, simply hard to imagine. And when you hear today that Poles expelled the Germans or Jews and forced them to leave, everything turns over in my guts.
FROM : Anna Wasak
Article from 2003

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