Józef and Maria Szulc lived with their teenage sons Zbigniew and Leszek in Stryj village (former Stanisławska voivodship). Józef ran the meat factory, thanks to which the family prospered very well.
Leszek remembers after many years: „Stryj, the city where I was born, before the war counted about 35 thousand residents and approx. 5 thousand stationed. Half of the population was Jewish, about 25%. Poles and next 25% the Ukrainians, then called Russians. We lived in a good and fair way until the days when various political currents began to flow. Ukrainians found themselves in Nazism, Jews in communism.1
When in 1939 Russians came in, the family’s father said, „What’s going to happen at home is just our secret.”2. Everyone got engaged in underground activities. At their home, a magazine of weapons and explosives was organized.
In June of 1942 the town was occupied by German troops. The ghetto was created. In autumn began the first transports from the ghetto to the death camp in Bełżec. In 1943 there was a complete liquidation of the ghetto – the remaining ones were shot in the forest in Hołbut village.3 Only a few survived – they escaped or helped them local population. Among the survivors were: Jonasz and Sara Friedler saved by Szulc family.
In the Stryj ghetto was shot, by Ukrainian bandits, one of the former employees who worked before at Józef’s factory. The Jews took him out from the ghetto on the cart and threw him wounded next to the nearby river. They thought he was dead but they were wrong. Man along the river, crawled to Szulc’s estate. The Jew, covered in blood, was found by Leszek. Józef’s family provided a first aid for a man. When he came to himself, returned to the ghetto. In the camp work, at Krzywa street, he told his firends that he was saved by Szulc family.
For Friedler’s marriage this story was a source of hope for survival.
The labor camp bordered with the orchard and property of the Nawalnicki women. Jonasz asked them to invite Szulc’s marriage to their house. Later the same evening, the women invited marriage and when they came, one of them asked Józef to go to the orchard to meet Mr. Friedler there. When Józef saw the man, he did not ask about anything. He just said that he would be waiting with his son and dog on Skolska street tomorrow night – vis a vis gas station – and he went away. Józef returned to Nawalnickich nervous. With raised voice said that they are leaving, and women should take care of themselves, because of them his family can lose their lives. Disoriented and outraged Maria, could not understand why her husband had behaved so rude to the Nawalnic women, who had invited them. Józef explained that it was about the Friedler’s life. The woman was frightened at first: not only were they part of the conspiracy, they were about to give help, which would mean death. Józef said: „Listen, Mańka – if someone tell about us and Home Army, we will hang anyway. If they do not catch us, we will not hang, and the Friedlers will be saved. And if not – we all will die.4.
The next day Józef and his son were waiting for the Fidlers. Behind Szulc’s appeared two Ukrainian policemen. The Fidlers saw them and joined in a loving embrace – they pretended to be lovers. Then they came to Józef and Leszek, who gave them a dog on a leash. The animal was supposed to take the marriage to the estate.
The Szulc’s hid Jonasz and Sara in the barn. Maria brought them food, emptied the bucket of impurities. However, they did not stay there long enough, because there was a flood in Stryj village. Józef changed their hideout to a hidden dovecote in the attic. There the Jews spent the winter. As the village was approached by the front of the Red Army and the German troops withdrew from the area, the Szulc’s hid the Jewish couple in the kitchen locker. There Jonasz and Sara have been waiting for liberation.
After the war, Friedler’s marriage left to the United States. Jonasz and Sara kept close contact with Józef and Maria, and after their death – with their son Leszek.
November 10, 1997 Józef, Maria and Leszek Szulc – in recognition of their heroic attitude presented to Jonasz and Sara Friedler – were recognized as the Righteous Among the Nations.
- I. Gutman, Polscy Sprawiedliwi wśród Narodów Świata, [w:] Księga Sprawiedliwych wśród Narodów Świata. Ratujący Żydów podczas Holocaustu. Polska, cz. I, red. wyd. pol. D. Libionka, R. Kuwałek, A. Kopciowski, Kraków 2009.
- Portal internetowy Sztetl – Muzeum Historii Żydów Polskich POLIN, [strona internetowa:] http://www.sztetl.org.pl/pl/article/stryj/5,historia/?action=view&page=3, dostęp: 08.05.2017 r.
- [Strona internetowa:], https://sprawiedliwi.org.pl/pl/historie-pomocy/historia-pomocy-rodzina-szulcow; dostęp: 08.05.2017 r., [Historii Żydów Polskich POLIN, Historia pomocy- rodzina Szulców; Historii Żydów Polskich POLIN, Kukła Hitlera. Relacja Leszka Szulca].
- G. Szkopek, Przyjechał sprawiedliwy, [strona internetowa:] http://www.tp.com.pl/drobin-raciaz/przyjechal-sprawiedliwy.html, dostęp: 08.05.2017 r., [„Tygodnik Płocki” 2014 r.].
- FLV, Nagranie video, relacja Leszka Jana Szulca, Warszawa, 09.12.2015 r.
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