Władysław Koński, son of Franciszek and Maria, née Kłak, was born on 19 January 1906 in the village of Pleników.
In 1926 he worked as a trainee forester on the Ponikwa estate, district of Brody, Tarnopol Voivodeship. In 1927 he was hired as a forester for this estate. In 1928 Władysław Koński married Eugenia Wesołowska (daughter of Marian and Stanisława, née Marecka), born on 28 October 1906 in the village of Stryj. They had one child – a daughter named Maria, born on 25 April 1929.
In the summer of 1938 Władysław Koński started working in another workplace. He became a forester in the Fidest forest, commune of Kamieńczyk by the Bug river, near Wyszków. The pay was much better there. In addition to money, a forester received a six-room house, farm buildings, a horse, a bicycle, several hectares of farmland and meadows, fuel wood, and a settling-in allowance.
The Second World War broke out a year later. The Nazi occupation began. Fidest was a perfect location given the circumstances of the occupation. The house and the field constituted an island among the marshes with which very few insiders were familiar enough to cross. Władysław Koński (my father) worked as a forester this whole time. This provided him with the opportunity to fictitiously or actually employ men as forest workers. One such example was a man registered in the German employment office as a deputy forester – Ryszard Cackowski, Lieutenant of the Home Army, leader of the unit of the Home Army in the Jadów district.
Every day our family of three cooked dinner for a dozen or so people. The house was full of people “hired” as domestic help. They were mostly young men, members of the resistance who were in hiding. They usually didn’t stay for long – a day or a couple of days.
In the spring of 1943, a group of officers of the Jewish Combat Organization (six or seven people) came to us. Father settled them in specially devised underground hiding places, deep in the forest, 300 meters away from the forester’s lodge.
We provided them with food and underground press. Zygmunt and Janek were the liaisons. They would come over at the agreed hour at night. Several days later (I don’t remember the exact date) my father brought two people home – a married couple, Felicja and Mieczysław Kalinowski. They were both twenty-something years of age. They were officially registered: Felicja as kitchen help, and Mieczysław as a shepherd. Both were the employees of the private household of forester Koński. The Kalinowski family lived with us until the time when the Soviet Army entered these lands, in 1944.
After the war Zygmunt visited Fidest “to scout”, as he put it. He told us which members of his group had survived and what was going on with them. A few of them – including Janek – died during the Warsaw Uprising. One married couple left Poland and two other officers were about to leave. The Kalinowski family, residing in Łódź, were hesitating. Zygmunt was going to stay in the country. He is a doctor by the name of Zygmunt Skórnik, and he lives in Łódź, where he has a job and an apartment.
After Dr. Skórnik’s visit we received a very kind letter from the Kalinowski family from Łódź, inviting us to visit them.
In 1948 my father was officially transferred to the Kurpie forests. He was appointed chief forester in the Parciaki forestry management near Ostrołęka. After four or five years (I don’t remember the dates) he was promoted again and he moved to Huta Garwolińska to work as a regional inspector of the State Forests. Another five years later he was transferred to the Directorate of State Forests in Siedlce, where he worked as an inspector until he retired. He died in Siedlce in 1974.
The Kalinowski family left Poland in 1948. In my father’s documents I found their photograph, taken in Marseille, and a letter sent from Austria. According to the letter, the majority of the correspondence from abroad never got delivered. The only other thing I found was this entry in the telephone notepad: “Dr. Zygmunt Skórnik, Łódź, Bednarska Street 26, tel.84-14-28”.
I phoned this number several times after my father’s death, but no one answered.