That was the life -Józef Kobyłko and Alfred Stolarczyk, née Kobyłko. Kielce
For a few years, not much has been said about saving Jews in Kielce. Until today this topic has not been fully examined and described. Many of families’ stories have not been documented although these families might be eligible to be presented with the “Righteous Among the Nations” medal. Józefa Kobyłko’s story is one of such examples. Before and during the war she lived in Skrajna street. After her husband’s death she raised two as a single parent: Alfreda and Gienek. The family lived in poverty.
In 1942 the Germans deported several thousand Jews from the Kielce ghetto to the Treblinka extermination camp. Some 1,500 to 2,000 Jews stayed in Kielce, that was about 10% of the original number. The Jews were sent to forced labour camps which operated at factories. Adam Romankiewicz age 16 escaped from one of such camps…
It was 1943. 12-year-old Alfred, when leaving her house saw the 3 young boys who were escaping being caught by the Germans. Two of them were shot. The third one disappeared, the Germans were looking for him high and low. They also carried homes searches.
The next morning the escapee knocked on Mrs. Józefa’s house door. The house was located in some distance from other buildings. The boy was naked, wounded, foul-smelling. He turned out to have spent the whole night in faeces tank of the Germans built toilette. We did not know him, we did not know who he was … but he was begging – let me in … we allowed him to enter and he stayed with us for over 8 months– recalls Alfreda Stolarczyk.
Adam was wounded and unable to not walk. Józefa got hold of medicaments for the boy; she contacted Jews who were forced to work in a glassworks. The household was pretty poor; not enough fuel, clothes and first and foremost – lack of food. Alfreda would contact the cooks who worked in the facility which prepared meals for the Germans and railwaymen. The cooks and Alfreda’s mother were friends. In secret Alfreda got some soup;. this was the whole family’s meal, including the one in the hiding.
Then Józef was seriously ill. The teenage Alfreda had to take over all the mother’s duties, including the care over the younger brother. She made all possible attempts to obtain food and fuel.It was horribly cold … 30 degrees below zero… I did not have any shoes to wear. We had no money to buy a pair for me. I remember that I covered my legs with a dress, I was so cold … but I brought the food. We shared everything we had –Mrs Alfred is moved.
Adam left Józefa Kobyłko’s house in 1944. Alfreda’s and Gienek’s mom died when Kielce became war-theatre again. Children were taken care of by strangers for several years. Adam tried to contact them all that time. 4 years after the war, 17-year-old Alfred visited Adam. He offered a joint trip to Opole. Adam already had a wife and a little son. However, Adam’s wife was tormented having lost her parents in Auschwitz. She did not take care of the child. Alfred was taking care of the baby. Today she recollects: Adam … he wanted to marry me. And wanted to take me to Israel with him. But I said: Adaś, I have a brother. I will not leave him all alone here. After Adam had left for Israel, the families stayed in touch for some time.