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Jankiel Kulawiec

Some farmers, Poles, hid me and kept me for a time. I was living with them in their house, and I didn't have to sit there the whole time. I went out to work sometimes, for instance to take apples to the squire.
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Mico Alvo

We had a really good time with them. Latronis had an employee, who was also his girlfriend. She was a beautiful woman, very beautiful, and she was from Patra as well. Because she got pregnant, he decided to marry her. After a couple of months they got married. The wedding took place in the house. Only we and a few close friends were present.

Latronis and Papahrisanthou didn't think that they were risking anything at the time. But that's how it was. There were many like him. Latronis was very religious, he would go to church every Sunday and he felt it was his duty to help anyone who was in danger. I am certain that this is how it was. He probably also helped us because of the friendship that he had with my uncle.
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Krystyna Budnicka

One day it turned out that the midwife had been doing illegal abortions and injured some Volksdeutsche [10] woman who ended up in hospital and the Germans began an investigation: where, what and how. We had to run. Anka and I were led out separately, but on Dolna Street some kids began to yell after me, 'Jewess'. I spent the entire night on coal in a cellar. I was not suitable to be shown to other people. I couldn't show my face in public because I looked very Semitic. [Jews identified as such by Poles were often blackmailed or handed over to the Germans.] The next day a female liaison came in the morning, put a bandage around my head and took me by tram to Dobra Street. And that's how I found myself at the Budnickis'. Anka was already there.

The Budnickis helped Jews; they were a middle-aged childless couple. I know that when the summer holidays started, Mrs. Budnicka went to a summer vacation spot with some Jewish children, somewhere in the Otwock area. When the Uprising broke out, she wasn't in Dobra Street. Anka cooked there. I recall that the Poles captured a heating plant somewhere nearby and there was great joy, euphoria. During the Uprising we would go down with everybody else to the cellar, the shelter. At that time I didn't hear a bad word directed at us. You could say that people felt a stronger solidarity with one another, all felt the same danger. We walked out of Warsaw on 6th September with the Budnickis. We crossed Warsaw, which was ablaze. I parted with Anka in Wola [a district of Warsaw]. First, there was a night stopover under the open sky, and in the morning selection for work duties.

Mr. Budnicki noticed some nuns, Grey Nuns from Warsaw, from Ordynacka Street. He went up to the Mother Superior and told her that he had an orphan, that he wasn't her father. She said, 'You will come to get her after the war?' 'Yes, yes, of course,' said Budnicki. When the nun saw me, she asked, 'My child, what's your name?' I said, 'Krysia Budnicka'. I went with the children from the orphanage to the Pruszkow transit camp [11]. Later it turned out that out of eighteen children, six were Jewish.
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Ms. Stefania Socha lived at 15, or 17, Podwale Street, in a studio flat on the first floor, and she took us in. She was a kind of patriotic drunk who kissed every metal badge with the Polish eagle [the national emblem]. Naturally, she knew that we were Jewish, that couldn't be disguised - we looked ghastly. At her place, we slept on the floor. We only spent a few days there, maybe a week.
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We began to receive assistance. A woman called Basia brought us various things and money. I think it could have been Basia Bermanowa [a liaison of the Jewish National Committee] [8].
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They carried the three of us out probably at Okopowa Street, where there was a candle factory. I know that Polish policemen [the so-called 'policja granatowa'] were among those securing our rescue. They took us to that Wasilewski. Then they washed us somehow. I was almost unconscious. I remember that I saw Rafal, and he asked me where our parents were, and I said that they had stayed behind and were waiting for help. Rafal pleaded with the people and they promised to return there the next night. There was contact with my parents through the manhole; I know that Valeriana drops were passed to them. But later the contact came to an end. Later it became dangerous there, even though Mr. Wasilewski was a decent man. They packed us, Rafal, Anka, Jidl and me, into four sacks, the kind with a small opening. After so many years, I finally saw that there was a world out there.
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When they tracked us down, it was already September 1943. Two girls from the bunker came into contact with the caretaker of a house somewhere on Okopowa Street; Wasilewski his name was. He later helped us. He cleaned around the manhole, and he would hand us slips of paper with information, and we would pass ours to him. One day a man came to us from the outside, carrying a backpack with food, I don't know who he was. He was a very nice young man. And he said, 'Don't worry, everything will be okay, we will take you away from here.' At that time there were thirteen of us: My mother, my father, four of my brothers - Icie, Chaim, Rafal and Jidl - I, Perla, Anka - Icie's wife - and two married couples.
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Janina Duda

