In the forest close to the location of the former farmhouse marked on the map, the Dziuba family, including Stanisława "Stasia" Dziuba, her brother and their mother, Józefa Dziuba, provided food and shelter to three Jews during the Holocaust. © Google Maps. View an old map from the 1930s—all rights reserved—at Archiwum.allegro.pl (Look for the location of the farmhouse close to "P. Bodzentyn" at the lower-left corner to find the place of the isolated farmhouse in the forest (the quick link will open in a new window).
Stanisława "Stasia" Dziuba.
This recent photo of Stasia is a reproduction from a YouTube video
The Dziuba family, including Stanisława "Stasia" Dziuba, her brother and their mother, Józefa Dziuba, provided food and shelter to three Jews hiding in the forest close to their farmhouse in Podgórze, Bodzentyn.
The escape from the slave labour camp
Avram Cislowski, and the brothers Alter and Morris (Moniek) Grosman. The photo of Avram was taken in the mid-1930s, and the photos of Alter and Morris were taken in 1947.
Avram Cislowski, Dawid Fish (Fisz Dawid) and the brothers Alter, and Morris (Moniek) Grosman came from Bodzentyn. After the liquidations of the open ghetto of the town in late September or early October 1942* and of the Wierzbnik ghetto in October 1942, they met again at the slave labour camps in Starachowice-Wierzbnik.
Together, Avram, Dawid, Alter and Morris started to work out an escape plan. In the bitter cold of January 1943, they passed the camp's fences and guards and went through the forest to Bodzentyn. There they received some help from one of the locals Morris knew.
For months the four friends lived on the brink of starvation but managed to survive. They searched for food at night and built two bunkers (like holes in the ground) in the nearby forest to stay and rest in the daytime.
Seemingly the Germans had been notified about the four Jews' whereabouts, as one day, they spotted Dawid, who had left the group to pick mushrooms and shot him. Badly wounded, Dawid made it to one of the bunkers, where he tried to hide. The Germans that followed the blood tracks approached the bunker and threw in a grenade.
Deeper into the forest
During the attack, Avram Cislowski, Alter and Morris (Moniek) Grosman managed to hide in another bunker and survived. Afterwards, they felt they had to go deeper into the forest to stay safe. They built two bunkers at a new location and made sure not to leave any tracks of any kind that would reveal their hideout. Morris credits Avram for navigating the group to places where he knew they could find food: "[Avram] was born in these villages [Krajno]. He knew every farmer by name [...] If it wouldn't have been for him, I don't think [that] we could have survived."
For one night in the winter of 1943, the group were let to stay in the barn of a Polish family. Then later, near the end of the year, Avram, Alter and Morris stumbled on the farmhouse of the Dziuba family, where they received potatoes and borscht soup. They did not reveal their hideout to the people, but soon, the two young family members found the bunker.
In the following winter, Avram, Alter and Morris decided to return to the farmhouse, and for 77 days, from the beginning of January 1944, the Dziuba family offered shelter in the barn. Then, the three friends left and went back into the deep forest.
On a sad occasion in 1944, when Avram, Alter and Morris had left the bunker, they ran into German soldiers. The small group split, fleeing in different directions. Morris and Alter reunited at the place where they prepared meals, but Avram never returned. Finding him lying dead in the forest, the two Grosman brothers buried their friend.*
*For further information, read the comments below "Useful information".
Living in a farmhouse in Podgorze, Bodzentyn, the Dziuba family provided food and shelter to Avram Cislowski, Alter and Morris (Moniek) Grosman in an isolated area.
Józefa and Stanisława Dziuba recall the events
Józefa Dziuba and her daughter Stanisława "Stasia" Dziuba. The two photos were sent to the Grosman family after the end of the war.
"It was like that", Józefa Dziuba says. "They escaped from Starachowice, but they were wandering about here and there, here and there, and they saw that here there is only one building standing. You know — he said—it would be good for us to hide here since it is an isolated house and not a village. Here there is no one to betray us. Let’s stay here!"
"Don’t be afraid, guys! I will not turn you in. You have to live, and I have to live. I don't have much of a field, but there are potatoes that you can have or some bread so I can feed you."
"And so we lived. 'How long, Stasia? Two and a half years?' 'Yes' [Stasia confirms]. That's how we lived for two and a half years. We fed on this tiny piece of land the best we could."
Once Józefa Dziuba went to the bunker with the food for them. "They were in such great fear because they did not know who was coming. I had to call out loud: Moniek! Moniek! Come! Don’t be scared! It is me, Dziubina."
The family provided food and prepared a place for the refugees in the winter. This way they survived the hardships in the forest until the end of the war.
Listen to the audio recording of Józefa Dziuba's recollection of the events in Polish:
The audio file is the source of the above-quoted text: In transcript to Polish by Krystyna Rachan and Ewa Better, and in translation to English by the above mentioned with the Editor.
- Avram's father, David (Dawid) Cislowski, moved from Krajno to Bodzentyn; thus, Avram could well have been born in the small satellite village. See further references in the comparative study | Read the testimony of Al Cislowski
- In "Wyjście z Bodzentyna" (1960), Avram Cislowski's name is written as Abraham Scislowski.
- Morris Grosman refers to the man who initially helped him and the others survive on their return to Bodzentyn as " the man that owned the mill." In one of the letters he wrote to Stanisława Dziuba after the war, he asked how Maciejewski was doing. It is a well-known fact to locals in Bodzentyn that Maciejewski helped the partisans and that the Germans, in revenge, burnt down his mill, and it was not rebuilt again.
