– You Polish pig, we won’t let you die until you tell us the names, understand? – yelled the German to the severely beaten Józef Ryba. The man was dripping with blood, every inch of his body was in pain and all he dreamed of was death. „Over my dead body! You will not get a name out of me!” – he swore to himself, and with that resolve he passed away… He was barely 24 years old and until that February night, there was nothing to indicate that he would have to say goodbye to his life. The whole family, the neighbours, they had all been cautious, or at least had tried to be… None of them could have denounced him, because everyone had been involved to some extent in helping him. Or rather, not „to some” extent, but to an enormous extent. They lent hiding places in their private buildings, obtained false documents, fed, provided clothing and medicine. „It was impossible to do otherwise. They needed help,” Józef Kałuża recalled years later. And all this for Jews who had escaped from the nearby ghetto in Pilsen.
Józef Ryba and his family sheltered two Jewish women at their home in the village of Jaworze Dolne. One of them, Szynferowa, had two children. Fortunately, at the time of the German raid, the women were no longer in the house – they managed to escape, having heard the shots and horrible noises coming from the neighbourhood. No one had any doubt that these were Germans. It is evident that the omnipresent anonymous „Mr. Snitch” must have kept an eye on the Poles of Jaworze Dolne and did not hesitate to inform the German officers about what he saw… The list of people to be investigated was opened by Jan and Wiktoria Psioda, their daughter Józefa Kałuża with her husband Jan and children: Maria, Stefania and Józef. The Ryba family was also recorded in the list.
The Germans left the Psioda’s house perhaps not entirely satisfied, but in some kind of mood: they managed to capture and shoot a Mendel Ekstejn. They pushed him and the Poles present in the house, i.e. Wiktoria and Jan Psioda and their eldest granddaughter Maria, out into the yard and started torturing them with mockery. When they got a bit tired and bored with the competition of inventing the most horrible torments, they shot the massacred Poles and the Jew.
Next in line were Jan and Józefa Kałuża with their children. In their stable, there was an underground hiding place where, since the beginning of the German campaign, the Jews had spent their nights and sometimes even their days. Now, panic gripped the house. – Salomon, Romek – hide! They are coming! – shouted Józek. Salomon Kampf quickly climbed up the stairs and hid in the attic. He held his breath and only let it out when the Germans had left – or so he thought. He himself could not believe that they had not discovered him. They were within reach. Roman Thau also „got away with it” – at the last moment Józek hid him in… the chimney. The Germans, enraged by the unsuccessful hunt, decided to defuse their discontent somehow. – Bring that Pole here! – growled one of the officers. – Get that Pole over here! – growled one of the officers. – And beat him as much as you can – he ordered. When they left, Józef lay beaten almost to the point of unconsciousness. It took him a long time to recover. He 'got what he deserved’: he was the one who organized false papers for those in hiding. Thanks to him, Roman Thau’s two sisters and brother were assigned to forced labour. Roman lived to see the end of the war and went to Germany, Salomon Kampf also managed to survive. After 1945, he emigrated to the United States.
On that horrible February night, the Gestapo together with Wehrmacht soldiers murdered, apart from the found Jews, five Poles: Maria Kałuża (28), Józef Maduś (68), Jan Psioda (71) and his wife Wiktoria (71), as well as Józef Ryba (24).
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