And so, selling these things along the way, we reached a Polish village. We entered a house, the name of the peasant was Bronislaw Kotwicki, and we wanted to sell him something. ‘Where are you from?’ ‘From Rokytne, from the glassworks.’ He replied, ‘No, you’re Jews, but I will help you, I won’t hand you over to the Germans.’ So I thought, all or nothing, and said – ‘Yes, we are Jewish.’ And he said, ‘But I will help you.’ He gave us food, allowed us to wash ourselves and led us to the woods, where he had a hut, that was well hidden. He had 80 log hives [natural bee hive in the trunk of a tree, the shelter of wild bees] with honey. He brought us water, milk, honey and bread for three weeks. That’s true. A man, who had never before seen us in his life, kept us in his hut in the woods for three weeks; he brought us bread and honey, because he didn’t have anything else. As long as he could. How could I say a bad word about Poles as a nation?
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In Bielsk Podlaski we spent the night at a woman’s house, the notary’s wife. Her husband wasn’t home. She gave us a room, some straw, a sheet. There was a large orchard there. And because it was summertime we filled up on fruit. And, what’s interesting, I went to the mayor of the city, he was a senator [that is, the officials working there addressed him as ‘Mr. Senator’]. Erdman, I remember this name. So I asked him for an identity card and hid my Soviet one. He asked for my name, I gave my chosen last name, Zurek, and he asked them to put on my identity card ‘born in Vawkavysk’ [300 km east of Warsaw, today Belarus].
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My parents told me that when Haller came to Bialystok with his army [12] and they were looking for Jews, this Rozycki hid all his Jewish tenants in his basement and hung crosses in their apartments. He saved them from disgrace, because you can’t say what would have happened, death or disgrace.
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After the war, in the 1990s, a meeting was organized on the occasion of the anniversary of the creation of the Bialystok ghetto and I went there. And I have to admit that most of the Jews present there survived thanks to the help of Polish peasants, among whom they practically used to live and were only moved by the Germans during the occupation to the ghetto in Bialystok. And when it came to life or death, they chose to run away back to those villages and they managed to survive there. But I didn’t meet any natives of Bialystok. They simply didn’t have any contacts with the countryside.
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We kept walking, we found a forester’s hut. A Pole, Marian Surowiec, with his wife Gienia and a small boy, six or seven years old, was inside. We didn’t tell him we were Jewish. It turned out he didn’t love Jews very much, but he let us stay. He knew the Gestapo was looking for us, but he didn’t know we were Jewish. We stayed with him for several weeks. First of all, we bribed the ‘soltys’ [elected chair of a village council]. We had some Jewish coverlets hidden, we got them from those Jews in Vysotsk, we gave them to the ‘soltys.’ He just said, ‘Live here if you want to’ and that was it.
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After three weeks, he wasn’t there. We didn’t have a drop of water for three days, because I couldn’t drink from the canal, I vomited. Hunger. We didn’t know what was happening, we had to get out, because we would have died of hunger. And so we went back to the village, to him. And we asked, why? ‘Mister, those were Lithuanian szaulis [from the Lithuanian word ‘šaulis’, meaning ‘shooter’ – Lithuanian soldier serving the Nazi occupants between 1940-1945], they were combing the forests, looking for partisans and runaways. They didn’t find you, but I can’t keep you any longer. I don’t have anything.
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Alexandra Ribush

Employees of the 1st Medical Institute, who remained in Kislovodsk, had no means to live on. There was this professor Schaag, he was a German and he wasn't anti-Semitic. He obtained permission from the occupation officials to open a Medical Institute in Kislovodsk. A lot of young people were eager to attend paid studies. This was during the occupation. One of the buildings of the health center was meant for studies. There was a room in the building where Varvara hid us. Aunt Varvara lived in the laboratory, in which she worked. The laboratory was located in a big building. There was also one of these organizers of the NEMVAKHO Institute, who came from Leningrad, and worked with Schaag. He gave us this room for hiding. Varvara, her mother and the three of us lived in this room in the Medical Institute. We sold everything we had in order to buy food.
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