Kazimierz and Maria Bieganowski saved Erwin Krause
In 1921 in Dubienka village, near to the Bug River lived 1204 people of Jewish origin, which constituted 40.6% of the total local population.
In 1942, Germans have created a ghetto in which they placed about 3,000 people. On June 2nd, 2670 Jews were taken to the death camp in Sobibor. Nearly 250 people were executed in the Jewish cemetery. In the ghetto were left only a few artisans who were murdered later, during the liquidation of the Jewish district on October 19th, 1942. The Jewish community in Dubienka ceased to exist.1.
But thanks to families like Bieganowscy, some have managed to survive.
Kazimierz and Maria Bieganowscy lived in Dubienka with their daughters, Jadwiga and Lucyna, and the mother of Kazimierz, Marianna.
During the occupation, Erwin Krause, an eleven-year-old boy, was hiding in their barn. The boy came from an Jewish family, pre-war neighbors of Bieganowskich. From his big family only he managed to survive the war. Kazimierz and Maria, although that two Germans were staying in their home, hid Erwin in the attic of the barn. Maria and Marianna hid their food in a bucket and went out to the barn, without any suspicion.
The boy, when he was bored, made from straw various things, such as baskets. Erwin would probably stay at their farm until liberation, if not for an incident. Bieganowscy asked the boy many times not to pray aloud because someone could hear him. Several months before the liberation to the farm came children from the neighborhood. Having heard the prayer coming from the cowshed, they shouted loudly: „You have a Jew in a barn.” Bieganowscy were very scared and sent the boy for a while to the forest. Later, Erwin came across an empty can with a US print, and guessed it was the end of the war. He returned to Bieganowscy.
After a while he moved to Germany. He wanted to go to America, but he did not have any documents. He wrote to Kazimierz asking for help in their production. Kazimierz went to Chełmno, to the people of Jewish origin who survived. Thanks to their advices, he reached the synagogue in Hrubieszów, where he found Erwin’s files and on their base, produced the documents which he then sent by post. Thanks to him, the boy left for America, settled in New York, and founded a family. For many years he kept in contact with Bieganowscy.
As their daughter-in-law mentions, „He was very grateful to my husband’s family. He sent packages and if there were any medicines that we needed, so there was no medicine he would not send. If it was not through the United States, it was through Switzerland. For a number of years, he was just so grateful that he sent food packages and clothes, and kept correspondence, sent pictures of his family, because he married and had two children”2.
After the death of Bieganowski, their children were still keeping contact with Erwin. It was until 12.09.1985, when they received the return of the letter for unknown reasons. Krause probably left with his family to Israel. When Franciszek Bieganowski liquidated his parents farm, he found baskets and other things woven by Erwin in a hideout. The man gave it to the Agricultural Museum in Sitno.
- FLV. List od Lucyny Hackiewicz [córka], Chełm, 24.08.2015 r.
- FLV, Nagranie audio, sygn. 811 1320 D, relacja Barbary Bieganowskiej [synowa] z 17.03.2014 r.
- FLV, Nagranie audio, sygn. 811 3286, relacja Franciszka Bieganowskiego [syn] z 12.06.2015 r.
- Wirtualny Sztetl – portal Muzeum Historii Żydów Polskich POLIN, [strona internetowa:] http://www.sztetl.org.pl/pl/article/dubienka/5,historia/, dostęp: 26.04.2017 r.
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