Tychy, 25 May 2002
I shall respond to your letter, dated 16 May, in the same order.
We lived in Lublin at Tatarska Street 18 or Firlejowska Street 36 – at the Krausse brothers’ mill. Our house was the first one in the area of the mill. My father, Ludwik Skoczyński, was a co-owner of the mill, which used to belong to his mother, Wanda Skoczyńska, née Krausse. This was in the district of Kalinowszczyzna.
Our home – a small manor house – was an old building which used to belong to our great- great grandparents. At the end of 1880 a bathroom and a room for servants had been added. There was a separate cellar below, unconnected to the sub-basement of the main house.
Normally we never used it, it was covered by a steel trapdoor, on top of which we kept a case with dirty laundry.
When the Jews were being deported to the ghetto, they contacted my father and hid at our place, but I don’t remember the date. The trapdoor was removed, and they could push the case aside and back on their own. When the kitchen door facing the yard was closed, they could walk about the kitchen and bathroom, and cook some meals for themselves – they needed movement and air just like anybody else.
Nuchim Kudeńczyk and Gryf (I don’t remember his surname) sold cows and kept their cows in our barn.
Our housekeeper, Władysława Truszczyńska, lived in Płock at Obrońców Street 22 in her small house. I was there in 1984 during my stay in the sanatorium in Ciechocinek, but we don’t exchange letters.
You asked whether my father was engaged in the underground. As far as I know – he was not. He never agreed to swear an oath but he helped out a lot. My sister was (she died on 11 July 1943), and when Władysław Świca got wounded somewhere near Lubartów and could no longer hide there, they brought him to us. He was lying in bed in my father’s office and a nurse slept on the couch (there was even an arm amputation due to gangrene which took place at our house).
Our house was open, and on many occasions 10-12 boys from the forest stayed there (Władysław was their tutor).
We were denounced.
You were surprised that my mother and I had to hide. After father’s arrest the Germans came over on several occasions and kept asking about us.
The Germans knew that we were hiding someone but they didn’t know whom and they were surprised to find this man – officer Władysław Świca, for whom they had been searching for a long time – which made me think that this made them stop looking.
Władysław was shot together with my father during a public execution. My father came to say goodbye to me at 11 p.m. A Gestapo man was standing behind him. There were dolls and teddy bears in my room, I had braids – they probably thought I was a child, so they let us say goodbye – one last time.
I don’t know why the Jewish women who walked out were dressed in black, but many people at that time were in mourning. Bronia Kudeńczyk and her mother were very pretty. I know that out of this group of 10 one travelled abroad, but I don’t remember their name – this was many years ago.
You asked how we fed so many people. For some time my father was the head of a fishing cooperative. There was no shortage of fish, cows were calving, so we had calves and poultry. I didn’t know how my parents settled accounts, I had no interest in that. I was too young.
Besides, I always thought that if you were helping someone, you should not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing. That’s how I was raised.
And now the final question. When I became a married woman after the war, I never mentioned at home that my parents had been hiding Jews – this was obvious. The children knew about this officer, because this was the reason why my father had been arrested, why I was in hiding and experienced the uprising – and a few hours in Pruszków – and yet we lost everything. After some time the Germans took everything from the house.
It is possible that I haven’t answered every question fully, so feel free to ask me more. We mustn’t forget our story, so while there is still time – for we are becoming ever fewer – I will answer.