The post below is signed by Emmanuel Cortey, Deputy Director of Yahad- In Unum, who is accompanying the research trip to Poland (Jun. 16th – Jul. 2nd).
Translation from French: Yelena Moskovich
Monday June 30th, 2014
We leave early today, the first witness is almost two hours away. The rainfall outside brings out the greenery of the landscape of the Subcarthian region.
At 10 o’clock, we finally arrive in front of the house of Josef. He comes out to meet us and welcomes us warlmy. For his 80 years of age, he is a robust man. After a firm handshake, we comes in through the garden gate. As we walk in, an old horse backs up slowly, shaking his head in disatisfaction.
Joseph tells us about the family of his Jewish neighbor during the war in Grochowce. His name was Hanyna. He had three daughters and one son : Eta, Gienia, Rozia and Atek. “With them, we were even closer than a real family,” he says. One day, the Germans came and arrested them. Curious about their fate, Josef followed them with some older classmates, following the wagon in which they were being transported. They followed the truck for a long time as it entered deep into the neighboring forest. It is here that they witnesses the shooting. Thousands of others were killed in this same spot. The scene plays out itself in loop in Josef’s mind as he goes over the smallest detail.
After the interview, Josef leads us right up to exactly where the shooting took place. We drive some meters further into the dense forest, then we have to get out and continue on foot.We follow him slowly. Suddenly, we see the headstone which serves as a memorial for the Jews of Grochowce who were shot. Josef approaches the stone alone. After a pause, his finger stretches outward and points to the headstone, beneath which lies the scene he will never forget.
Silence. A rustling. The rain begins to fall. The tapping of raindrops on the huge beech trees around us adds to the feeling of suspended time. Josef stands still, cap tucked upon his head. He picks up a few pebbles and places them, one by one, upon those which are already placed at the top of the headstone: Eta … Gienia … Rozia Atek … …