The reporter of “Supervisor” recalls the story of Lena Küchler, a graduate of the Jagiellonian University, who survived the Holocaust and decided to take care of children who, after being liberated from the camps, ended up in orphanages in Rabka and Zakopane. In total, nearly 200 children went to facilities in Podhale.
Jewish orphanages in Podhale became the target of attacks
The place, however, was not safe. – Fascists from the underground threatened the employed local women that they would beat them up if they did not quit their jobs. The shopkeepers in Rabka forbade us to sell food, so a food truck would come from Krakow every few days – says Gusta Tajber, a nurse from an orphanage in Rabka, in the report.
The material recalls the figure of Józef Kuraś, alias “Ogień”, a soldier of the Home Army and Peasants’ Battalions, accused of crimes against civilians. – When it comes to the climate of Polish-Jewish relations in Kraków and Małopolska after the war, it was not a safe area for Jews. 112 victims between January 1945 and the end of 1947. The dangerous area was Miechowskie, Dąbrowa Tarnowska, the area of Podhale, partly the area of Olkusz. In Podhale alone, at least 28 people died, mainly at the hands of “Ognia” partisans – says Dr. hab. Julian Kwiek from AGH in Krakow.
On August 11, 1945, a pogrom took place in Krakow, and a day later someone attacked the orphanage in Rabka. A grenade was thrown into the Niemen villa, where 96 children were staying. – The children’s beds were close to the windows. I was afraid that the glass from the windows broken in the shooting would injure them, so we dragged sleeping, half-conscious children out of their beds to lie down on the ground in the corridor – says Gusta Tajber.
– You cannot speak of any Jewish pogrom here – says Artur Kołodziej from the Podhale Historical Reconstruction Group of the Blyskawica Partisan Group. Józef Kuraś “Ognia”. – The orphanage for Jewish children who survived the Holocaust was located in this villa, the Niemen villa. On the other hand, the building of the Stasin villa was then occupied by the Public Security Office. A little further, the Juras villa was occupied by the local structures of the Citizens’ Militia. The reports from 1945, the report of the starost of Nowy Targ, the report of the KBW commander and the militia do not show that there were any victims, he argues.
Kołodziej claims that the building next door was fired upon, not the orphanage.
“At first they were fired up close, then from the surrounding hills”
The material cites a letter from a 13-year-old from an orphanage. “Something new happened. On the night of Sunday to Monday, around one hour, a light grenade was thrown at the Niemen villa. There were no casualties. We were fired on until three o’clock. At first we were shot at close range, and then from the surrounding hills. , I heard some footsteps in the field and a few close shots. Apparently, even the attackers were knocking on the door. Similar episodes make my stay in Rabka very unpleasant. I will not stay here any longer than planned. I kiss you strongly and I greet you “- we read.
A week later there was another attack, and then every Sunday for three consecutive weeks. “The attacks were carried out by junior high school students inspired by priest Józef Hojoł, who belonged to the underground structures of the Home Army. The third attack was secured by soldiers who would be in the ranks of the ‘Ognia’ unit in a few months’ time” – reports “Superwizjer”.
Artur Kołodziej claims something else. According to him, there were no three attacks. The armed action took place only once, on August 12, 1945. It could be done once and by surprise, because it was supposed to be a retaliation for the lieutenant’s death, and disappear, which they did. The fire exchange could not last more than 20 minutes, he says.
In 1946, Lena Küchler illegally transported children from Poland to France. From there they ended up in Israel.