About 2500 Jews lived in the town of Stawiski before the occupation. Most of them died during war at the hands of the occupant. Today no one of the Jewish origin lives there. Jankiel Piekarewicz was one of the few who managed to survive. The boy survived thanks to his cleverness and assistance of many local Poles.
Jankiel Piekarewicz lived in Stawiska together with his parents (Barbara and Pinhas) and siblings. His father and grandfather (Lew Mejer) Jankiel Piekarewicz were blacksmiths. Jews and Poles from the surrounding used their services. Jankiel went to school with Polish children. Their teacher was a Jewess, Róża Hackerowa. During holidays, the boy herded cows, so that he could financialy support his family. Until the outbreak of the war Pankierewicz led quite and happy life.
In July 1941, when Jankiel’s family was visiting his grandfather, Lew was visited by the German officers with an order to leave their house immediately.
All Jews were supposed to go to the Rynek, from where, as they were told, they would be transported for forced labor. Jankiel guessed that the occupant’s intentions were quite different. The boy hid in the barn. At night he went to Trzask, near Jedwabne, to Teodo Chrzanowski, a friend of his grandfather.
Teodor and his wife lived in the colony. Their son was taken by the German officers for forced labor to Germany. Teodor was blind, he couldn’t do anything: he couldn’t take care of the farm, and the quota for Germans was very high. Chrzanowscy lived very modestly – sometimes they didn’t even had anything to eat. Since 1941, two Jews hid at their place, helping them at the farm.
Jankiel came to their home during the night, and hid in the attic. He was found by Teodor’s wife. The boy was scarred, cold and hungry. He explained that he ran away from his grandparent’s house, who was taken to Germany for forced labor: „I was eleven years old When I Escaped to Trzask. I hid in the attic, where I was found by Mrs Bagińska, Teodor’s wife. She was a good women. She checked that I’m circumcised, but still accepted me as if I was her son. She fed me. Taught me: I’m Marian, Maniek. Taught me prayers, songs and Polish rhymes.”1 Neighbors were told, that he was her sister’s boy.
On November 2, 1942 German officers entered Trzask. They searched for Jews. They entered houses, pigsties, and shots were heard in the area. At the time, Jankiel and one of the Jewish assistants were at the home. The other one worked in the field. Teodor’s wife was sweeping the snow at the barn’s entrance. When she saw Germans, she ran into the house, screaming that the Germans were coming. „Adult Jew ran outside. I heard shots. I got dressed, took the bucket. Two Germans came into the backyard and stopped near the well. „What are you doing?”, asked one of them. The boy replied: „I’m getting water for cows”. I took a bucket and hid in the pigsty.”2 Officers entered the house.
Jankiel managed to come out from this situation alive, but his companion was not so lucky. When the man ran out of the house, he was spotted the officers and shot during his escape. Teodor together with his wife was taken to jail in Łomża. The house was sealed. At night, Jankiel broke the window, went inside, took his things, packed some food and went on his way. He spent some time in the neighborhood, sleeping in the haystacks. He begged people for work, telling them that he was an orphan.
Charznowski family was released from prison after three months of torture. The both declined that they were supposedly hiding Jews. They claimed that Teodor’s wife went inside to drive away the man that fled from Germans into their house.
In 1944, Jankiel Stayed at Jan Sienkiewicz’s, whom he helped in the workshop. When the occupation began, Lew Mejer’s family was starving. They had no grinder, nor grain. They were being helped by the Leokadia and Jan Sienkiewicz. Leokadia was passing them milled flour through the window: „He came [Jankiel] wearing rags, almost barefoot, during winter 1944-1945. Germans were still here. The Red Army was getting closer. I was afraid, but Jan took the boy in. We clothed him in Zbyszko’s clothes. Always kept three of the boys in the backyard, so that he could stay inside the house, so that no one could see him. Little Pikarewicz was about 14-years-old when he came to them. Chrzanowska, wife of Teodor Chrzanowski from Trzask, called him Maniek and so did we. 3
After the war, when they searched for survivors of the Jewish origin, Sienkiewicz family took him to the police station in Łomża. From there he was sent to the orphanage in Chorzów, from which in 1948 he was sent to Israel and enlisted into the army.
Jankiel created a family there and changed his name (Jakub). He was found by his uncle Szloma in Israel. Years later, Jakub found out that his whole family was executed by the Germans near Mśćiwuje.
- FLV, List od Wandy Sienkiewicz, Stawiski, [brak daty].
- FLV, List od Wandy Sienkiewicz [relacja p. Bagińskiej, siostry żony Teodora Chrzanowskiego], Stawiski, [brak daty]
- FLV, List od Wandy Sienkiewicz [relacja Jakuba Piekarewicza, 2010 r.], Stawiski [brak daty].
- FLV, List od Wandy Sienkiewicz [relacja Leokadii Sienkiewicz], Stawiski, [brak daty].
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