- At one point, the Grosman brothers and Avram Cislowski were led by other escapees to a place where eleven bodies—six Jewish men and five women—had been discovered in the Podgórze region or nearby. They decided to bury the victims at the location of their original bunkers. It is difficult to establish the exact time when this event occurred; however, in Morris' account, it was after the horrific event when Dawid Fish (also mentioned in sources as Fisz David) was killed and before the winter of 1943.
- After the war ended, Alter and Morris Grosman remained in and near Bodzentyn for a short period. They met a few other Jews originally from Bodzentyn, who had survived. Two of them were brothers that Poles in another village had hidden. They were tailors, and together with the Grosman brothers, they started a small business. However, being afraid of antisemitic groups of partisans and having heard what had happened to other Jews on their return, the small group of Jews decided to leave.
- In the article "Wyjście z Bodzentyna" (1960), Boleslaw Wzorek testifies that the Grossman brothers visited him before they left Bodzentyn in 1945. They told him about their promise to each other that the ones who survived would give the ones killed a proper burial. Thus, they located where they had buried Avram Cislowski in the winter of 1944, and brought the body to the Jewish cemetery and buried their friend there. Source: Mularczyk A., Rywanowicz R, Kąkolewsk K. (1960). Wyjście z Bodzentyna [Coming out from Bodzentyn]. Nowa Kultura, Nr 19 (528), p 9.
- Note: On the local burial site in Bodzentyn, there is a family grave with the following inscription: Stanisława Dziuba, brat Aleksander z rodzicami. According to the parish recordings, Stanisława, Stasia, Dziuba was born on February 4, 1926, and died on April 14, 1997, at 71.
- Extra resource: According to a video, Stanisława Dziuba and Józefa Dziuba hid two Soviet prisoners of war who managed to escape from one of the hardest POW camps in the vicinity. View the video filmed interview in which these facts are mentioned (accessed 9 July 2021)
- The situation in Starachowice-Wierzbnik can be studied more in Remembering Survival: Inside a Nazi Slave-Labor Camp by Christopher R. Browning (2010). Pamięć przetrwania Nazistowski obóz pracy oczami więźniów (2012).The book draws on the testimony of survivors of the Holocaust-era Starachowice-Wierzbnik (close to Bodzentyn) slave-labour camps to examine the Jewish prisoners' fight for survival through a succession of brutal Nazi camp regimes. Read an introduction to the book | View a lecture by C. R. Browning on the slave-labour camp on YouTube | Find the book in English | Find the book in Polish
- Righteous among the Nations: Read about the rescue of Nachman (Józef) Rubinowicz in Bodzentyn by the Zygadlewicz family
Professor Christopher R. Browning comments on the complex issue of Jewish-Polish relations:
Fear of denunciation by hostile Poles was one of the great deterrents to escape. Indeed, among those who escaped, many experienced not only denunciation but robbery and even murder. Others, however, encountered Poles who not only did not denounce them but even provided short-term help [...] long-term hiding of Jews would expose them and their families. Even so, virtually every escapee who did survive received [...] crucial help from Poles, without when they would not have survived [...] Escaped Jews may have experienced much hostility and danger from Poles, but those who survived were also the recipients of many acts of courage and altruism.
Source: Browning, C. R. (2010). Remembering Survival: Inside a Nazi Slave-Labour Camp. New York: W.W. Norton & Co, p 255.
- Morris Grosman. Interview, parts 1 and 2. The video filmed interview belongs to the Holocaust Memorial Resource & Education Center of Florida, made available to the Editor by Shane Grosman, grandson of Morris Grosman. Quote by Morris Grosman from the interview, part 1 (time code 1.14.36–1.15.11). The interview was done in 2004.
- Mularczyk A., Rywanowicz R, Kąkolewsk K. (1960). Wyjście z Bodzentyna [Coming out from Bodzentyn]. Nowa Kultura, Nr 19 (528), p 3, 9.
- Wołczyk, A. (1987). Pozostał po nich tylko kirkut ... (6th edition), Bodzentyn.
- "Wyjście z Bodzentyna" 1960-03-04. Sygnatura: 33-T-275. Warszawa: Narodowe Archiwum Cyfrowe.
Date of the liquidation of the ghetto. The so-called Fahrplananordnung Nr 587 was sealed and dated in Krakow on September 15 1942. The timetable Nr. 587 stated that the train leaving from Suchedniów on September 21 1942, would arrive at Treblinka on September 22 and return empty some hours later. A photo reproduction was published in the first Polish version of Dawid Rubinowicz's Diary: Rubinowicz, D., Rutkowski A. & Jarochowska, M. (1960). Pamiętnik Dawida Rubinowicza. Warszawa: Książka i Wiedza, pp. 26—28. Another date—October 3, 1942—is mentioned as the exact date of the liquidation of the open Bodzentyn ghetto by the eyewitness in Kalib Szachter, G., Wachsberger, K., & Kalib S. (1991). The Last Selection: a Child's Journey Through the Holocaust. Massachusetts: University of Massachusetts Press, p. 145. A postcard dated September 30 1942, from Rózia in Bodzentyn to Józek Frydman in the Warsaw ghetto supports the latter date (source: Ring. II/275/3).
Editor's note: This page has been proofread and approved by Shane Grosman, grandson of Morris Grosman. August 2021. The text was briefly edited in September 2023.
In early 2022, Shane Grosman completed a book for his family and future generations about his grandfather and grandmother and their experiences before, during and after the Holocaust.