The basement of a home in Poland that was used to hide Jews during the Holocaust has been listed as a national heritage site.
The subterranean space, the only known hiding place of its kind still in existence, was located by a Jewish heritage organisation, and found to have been untouched since two Christian Polish families in Rekówka, two hours’ south of Warsaw, hid six Jews and 10 Poles from the Nazis.
In 1942, after a neighbour had told the authorities about what they were doing, German soldiers descended on the farm building jointly owned by the Skoczylas and Kosiorów families.
The Jews were not there, but the Nazis found a book written in Yiddish, which they took as proof. They rounded up 10 members of the two families, including children, took them to a barn, locked them inside and set fire to it, shooting a child who managed to escape.
“This hiding place is a crucial part of remembering and honouring their bravery,” said Jonny Daniels, president of From The Depths, an organisation working to preserve Jewish sites in Poland.
- In October 2014, Jewish News travelled to Poland to find out about From the Depths. Read our report here: From the Depths: Reclaiming Jewish heritage, a headstone at a time
“To be the first Jew in here, more than 70 years after these families gave their lives hiding Jews in it, fills me with so many difficult emotions.”
Rafal Nadolny, head of conservation for Masovian District, said: “It is very important that future generations can personally touch a site like this, such as one learns of in memoirs and historical studies.”
Daniels added that the search was now on for the six Jews who took shelter in the specially-adapted basement. He also wants to preserve the site. “They paid the ultimate price for their bravery,” he said.
“The least we can do as a foundation is make sure this hiding place, the only known hiding place still in existence, is preserved and kept for generations to come.”