The Kaszubas family from Żydówka, the Kije commune
The house was built in Żydówek [a Jewish village] 7 km away from Chmielnik. Although in 1935, the house is still there. Stanisław and Antonina Kaszuba with their children – Stefan, Daniela and Ryszard used to live there during the war times. My father attached a great importance to this place. He did not want to get rid of the house. And I gave him my word that I would not sell it off –says Stefan’s daughter, Renata Kaszuba-Czop. The Kaszubas made a living by trading in tobacco and alcohol. The concessions was granted to Stanisław who used to be Józef Piłsudski’s legionnaire. The concession was a compensation for Stanisław’s lost leg at the battle of Warsaw. The concession was used by the Jewish family of Szor. They ran a shop in Chmielnik, before the war the town which was 80% inhabited by Jews.
When the war broke out the Szor family was transported to the Chmielnik ghetto. The Kaszuba family would offer a hiding to the Szor family before the first Jews deportation to the concentration camps. The Szor father begged the grandfather for a hiding place for the whole family, or at least to hide his wife and these youngest children if there was no place for all of them. Well, they tried to offer a shelter to all of them. Later it was a different story that did not go according to the original plan … –says Renata Kaszuba-Czop, Stefan Kaszuba’s daughter. The Szor family stayed in the hiding until they resolved the situation had calmed down. They returned to Chmielnik and then the Germans organized another deportation to Treblinka. The Szors were seized then. The mother with younger children managed to escape. The father, Natan Szor and the oldest daughter were deported and murdered in Treblinka.
Alta Szor with her four sons and her daughter Sarah sought help from the Kaszubas family. They would hide there until the end of the war. The Jewish Kozłowski couple joined later on.
As many as 8 people hid in a small, 10 square meters room for over 2.5 years. Only Sara was befriended with Stefan and therefore lived in one room with Kaszubas. She pretended to be the daughter of the Kaszubas family. “(Sarah) rarely went out into the yard, but she did not hide. “– recalls Renata Kaszuba-Czop. And she adds:
Dad said it was a hard time. It was hard to feed them. There food was scarce. The little food they had was shared with the big family. But my grandmother was a very good housewife. She had the ability to make something out of nothing.
Two taps on the wall was the signal for the Jews. Whenever there was a threat they went down to the basement which had been dug under the floor of the room. The hiding place was covered with a flap in the floor to conceal it.
Then there was another challenge in winter 1944 – the Germans had the Kaszubas family make a small room available as a storage place. At night, Stefan Kaszuba had to make a pit to free the people trapped under the floor. From then on the Jews had to hide in the barn in spite of the harsh winter. Against all odds, they all survived. The house and the small room which was the Jews’ hiding place have been preserved to this day …
Stanisław and Antonina Kaszuba with their children – were honoured with the Righteous Among the Nations title in 1993.
Renata Kaszuba-Czop, Stefan Kaszuba’s daughter tells the family story.