50 years after… – The Matuszczyki and Mucha family, Bronów, Działoszyce commune
Marianna and Stanisław Matuszczyk and their only daughter: Honorata and her husband Wojciech lived in Bronów, the Działoszyce commune.
Before the war, there was a friend of theirs, a Jewish grain merchant Federman who lived in the nearby Dziewięczyce. On 3 September 1942 marks the beginning of the Jewish population deportation to the extermination camp in Bełżec. Federman and his wife and three sons managed to escape.
They wandered around in the surrounding fields and forests. However it was not possible to hide in such conditions. They decided to go to the Krakow ghetto and try to survive there. Their sons: Hyman, Pinchas and Jozef decided to ask the locals for help. They knocked on the Matuszczykis’ door .
“They came here and asked me to take allow them in to stay with is for a week or two. They had already been to other places, to no avail … My grandfather took pity on them … they were supposed to stain in for a short time. That time turned out to be much longer “- says Wiesława Kłębek, Honorata and Wojciech Mucha daughter.
A small hideout in a barn was made for them – one could only sit or lie in there. The entrance was concealed with straw. Twice a day someone would bring food in a bucket. Tapping on the board was the signal. At night, the Jews came out of the hiding. During the day, Stanisław Matuszczyk talked to them about the current situation and how long the war might last whilst he was working in the barn.
The hardest thing was cooking – Honorata was responsible for that. “In the past people used to talk to each other much more often, not like today. The neighbours came round and asked: Matuszkowa, why do you need so much food for? People could sense that there was something iffy … “- says Wiesława Kiełębek.
It became risky to offer the hiding place for the Jews. The fear was aggravated. One day Stanisław Matuszczyk asked the Federman brothers to leave the hiding place. They returned after less than a month. The host gave a silent consent for them to hide in.
However, there were rumours that Jews were kept at Matuszczyks. The Germans also heard this rumour. The Germans came in to carry out the inspection which almost ended in a tragedy …
“My dad came out with a 2-year-old son. The Germans ordered him to put down the child and throw the straw aside. Grandfather Matuszczyk saw that it was very close the the hiding place. He faced the Germans and said: if you find Jews here, I shall get the first bullet. And there was just one layer of straw left. The Germans were filled with doubts. They gave up and drove away” – says Wiesława.
Those in the hiding were sure that after this face to face encounter with death, the hosts would surely throw them out. That did not happen, though. They survived until the end of the war at the Matuszczyks and the Muchas. Then they left for Kraków and then to the United States.
Initially, they kept in touch, but then they broke off the contact for 50 years. “Mum felt sorry about it.” – says Wiesława. However, one day a car pulled off in front of the Matuszczyks and Muchas house in Bronów. The driver got out and asked: “Did you keep the Jews during the war?” In the car there were the daughter, son-in-law and grandchildren of ones in the hidding. The Hyman Federman son-in-law – Menachem Daum put forward the initiative to find the Polish family. “Hiding and Seeking. Faith and Tolerance After Holocaust. ”
The Matuszczyks and Muchas were honoured the Righteous Among the Nations title in 2003.