Ghetto in Prużanie in Polesie region was founded by the Nazis in August 1941. Its boundaries were marked by the streets: Kobryńska, Swabody, Lenina, Kirowa, Ostrowskiego and Tormasowa. Authorities had the intention of making Prużany into a city designed only for Jews.

After the resettlements about 18 thousand people lived there. Conditions in the ghetto worsened with time. Overpopulated rooms and small food rations eventually led to the increase in the number of diseased. Only at the turn of 1941/1942, ghetto in Prużanie consumed 6 million Jewish lives.

In late February 1942, Olga Goldfajn, a Jewish doctor from the ghetto in Prużanie, received an invitation to the convent. The pupil of the sisters, Renia Wiewiórkowska, under the pretense of visiting a Jewish dentist, entered the ghetto where she found Dr. Goldfajn. She asked her for a visit to sick Nun Genowefa Czubak. The doctor worked in the canteen, where she monitored the quality of the food served to the Gestapo and the gendarmes. Because of this, she was able to leave the premises of the ghetto. „Impatiently, I awaited the evening and the arrival of the doctor, so that she could help me get out of bed as soon as possible. There she was, finally. She made a good impression on me and the present sisters”. Prescribed medicine helped, and nun Genowefa started feeling better. She got sick again in March, when the Germans moved the nuns to a temporary apartment. Olga Goldfajn visited the sister again, and spoke with her for a long time. She wanted to say goodbye – she was afraid of the liquidation of the ghetto and deportation to the camps, which would have meant her death: „She added, that she wanted to survive and to see the defeated of the Germans. „I also await that moment”, I said to her. Then she asked me if I could provide her with shelter”.

The situation in the ghetto became more and more difficult. On the third of November, 1942, s. Nun Genowefa Czubak received tragic message about the death of Dr. Goldfajn. She was supposed to poison herself, along with the other intellectuals. As fate would have it, the injection was too weak. She managed to contact the sister Genowefa and met with her near the fence: „I waited for a while. She came after some time. She looked terrible. Changed beyond recognition. She looked more dead than alive.”

The women agreed, that under the cover of night, Dr. Goldfajn would come to the house of the nuns. And so it happened. When, after five weeks, the German authorities began to take interest in the absence of Dr. Goldfajn, she had to return to the ghetto on 10 December 1942. At the same time, the fact of hiding a Jewess was revealed. The information reached the General Mother, who in result degraded sister Genowefa from her position.

28 January 1943, the Gestapo surrounded the ghetto and ordered the governors to deliver four thousand wagons. The Jews were taken away within four days. Nun Genowefa was waiting in her cell, when Sister Marianna entered the room. „She sat down on a chair and asked me what should she do in case Dr. Goldfajn came. „Open the doors and lead her to my room”, I said to her. „But you won’t be able to hide her”, she said. „The sister superior won’t agree to it”. „In that case, I will be forced to leave and seek refuge somewhere else”, I answered”. Around 2 AM, the Jewish doctor appeared at the door. They let her inside. She ran away in Orańczyce, from the train going to Oświecim. She hid in the monastery, but she couldn’t stay there. Nun Genowefa decided that both of them will leave Prużana. Nuns prepared them for their voyage, and Goldfajn was told to wear nun’s clothing. Michalczyk came for them in his wagon. She only had cards from Arbeitsamt on them „s. The one for Goldfajn was issued under the name nun Helena Wysocka.

The women had moments of terror when passing gendarmes guarding the ghetto. „I can’t describe the fear I felt at that moment! If they demanded identification cards, we would have all died, dooming the nuns in the process”. Goldfajn and Czubak stayed at farms, living of the small amounts of moneys that people gave to them. They survived until July 1944.” After the liberation, Dr. Goldfajn went to France. Nun Genowefa moved to Łódź. She didn’t receive permission to return to the order.

For great courage and heroism during the rescue of Dr. Olga Goldfajn, Genowefa Czubak was awarded by the Yad Vashem Institute with the title of Righteous Among the Nations of the World.


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