Wojtowiczów family lived in the village of Hanaczów, approximately 28 km from the city. Szczepan and Katarzyna raised their sons in the spirit of patriotism and in sense of duty. Kazimierz (born 7 March, 1913), Alojzy (born 27 December, 1918), Antoni (born 25 June, 1920) were involved in underground activities.
Thanks to their courage and strategical decisions, many Jews from Hanaczów and surrounding areas survived the war. „Perhaps unprecedented in the scale of Poland, the fact that in one AK’s territory, 250 Jews hid in the same village, of which about 180 were able to survive and wait for their liberation in July 1940”.1
The pre-war social relations in Hanaczowie were at a friendly level. „About 65 Jews, both adults and children, lived in Hanaczów in 12 houses built throughout the village. They had their own synagogue. Most of them lived modestly and did not stand out from the rest of the population”.2 Rich Jews also lived there – the owners of slaughterhouse and store.
The situation of Jewish people changed in 1941, when the territory of Hanaczów was taken over by German troops.3 „Not only were they outlawed, it also changed the attitude of Ukrainian Nationalist from Siedlisk and Podjarkowa – who announced the existence of the so called „samostijner Ukrain” in this territory – toward them. People of Jewish origin were thrown out of their homes, their property taken, and they themselves were deprived of the means to live”. „Particularly cruelly pointed out to them by The police of Ukrainian nationalists in the service of the Germans was especially cruel to them.
In the area of Hanaczowa, Przemyślany and Bóbrka, the police began creating ghettos for them. The Jews from Hanaczów did not obey instructions from the German authorities”4. They hid in the forest and stayed with the reliable people, who agreed to shelter them.
For those hiding in the woods, the situation was quite safe, as those areas were controlled by the Polish Forest Commando. More and more Jews converged there. Even those from Lwów, Bobrki and nearby settlements. Polish headquarters under the command of commandant „Głóg” organized the Commando of Self-defence for Jews. The unit was equipped with weapons received from AK, bought for a large sum of money from the Ukrainians, or taken after the attacks on the German and Ukrainian outposts. Jewish guerrilla unit operated under the leadership of Abram Baum, „Bunia”, who took part in the defense of Hanaczów. Leopold Kleinmann (Kozłowski), „Poldek”, among the others, served in it. After the war, he became a famous composer.
In June 1942, the commandant of the local AK issued the order to assist the escaped Jews. „The forest became a refuge for them, as the Germans were afraid to go in without the participation of major military forces. However in the second half of 1943, they organized a pacification campaign in the Hanaczów’s forests”5. Detachment of SS and police arrived in the vicinity of Przemyślany. In great conspiracy, families willing to shelter Jews were being sought. About 35 people, mostly women and children, were taken into the village. Ensign J. Stawiński, in accordance with the order from lieutenant B. Kawka-Dembiński, he issued the withdrawal of the units into Romanowsko-Kocurowskie woods. This involved finding shelter for about 150 Jews, which was to be dealt with by a sergeant, Kazimierz Wojtowicz. At this time, ensign Alojzy Wojtowicz, „Jurand”, was instructed to hide about 80 women and children in Hanaczów and Hanaczówka. „He fulfilled his task very well, by dressing all eighty of Jewish women in rural clothing”.6 Pacification began on September 2, 1943. The Germans arrested around eight Jews, who failed to escape. „Enraged Germans destroyed almost all bunkers built by the Jews.”7.
In winter 1943/44 the Jews began to suffer from typhus, which also spread in the countryside. Around 120 people died. The school was turned into a hospital. People were treated there, regardless of their nationality.
The consequences of the Wojtowicz brothers were felt by their parents, Szczepan (born in 1880) and Katarzyna (born in 1889) During the German occupation, Szczepan was appointed as the head of the collective commune in Pohorylce. In September 1943, the Gestapo searched for him as a result of his sons underground activities. Katarzyna Wojtowicz was arrested on 7 September, 1943, during a search in their family home. She was released, but she was obliged to check in at the police in Przemyślany.
In 1993 brothers Wojtowicz were awarded with the title of Righteous Among the Nations of the World. Antoni Wojtowicz received his title posthumously.
- B. Biegalski, A. Wojtowicz, L. Wojtowicz, Ocalić od zapomnienia. Kronika I Brygady Kadrowej V Dywizji Lwowskiej 1945-1956, Zielona Góra 2002.
- A. Wojtowicz, A. Wojtowicz, Kronika małej Ojczyzny w Lwowskim Okręgu AK-NIE-WiN,Zielona Góra 1992.
- FLV, List od Wandy Wojtowicz z 27.09.2013 r.
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