The boy pushed himself up against the wall. He held his breath for a moment. He felt the dampness of the dog’s nose on him, felt the warmth of the breath of the two hounds, and suddenly… suddenly the hounds were gone. They ran up again. And they were gone again. For good. Just like that. There was no barking to summon the Ukrainian owners, no canine: „Come here, see who we have found! We deserve a tasty treat for this’. The animals ran out of the chamber. The nine-year-old lay still under the bed for some time, waiting for all noises to die down. He himself did not realise that he had spent the whole day there. When it was already dark, Szyja Flajsz carefully crawled out of his hiding place, slipped out of the building, silently jumped over the ghetto walls and finally reached the river. He crossed it and hid in a mound of hay. He was exhausted. He did not believe that this time he would succeed. He had escaped from the ghetto square three times before, and each time the Ukrainians caught him. This time, however, they did not find him. Szyja was an orphan – his parents and sisters had been murdered in August 1942 during a cruel massacre in the Bereski ghetto, from where he had just managed to escape.
The nine-year-old reached the Woronówka village, where he encountered Zygmunt and Olga Kuriat. – If we leave him, sooner or later he will get caught and you know what will happen next…” the couple discussed among themselves. In the end, they offered the boy shelter at their home. They themselves had a 4-year-old son Henry and were taking care of an orphaned girl; they lived together with Zygmunt’s parents: Franciszka and Józef. And this very house was surrounded by German and Ukrainian officers on 13 April 1943 as a result of a tip-off. – It was decided to burn down the house and its buildings. Zygmunt’s parents were inside. They were burnt alive. Józef was 59 years old, Franciszka was 3 years younger. Olga and Zygmunt and their children were in the forest at the time. When they saw a smoke billowing above their farm, they withdrew as quickly as possible. They stayed in the forest until the end of the occupation.
On 6 November 1986 the Yad Vashem Institute awarded the Kuriat family: Jozef, Franciszka, Zygmunt and Olga, the titles of Righteous Among the Nations.
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