The hoofbeat could be heard from far away. The sound of even tapping of hooves was reaching the Wozniak’s house, it did not seem to indicate anything bad. None of the family members had yet sensed that a cavalcade of death was coming towards them. Genowefa felt safe among her parents and her beloved siblings. She did not pay attention to the short exchange of opinions of her parents, busy talking to her brother Kazimierz.
– Is Franek back already? – Stanisław said loudly to his wife Julianna.
– I don’t think so, he just left – Julianna replied slightly concerned. They exchanged a short glance. Julianna also stealthily looked at her children. Gienia was so much like her.
Outside, the autumn coloured leaves were carried upwards by a strong gust of wind, and clouds of dust were blowing up. It was only when the horses were being driven right under the windows that the Wozniak family became more curious and slightly nervous. Gienia interrupted her conversation with Kazimierz and led her father to the door with her eyes. Stanislaw went out into the courtyard to check if it was the son who had already returned or if someone had come to them unannounced.
Outside he noticed two horse-drawn carriages and German gendarmes. He felt a tingling sensation in his knees and his legs slightly bent out of fear. He did not manage to say a word when one of the gendarmes shot at him. His body slipped to the ground inertly.
Inside the house there are three of Stanisław’s four children and his wife Julianna.
Hearing the shot outside, everyone panicked, Julianna started pushing the children out the window. However, there was not enough time. A few moments after Stanislaw was killed, the Germans entered their house.
Julianna tried to surround the three children with her arms. Genowefa cuddled up into the warm hands of her mother. The children’s scared eyes did not affect the Germans.
– Please do not hurt them – Julianna fell to her knees before the military police. – They are just children. I beg you. Spare them – she lamented.
Julianna’s begging and despair have been of no use. With four shots fired by the German, Julianna and her three children – Genowefa, Kazimierz and Stanislaw – were killed. Just a moment ago, their mother surrounded them with her shoulder, now their bodies were lying motionless on the floor.
The German police from Dęblin were guided solely by suspicion. They had no evidence, they did not find any Jews in the buildings.
The slaughter of the Woźniak family survived only the son Franciszek, who, on that unlucky day, on 25 November, left in the morning in a wagon with a wood to a village nearby. Unaware of the tragic events, he returned home, to Grabów Szlachecki, where he found nothing but a debris. The Germans burned down the house, together with the bodies of the murdered, and plundered all the property.
Julianna’s desperate son, who started to clean up the rubble and took care of the burial of his entire family.
The Germans did not give up. They showed up the next day and questioned Franciszek, crushed and unconscious in despair.
– Were there Jews here? When? Where? – The same officers who mercilessly executed Franciszek’s parents and siblings the day before were asking.
– I don’t know, leave me alone. You killed my whole family! – Franciszek was screaming.
Courage in words and no fear of the gendarmes surprised the Germans. They felt a bit of compassion in their cold hearts.
– Go to the Wola Okrzańska estate, there we put the trunk with your belongings. There you will find two of your cows. Go now. – said one of the gendarmes questioning Franciszek.
Mentally broken, devastated and without family, Franciszek Woźniak lived on. He knew exactly what incident the Germans were asking about.
Long before the cruel execution, the Woźniak family supported and helped a man of Jewish origin who had escaped from a railway transport. They dressed his wounded leg and gave him food for further journey.
No extra materials